Third gold Loriana Kuka icing on the cake for Kosovo
Like her three compatriots, finalists on the first day at the Grand Prix in Tashkent (2 gold, 1 silver), Loriana Kuka (KOS) qualified with a lot of control for the final of U78kg despite not being one of the seeded athletes when the competition started.
In the final, she found on her way the Austrian Bernadette Graf, who from the first matches was very fit.
Kuka immediately seemed to take the mental ascendent over the Austrian and launched a couple of strong left-handed hip attacks that put Graf in danger but for no score.
As a consequence, the latter was penalized with a first shido. After a strong battle for gripping and with the end of the final approaching, both athletes were penalized for passivity. For four minutes, Kuka had tried to apply her hip technique and apparently, Graf was waiting for her in that direction. But this is the moment the Kosovar decided to change direction, with a superb ko-soto-gari for a clear ippon.
This is the second Grand Prix Gold Medal for Kuka and third gold medal for Kosovo on the occasion of this Grand Prix. Definitely a superb harvest for Kosovo.
The first bronze medal contest of the category opposed the experienced Anastasiya Dmitrieva (RUS), owner of already 9 Grand Prix medals, and Beata Pacut (POL), bronze medallist two weeks ago at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. After 48 seconds, both athletes were penalized with a first shido for passivity.
Just before the last two minutes, Pacut executed a uchi-mata that was very close to scoring, but as Dmitrieva didn't land on the back or the side, no score was given. In the meanwhile, Dmitrieva was penalized a second time as the end of regular time was approaching.
After 2 minutes and 12 seconds of golden score Pacut received her second shido, putting the two women one shido away from disqualification and a little moment later the Russian was actually penalized, giving the victory to the Polish who won her third medal on a Grand Prix.
The winner of the Buenos Aires Panamerican Open 2018, Karen Leon (VEN) faced the 2015 World bronze medallist, Luise Malzahn (GER). After less than 10 seconds, the German was the first in action, with a massive hip technique, but for no score. For sure Leon was trying, but Malzahn seemed stronger on her legs and capable of controlling her opponent. This is what happened after Leon launched an attack that was countered for a waza-ari. Malzahn could then control the rest of the bout to win her nineteenth Grand Prix medal, a new record!