Belgium's Joachim Bottieau claimed a surprise win in the men's under 81 kilogram category at the International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Prix in Düsseldorf today.
The 25-year old underdog ousted 2013 world champion Loïc Pietri from France in the semi-final before he beat Georgia's Avtandil Tchrikishvili in the final, thanks largely to his dogged defence towards the end of the contest.
Both athletes were penalised for passivity after two minutes and 15 seconds, and shortly after the Georgian was given another penalty, although he still looked in good shape to claim the title.
But Bottieau showed determination and resilience, ensuring he remained on top before he closed out a superb victory, which earned him valuable Olympic ranking points for Rio 2016.
Pietri did manage a podium finish as he earned bronze by virtue of a win against László Csoknyai, while in the other battle for third place local star Sven Maresch sealed an excellent victory over London 2012 bronze medallist Antoine Valois-Fortier as he bagged a decisive ippon halfway through the fight.
Japan continued their successful Grand Prix as Chizuru Arai clinched their fourth gold medal of the event so far as she won a tentative contest against Germany's Szaundra Diedrich in the women's under 70kg class.
That result followed more disappointment for the host nation as Iljana Marzok lost out to Dutch youngster Sanne Van Dijke for bronze, and German top seed Laura Vargas Koch also could not finish on the podium due to an injury, which handed the other bronze to Canada's Kelita Zupancic.
Arai's teammate Shohei Ono, a world champion in 2013, defied his seeding to win the men's under 73kg category with victory over Georgia's Nugzari Tatalashvili.
Number one seed Sagi Muki of Israel sealed bronze thanks to a dominant performance against Brazil's Marcelo Contini, and in the other third-place contest, An Changrim of South Korea showed why he is one to watch with an accomplished display to beat Victor Scvortov of the United Arab Emirates.
Elsewhere, Anna Schlesinger got her career as a British judoka off to the best possible start by reigning supreme in the women's under 63kg division.
Schlesinger, who previously represented Israel, scored a superb ippon in her final match-up with Munkhzaya Tsedevsuren, whose silver medal was Mongolia's fourth of the Grand Prix.
"I'm very happy with my performance today," said Schlesinger.
"It is my first gold medal as a Great Britain fighter and I enjoyed hearing the national anthem playing for me."
Japan's Tashiro Miku and German Martyna Trajdos both took bronze medals with victories over Mariana Silva of Brazil and Austria's Magdalena Krssakova respectively.
The event continues tomorrow with the men's under 90kg, under 100kg and over 100kg competitions and the women's under 78kg and over 78kg tournaments.
Watch the latest action on Judo TV here.
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