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2019 Paris GS Round Up and bits from Viszer's Q and A

The Paris Grand Slam was held last weekend, and as the first Grand Slam event of the year, it didn't disappoint (at least for the people who won medals), and as an added bonus, IJF President Marius Vizer hosted a twitter Q and A.

Because we're talking about Paris, and France, we need to start with the French Team - or should I say the French Women. According to an article on the IJF site, this is the First time since 1971 that a French male Judoka hasn't gotten a podium spot at the Paris GS. But you know who did get a Podium spot - Clarisse Abegnounou. The hometown star won her fifth Paris GS title in spectacularly dramatic fashion - by beating Tina Trestenjak of Slovenia 3 minutes deep into Golden Score, and throwing out her shoulder in the process (you can watch her moment of glory in the video below)

I also want to give a shout out to both Devin Waldenburg (-60) and Ebony Drysdale Daley (-70) who became the first Jamaicans to compete in an IJF World Tour event.

The Men&…
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Tel-Aviv GP 2019 - Day 3 and Wrap-up

Day 3, the final day of the Tel-Aviv GP saw the home team end it on a high note. Rio Bronze Medalist Ori Sasson took gold in the -100 category, obviously winning the last medal in the last match on home soil has it's own emotional advantages, but he managed to win it in the weirdest of ways - With two of his opponents being disqualified sandwiching two resounding ippon throws. In his first match, which went a full 3 minutes into Golden Score, he outlasted Russia's Shakhbazov on penalties. In his next match, Ukraine's Kolesnyk only lasted 23 seconds, before Sasson threw him with a resounding Morote Seoinage (as a big guy myself, there's no greater satisfaction than the thud of your opponent on the mat that indicates a sure ippon). In the semi-final, the Azeri - Kokauri, managed to last a full two-minutes before being thrown by Sasson with Kouchi Gari for Ippon. Leaving only the other Ukrainian - Yakiv Khammo - between Ori and the final Gold for Israel. It would take nea…

Tel-Aviv GP 2019 - Day 2 (We'll take one of each)

There was no less excitement on Day 2 of the Tel-Aviv GP. After a disappointing hardware-less day for the Israeli men's team on Thursday, they wanted so desperately to get off of the schneid, and the hometown fans would not be disappointed.

Israel took home 3 medals on Friday - Bronze in the men's -73, Silver in the Women's -63, and Gold in the Men's -81.

In the -73 category, Tohar Butbul took a tour of North America - beating the Candian Bouchard and the American Turner by Ippon - Bouchard with Osoto Gari 3 minutes in, and Turner on a Wazari from a Seoinage 23 seconds into Golden Score. He was cruising in the quarter finals, up by a Wazari with the seconds ticking away - but was thrown by Tajikistan's Khojazoda literally as time ran out - forcing him into the repechage. He ultimately won the Bronze by beating Nils Stump of Switzerland

In the -63 category, Inbal Shemesh, despite being the World #37, fought some good battles and came away with the Silver, ultimately…

Tel-Aviv GP 2019 - Day 1

Anyone who reads my blog would know how excited I am that the first ever IJF World Tour event is being held in Israel this week - The Tel-Aviv GP. On the one hand, looking at the roster, it seems that much of the top talent (the Japanese team, for example) aren't there - most likely due to the much more established and prominent Paris GS being just a couple of weeks away.
The big news on day one isn't so much who made the podium, but who didn't. Out of 8 Israeli men competing, not a single one made the podium. The two biggest surprises were Baruch Shmailov and Tal Flicker - currently the world #4 and #5 in the -66 category didn't even make it into the repechage. Shmailov won his first match against Medves of Italy, but then lost the pool semi-final to Iadov of the Ukraine. It was a good match, and Shmailov nearly had Iadov with Harai-Tsurikomi-Ashi, but Iadov countered with Ko-Soto-Gake for Ippon.
Flicker didn't even win his first match, losing after 3 minutes of G…

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

Well folks, this has been a crazy year in Judo. A year that saw siblings win gold medals at a world tour event. A year that saw returning favorites and rising upstarts and dozens of awesome ippons.

 It was a year of peace and friendship in Judo - If I told you 12 months ago that we'd see the Israeli flag hoisted in Abu Dhabi while their national anthem played in the backgroumd, or that a unified Korean team would compete at the World Championships in Baku - you would've thought highly unlikely that either one of those would come true, yet alone both.

It was also a great Judo year for me personally. After a few years of spotty practice due to various life events, I've finally got back to practicing regularly. I've also got back to blogging regularly (well, semi-regularly). I am always amazed that people are reading my blog, and I just want you to know that I appreciate it.

Happy Holidays and Best wishes for a great 2019.

For your viewing pleasure - below is a video the …

מרגש - Emotional doesn't really describe it.

The Hebrew word in the title of this blog post is pronounced - Me-Rah-Gesh (with a hard G). It's loosely translated as 'emotional' - but in this case, I don't know if that does it enough justice. 
If you read my blog you know that I am big fan of Israeli Judo, and no where near a fan of the political crap that Israeli Judoka need to endure while they compete around the world. Beyond the a handshake refusal in Rio, or explaining to people while Israel competes as part of the European Judo Union, there was all this drama with the Judo World Tour events in both Abu Dhabi and Morocco over the last several years.
Thankfully Mariusz Viser, the Chairman of the IJF, took a stance, and enabled Israel to compete in the Abu Dhabi tournament - under it's own flag. Of course, several Israelis wound up on the podium, and Two, Sagi Muki and Peter Paltchik, won Gold. Some of the nuance missing from this, is that Mr. Viser invited the Israeli Minister of Sport and Culture - Miri R…

2018 WC Baku - notes on the first couple of days

Sorry to say that I've been busy and haven't been able to watch much of the action of the 2018 World Championships. But there have been interesting storylines:

- I don't know which is a bigger story - that Uta Abe joined her brother Hifume atop the podium today, or that she unseated Ai Shishime to do it.

- Daria Bilodid of Ukraine continues to impress - not only winning gold but besting Pareto (ARG) and Tonaki in the process. Sky's the limit for this 17 year old

- No hardware for my friends from either team USA or Team Israel. World #1 at 66kg - Tal Flicker - sailed through the prelims, only to lose a hard semifinal match 1:35 into GS. Gefen Primo lost out in the Repechage and the other Israelis who've played so far - Shmailov, Temelkova, Minsker and  Rishony didn't even make it that far. Of the 5 Americans who played on the first two days - only Angelica Delgado won a single match. Hope there will be more love for the Red, White and Blue and the kachol v'l…