Paltchik claimed victory in the men’s -100kg category whilst Sasson made it an Israeli double on the final evening of competition by taking out the men’s +100kg category.
Those performances crowned a fascinating three days of judo action which saw 545 competitors – 313 male and 232 women – from 83 different countries compete at the Shlomo Arena in Tel Aviv.
Paltchik, ranked ninth in the world in the -100 kg category, required all his tactical awareness to hold off the challenge of Leonardo Goncalves of Brazil in their final. The Israeli athlete suffered an early fright when Goncalves appeared to have launched a successful harai-goshi, but Paltchik somehow remained free. The home judoka earned his breakthrough shortly before the end when he scored a waza-ari to beat his more physically powerful opponent.
Germany’s double world medallist Karl-Richard Frey beat Poland’s Kasper Szczurowski to the first bronze, and the second went to Brazil’s Rafael Buzacarini, who beat Daniel Mukete of Belarus.
The stage was then set for Sasson, the Rio 2016 bronze medallist, in his +100kg final against South Korea’s Sungmin Kim. This contest followed a similar pattern as Sasson gained the initiative with a waza-ari, defending his advantage skilfully to the end. Ukraine’s Yakiv Khammo and Japan’s Yusuke Kumashiro earned bronze medals with respective wins over Stephan Heygi of Austria and Bekmurod Oltiboev of Uzbekistan.
In the men’s-90kg class, South Korea’s former world champion and last year’s Paris Grand Slam winner Gwak Donghan claimed gold over Mikail Özerler of Turkey. It came thanks to an waza-ari during golden time, and Donghan’s gold was to prove decisive in the final medal count. Piotr Kuzera of Poland and Brazil’s Rafael Macedo took the bronze medals with respective wins over Uzbekistan’s Davlat Bobonov and Marcus Nyman of Sweden.
Britain earned its second gold of the Grand Prix in the women’s events as Natalie Powell defeated Austria’s three-times European medallist Bernadette Graf in the -78kg final. Britain’s 2017 world bronze medallist took less than two minutes to secure the title with a waza-ari that was followed by a flawless ippon that earned her a third Grand Prix gold of her career. Bronze medals went to Portugal’s Patricia Sampaio, who beat Luise Malzahn of Germany, and South Korea’s Yoon Hyunji, who defeated Patricija Brolih of Slovenia.
Gold in the top women’s weight, the -78kg class, went to France’s 2018 European champion Romane Dickoe. She made a winning return to action after a long absence with injury by defeating Tessie Savelkouls of The Netherlands in the final through ippon. Portugal’s Rochele Nunes won the first bronze, beating Kim Hayun of South Korea, and the second went to Turkey’s Kayra Sayit, who defeated Larisa Cerić of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The first day of action in Tel Aviv saw Japan and South Korea claim two gold medals each
South Korea’s two victories came courtesy of Kim Won-Jin and An Baul.
Kim overcame Turkey’s Mihrac Akkus in the men’s -60kg final, while An beat Kazakhstan’s Yerlan Serikzhanov to top honours in the men’s -66kg category.
Rounding off the men’s -60kg podium were Moldova’s Nicolae Foca and Japan’s Dai Aoki, with Brazil’s Daniel Cargnin and home judoka Tal Flicker having to settle for bronze in the -66kg class.
Japan’s golds came in the women’s classes thanks to sterling performances by Natsumi Tsunoda and Chishima Maeda. Tsunoda beat France’s Shirine Boukli in the women’s -48 kilograms final, while Maeda defeated South Korea’s Jeong Bo-kyeong in the women’s -52kg final. France’s Mélanie Clément and Turkey’s Tugce Beder were the -48kg bronze medallists, with -52kg bronze medals went to South Korea’s Park Da-sol and Belgium’s Charline Van Snick.
Slovenia’s Kaja Kajzer took the opening day’s other gold medal, having defeated France’s Hélène Receveaux in the women’s -57kg final. The bronze medals in this class went to Kosovo’s Nora Gjakova and Hungary’s Hedvig Karakas.
The second day of the Grand Prix Italy’s Olympic champion Fabio Basile claim top spot on the podium in the men’s -73kg class. Having won gold in the men’s -66 kilogram at Rio 2016, the Italian demonstrated the step up in class has not been an issue as he defeated Ferdinand Karapetian of Armenia in the final, with Martin Hojak of Slovenia and Nils Stump of Switzerland finishing with bronze medals.
Aslan Lappinagov of Russia was the winner in the men’s -81kg, overcoming Alexios Ntanatsidis of Greece in the final, with bronze medals going to Eduardo Yudy Santos of Brazil and Luka Maisuradze of Georgia.
In the women’s classes, Sally Conway won the first of two golds for Great Britain over the weekend’s competition as he topped the -70kg podium.
Conway, the Olympic and world bronze medallist, beat Kim Seong-yeon of South Korea in the final, with Kelita Zupancic of Canada and Ai Tsunoda Roustant of Spain coming away with bronze medals.
Katharina Haecker of Australia won the -63kg, beating Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard of Canada who took the silver. Completing the podium for bronze medals was Renata Zachová of the Czech Republic and Martyna Trajdos of Germany.
South Korea finished on top of the medal table at the close of the Tel Aviv Grand Prix with their double gold medal success on the opening day just edging Japan, the host national Israel and Great Britain. The Korean’s haul of three golds, three silvers and two bronzes saw them edge Japan (two golds and two bronzes) into second. Israel’s two golds and one bronze was enough to seal third with Great Britain’s two golds ensured they finished fourth.