Olympic champion Kayla Harrison returned to the world stage in style today as she powered to Judo Grand Prix gold inside the City Sports Coliseum on the final day of the Havana Grand Prix.
Harrison, who at London 2012 became the first American to win an Olympic judo gold medal, had been sidelined for a year coming into Cuba's inaugural Grand Prix through injury.
That did not stop her returning home with gold hanging around her neck though, as she won a battle of shido penalties to overcome French world number one and European champion Audrey Tcheumeo in the women's under 78 kilogramme weight category.
Beijing Olympic silver medallist Yalennis Castillo had the crowd on their feet for the first time as she sealed the first Cuban medal of the day with victory over Russia's Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Anastasiya Dmitrieva in the first bronze medal final.
The second was won by Samsun Grand Prix winner Luise Malzahn of Germany after an ippon felled Canada's world number nine Catherine Roberge.
China's Ma Sisi continued her fine run of form in the women's heaviest weight category, over 78kg, as she beat Germany's European bronze medallist Franziska Konitz to seal a second successive gold.
The Chinese heavyweight had won the European Madrid Open just last week and overcame her German opponent in Havana by a single yuko score.
Cuban fans and athletes alike were left to rue a missed opportunity in the two bronze medal matches as both Gusmary Garcia Savigne and Idalys Ortiz lost their fights.
World and Olympic champion Ortiz missed out on a home medal after scoring a single shido penalty more than European champion Emilie Andeol of France, while cadet world champion Garcia Savigne was beaten by Russia's Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Ksenia Chibisova.
Perhaps the biggest shock of the day came in the men's under 100kg contest where Belgium's Junior World Championships bronze medallist Toma Nikiforov topped an International Judo Federation World Tour podium for the first time with victory against Switzerland's Rijeka Grand Prix bronze medallist Flavio Orlik.
The 21-year-old had powered to the final after winning two of his three contests by ippon, as well as shocking Czech Republic's world number one and European champion Lukas Krpalek, and continued this form in the final as he threw his opponent with a drop seoi-nage after 80 seconds.
The two bronze medals were won by Russia's European bronze medallist Adlan Bisultanov and Brazil's two-time Pan American champion Hugo Pessanha as they triumphed over Hungary's Gergo Fogasy and Sweden's Martin Pacek respectively.
Georgian world number and World Championship runner-up Varlam Liparteliani showed why he is the one to beat in the men's under 90kg contest as he surged to victory over double Olympic medallist Tiago Camilo of Brazil in the final.
Just 80 seconds was enough to settle the first bronze medal tie as Russia's European silver medallist Kirill Voprosov threw Christophe Lambert with a drop seoi-nage for ippon.
The second took slightly longer as Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Beka Gviniashvili added a second medal of the contest for Georgia with a ko-uchi-gari for ippon with 14 seconds left against Switzerland's Rijeka Grand Prix bronze medallist Ciril Grossklaus.
The final contest of the Grand Prix, the men's over 100kg event, brought success for Russian giant Renat Saidov as the Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist defeated British surprise package Chris Sherrington.
Georgian top seed Adam Okruashvili was unable to contest his bronze medal final due to injury, handing the win to Hungary's Barna Bor.
The second fight brought a final cheer from the local fans as Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Oscar Brayson felled Georgia's Levani Matiashvili with ippon after just 24 seconds of action.
Athletes are now get set to travel to Hungary for the first Budapest Grand Prix on June 21 and 22.
Watch the latest action on Judo TV here.
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