February 23 - After two goldless days at the at the Düsseldorf Grand Prix on the International Judo Federation (IJF) World Tour, Germany's wait finally came to end on the third and final day of competition as Luise Malzahn sent the home crowd into raptures with victory in the women's under 78 kilogram event.
The Miami Grand Prix silver medallist scored just a solitary yuko against Slovakia's world number six Anamari Velensek but it was enough to secure the hosts first gold of the tournament and get the 3,000 strong crowd inside the Mitsubishi Electric Halle on their feet.
Defeated semi-finalist Audrey Tcheumeo of France recovered well in the first of the bronze medal matches to throw China's Zhehui Zhang for ippon with just 11 seconds remaining of the fight, with Great Britain's Rome European Open silver medallist Natalie Powell denying a French double with victory over youngster Madeline Malonga.
Germany came agonisingly close to a second gold in quick succession after national champion Franziska Konitz made it to the final of the over 78kg contest.
It was not to be for the German heavyweight however as Japan's three-time world bronze medallist Megumi Tachimoto scored a yuko with a harai-makikomi after two minutes and trapped her opponent to the tatami with a kuzure-kesa-gatame for ippon and the win.
There was more German success in the first of the bronze medal matches as Jasmin Kuelbs disposed of Slovakia's Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Lucija Polavder by ippon from a hane-goshi at the halfway point.
The German medal haul was thwarted in the second bronze medal match as China's World Judo Masters winner Yu Song dominated Carolin Weiss to put an end to the German party and claim the final spot on the podium.
World bronze medallist Ilias Iliadis was in devastating form in the men's under 90kg category as the Greek judoka powered through every challenge put in front of him, including Dutch Abu Dhabi Grand Prix silver medallist Noel Van T End in the final.
The first bronze medal match brought more success for the dominant Japanese contingent with Tokyo bronze medallist Daiki Nishiyama over-powering Switzerland's Cirill Grossklaus for the win.
The second bronze medal was picked up in just a matter of seconds by Zviad Gogotchuri as the Georgian athlete took just 35 seconds to dismiss Frenchman Romain Buffet with a ura-nage for ippon.
Former world champion Luciano Correa of Brazil was handed the title in the men's under 100kg category after his opponent, Kazakhstan's Maxim Rakov, was forced to pull out due to a rib injury he picked up in his semi-final victory over Germany's Karl-Richard Frey.
Frey suffered the same fate in his bronze medal match with Rafael Buzacarini as the ever-improving judoka added a second medal for Brazil in this weight category.
The other bronze medal was won by Jeju Grand Prix winner Tuvshinbayar Naidan who overwhelmed Russia's Sergei Samoilovich in the last 15 seconds with a kami-shiho-gatame sealing a win by wazari-awasette-ippon after the veteran Mongolian opened the scoring with a waza-ari.
The final contest of the three-day Grand Prix saw former world champion Kamikawa Daiki add a sixth gold medal for Japan as the judo crazy nation dominated yet another major tournament.
In an otherwise scoreless final, Daiki scored just two shido penalties to his opponent, Tunisia's 2013 world bronze medallist Faicel Jaballah's, four, giving the Japanese judoka victory in the heaviest of judo weight categories, the over 100kg event.
The first of the final pair of bronze medals was won by Brazil's world silver medallist Rafael Silva after he beat Japan's Hisayoshi Harasawa.
The second was secured by Georgia's Adam Okruashvili after his compatriot Levani Matiashvili was forced to pull out when he sustained an injury following a ko-soto-gake by Okruashvili.
In a show of true sportsmanship from the Georgian judoka, Okruashvili stayed on the tatami to check on the condition of his colleague and helped him up to receive medical treatment.
After a breathless start to the year, the IJF World Judo Tour is due to resume in March with back-to-back Grand Prix in Georgia and Turkey.
Watch the latest action on Judo TV here.
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