August 29 - Japan's domination of the men's events at the judo World Championships was ended here today as France's Loic Pietri won the under 81 kilogram category while Yarden Gerbi made history by winning Israel's first ever gold medal in this event in the under 63kg section.
Pietri, a 23-year-old from Nice, beat Georgia's Avtandili Tchrikishvili in the final to add the senior crown to the world junior he had won at Paris in 2009.
It was a close affair, though, as Pietri was penalised with a shido for a false attack before Tchrikishvili came close to scoring from a uchi-mata.
But Pietri, whose father Marcel won a silver medal at the European Championships in 1986, held on for France's first gold medal.
Among those Pietri had beat on his way to the final was Brazil's world number one Victor Penalber in the third round.
"I really came here for gold, I knew I was a man for this type of Championships," said Pietri.
"I'm not always mentally prepared as I'd like but for this event I was totally focused.
"Today I felt more capable of relaxing and I had perfect preparation.
"I stayed focused today and I'm still realising that I am now senior world champion which is exactly what I wished for."
Another French judoka, Alain Schmitt, collected bronze along with Russia's Ivan Vorobev.
Japan, having won the three lighter categories, saw their hopes of maintaining that perfect record destroyed in the opening round when their best hope, World Judo Masters silver medallistKeita Nagashima, was beaten by Slovenia's Jesenko Cetic.
Gerbi produced a performance of such force that her opponent in the final, Clarisse Agbegnenou, was left prostrate on the mat with a dislocated shoulder after the Israeli produced her fifth consecutive ippon with only 43 seconds on the clock.
"I'm so happy that it really ended this way," said Gerbi, a 24-year-old from Netanya.
"I had a great competition.
"Nothing can be better than this.
"I cried a little for my parents; they also cried."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Gerbi to congratulate her, describing her medal as a "fantastic achievement" and praising her "swift, elegant" victory in the finals bout, an official statement from the Israeli Government said.
Gerbi is the fifth Israeli to win a medal in the World Championships, after Yael Arad, Oren Smadja, Arik Zeevi and Alice Schlesinger - but the first to win gold.
It means a total of 34 countries have won gold medals at these Championships since they were first held in 1956.
European champion Agbegnenou admitted that she was outclassed.
"I was surprised by the first attack and just don't know what happened," she said.
In the semi-final Agebgnenou had beaten teammate Gevrise Emane, who was defending the title she won in Paris two years ago.
In the end, she had the consolation of winning a bronze medal, along with the Netherlands Anicka Van Emden.
It was the second consecutive bronze medal that Van Emden had won in this event.
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Photos©IJF Media by T. Zahonyi and G. Sabau
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