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 Golden Score to Russia's Ruslan Khametov - who threw him with a slow-rolling, deep crouching hane-goshi.
On the Women's side, they were a lot more succesful - of the 10 women that competed, they brought home a medal in each of today's womnen's weight classes - 2 gold - Nelson-Levy in -57 and Rishony in -48, and one Silver - Gili Cohen in 52. Gefen Primo finished 5th in 52, and Noa Minsker finished 7th in 48, so half of all of the Israeli women competing today, finished with at least a shot at the medal.
In news about other countries - one of the few stars here - is Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo. Kelmendi missed most of the 2018 season with a back injury, and then bowed out early in her return to the mat in Abu Dhabi because of an injury as well. She jumped into 2019 with a resounding win over the home favorite Gili Cohen. Hopefully this will be a successful year for the Kosovan on her way to defend her title in Tokyo in 2020.