Rio 2016: Fairytale ending for Kosovo judoka

Heartache and Olympics dream's are made within minutes of each other on day two of Judo.

Rio 2016: Fairytale ending for Kosovo judoka
Majlinda Kelmendi the new star of judo | www.olympic.org

Kosovo have made their Olympic debut under their own flag at Rio- and they have their first gold medal, what a dream come true.

In the women’s 52kg final Kosovan Judoka Majlinda Kelmendi beat Odette Giuffrida of Italy with a single yuko.

Cinderella ending

Both hit the mat running in the final and came out like they both meant business, but it was Kelmendi who eventually came out on top. She controlled her nerves and stuck to a game plan which ultimately earned herself and her country their first ever Olympic gold medal.

The early yuko proved too much of a mountain for Giuffrida to get it back with time disappearing quickly. She worked hard right to the end, but it wasn’t to be on the biggest stage on earth. 

In the other final the men’s 66kg it was Italy’s Fabio Basile clinched the gold after beating South Korea’s An Ba-ul. Both Judoka’s wanted it as bad as one another, and using orthodox techniques gave the Italian the edge.

Confidence is not something Basile lacks and it proved to be crucial when the Ippon move came out of nowhere, throwing his opponent on his back less than a minute into the bout.

Basile is certainly a showman on the big stage.

Before all eyes turned to the gold medal matches it was the bronze medal bouts

Four years of training paid off | photo: www.torinosportiva.it
Four years of training paid off | photo: www.torinosportiva.it

The moment hard work is earned

The women’s first of two matches started with Japan’s Misato Nakamura taking on home favorite Erika Miranda.

These two women fought and fought to the bitter end, but it was Nakamura who took charge to hook the inside of her opponents leg and put her on her back, gaining the one point needed to make the difference to the third and fourth place.

The second of the medal matches was eventful to say the least, with a lot of ground work but it was Russia’s Natalia Kuziutina took the bronze with an Ippon. 

Mia Yingnan of China was the Russian’s opponent and with seconds to go in the bout, Kuziutina managed to get the hold down for the needed 20 seconds which turned into the 100 points to give her an Olympic glory of standing on the podium.

The men’s 66kg also had their chance at bronze, and the first match consisted of Rishod Sobirov of Uzbekistan and Adrian Gomboc of Slovenia.

It was the Uzbekistan athlete who grabbed the medal after he got Gomboc into the stranglehold, forcing him to tap out of the bout.

In the last bronze medal match, the three-time World champion Masashi Ebinuma of Japan walked away from the mat with his second consecutive bronze medal at Olympic level.

A quick change in direction helped Ebinuma to create a drop shoulder throw to take down Antoine Bouchard of Canada.

Bouchard tried as he might to get back in the contest like a true athlete, but it wasn’t to be after Ebinuma threw an Ippon and ended the bout.