World silver medallist Maria BERNABEU (ESP) denied Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Sally CONWAY (GBR) a perfect return to IJF duty as the Spanish star took the -70kg final and her country’s second gold medal in Cancun. CONWAY, 30, who took silver on her post-Olympic return to competition at the Bucharest European Open a fortnight ago, led their head-to-head series 4-2 coming into Mexico with all four of the Briton’s wins coming in their last four meetings. Former Budapest Grand Prix winner BERNABEU, who finished fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympics, led with a waza-ari from an ashi-waza attack but the final was decided when CONWAY received her third penalty for going out of the area. Both judoka will be in the medal hunt come Budapest in August with Scotland’s CONWAY targeting her first world medal.
In the first semi-final Venezuela’s first world number one Elvismar RODRIGUEZ (IJF) lost out to CONWAY who threw her young opponent after 58 seconds of golden score with a sumi-gaeshi for a match-winning waza-ari score.
In the second semi-final BERNABEU bested Antalya Grand Prix bronze medallist Gemma HOWELL (GBR) by a waza-ari score as the Spanish team continued to thrive in Mexico.
The first bronze medal was claimed by HOWELL who held down Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Barbara TIMO (BRA) for 20 seconds to win by by ippon. Former junior standout and London 2012 Olympian HOWELL is now enjoying the best run of her career as she has been able to stay injury free and has now won three Grand Prix medals this year.
The second bronze medal was captured by RODRIGUEZ as former Minsk European Open winner Roxane TAEYMANS (BEL) received her third and final penalty for going out of the area after 90 seconds of golden score. RODRIGUEZ looked more open and adventurous than her earlier contests and that told as TAEYMANS struggled to contain the world leader who picked up valuable World Ranking List points as she all but guaranteed herself the top billing for August’s World Championships.
BERNABEU, Maria (ESP) vs CONWAY, Sally (GBR)
Bronze Medal Fights
HOWELL, Gemma (GBR) vs TIMO, Barbara (BRA)
TAEYMANS, Roxane (BEL) vs RODRIGUEZ, Elvismar (IJF)
1. BERNABEU, Maria (ESP)
2. CONWAY, Sally (GBR)
3. HOWELL, Gemma (GBR)
3. RODRIGUEZ, Elvismar (IJF)
5. TIMO, Barbara (BRA)
5. TAEYMANS, Roxane (BEL)
7. RODRIGUEZ, Sara (ESP)
7. OLIVEIRA, Amanda (BRA)