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Ukrainian 20-Year-Old Judoka Yulia Kurchenko Secures Gold at Grand Slam in Georgia

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Photo: Ukrainian 20-Year-Old Judoka Yulia Kurchenko Secures Gold at Grand Slam in Georgia. Source: ijf.org
Photo: Ukrainian 20-Year-Old Judoka Yulia Kurchenko Secures Gold at Grand Slam in Georgia. Source: ijf.org

The 20-year-old Ukrainian judoka won the 78kg weight category at the Grand Slam in Tbilisi. In the final match, she defeated four-time world champion Guusje Steenhuis from the Netherlands. Two Ukrainian women dominated the U78kg category at the Grand Slam in Georgia. Yulia Kurchenko reached the final, and Yelyzaveta Lytvynenko reached the semi-finals but had to fight for bronze, according to the International Judo Federation.

The final between Yulia Kurchenko and Dutchwoman Gusje Steenheijs was a contest of strength. Steenheijs immediately started working with her makikomi, but the Ukrainian was well ready.

After several attempts by the Dutchwoman, Kurchenko repelled one such attack, and this brought her an ippon, a gold medal and the much-needed 1000 points in the world ranking.

In the semi-finals, she had a meeting with the well-prepared Dutchman Gusje Steenheijs, but it was too far and Steenheijs won the match and a place in the final, forcing Litvinenko to go for a bronze medal she had not expected.

Ma and Lytvynenko faced each other in the first bronze medal match in this way. The odds were absolutely even, and Litvinenko needed to work hard to achieve a gold result, finally triggering her sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi, scoring a waza-ari to grab a spot on the podium.

The second bronze medal would go to either Cheumeo or Boehm. Both came in needing a win to bolster their case in their respective federations, as they have huge domestic competition hanging over their heads. Only one of them could take a medal, and in the end it was Alina Boehm who threw a golden score and climbed to the podium.

The top seed Anna-Maria Wagner was actually unable to compete due to illness, and her compatriot Alina Böhm took full advantage of this during the qualifying events, going straight through to the semi-final stage. 

To get there, she had to deal with China's 2022 World silver medallist Zhenzhao Ma. There, however, she came up short, losing to the chasing Ukrainian Yulia Kurchenko, who was looking to beat her teammate Litvinenko.

Judo stars from all over the world arrived in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi for the long-awaited Grand Slam tournament. 

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