Kayla Harrison won the women's under 78kg category ©IJF

United States’ Kayla Harrison claimed her seventh International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Prix title after beating world bronze medallist Anamari Velensek in the women’s under 78 kilogram category final in Budapest. 

The Olympic champion countered for a waza-ari to open the scoring and never looked back, inundating the scoreboard as she pressed her Slovenian opponent.

Harrison registered five scores in total - the fifth was ippon, with a beautiful o-goshi just before the time ran out.

“I’m pleased, it was a tough day for me," said Harrison.

“It’s important for me to keep being the dominant fighter in this category and it’s all about Rio 2016 for me.”

The first bronze medal was claimed by Germany’s Luise Malzahn, who defeated 20-year-old Asian Championships winner Mami Umeki of Japan, while the second went to The Netherlands’ Marhinde Verkerk at the expense of Astana Grand Prix bronze medallist Assunta Galeone of Italy.

Spain's Maria Bernabeu won her first World Judo Tour event
Spain's Maria Bernabeu won her first World Judo Tour event ©IJF

Elsewhere on the women’s side, former European Open bronze medallist Maria Bernabeu won her first World Judo Tour event, beating Tbilisi Grand Prix winner Szaundra Diedrich in the under 70kg final.

The Spaniard was a composed figure in her final contest as she countered an ouchi-gari attempt from her German counterpart to finally break the deadlock with a yuko with a minute left on the clock.

The first bronze medal was won by Hungary’s Anett Breitenbach who saw off African Championships silver medallist Assmaa Niang of Morocco, before Germany’s Laura Vargas Koch beat Georgia’s Esther Stam to take the second.

There was a win for Turkey in the over 78kg category as Kayra Sayit topped the podium in her first appearance after defeating African Championships winner Nihel Cheikh Rouhou of Tunisia.

Cheikh Rouhou was penalised with a shido for dropping down and that proved to be the difference in the last women’s fight of the competition.

The first bronze medal was claimed by Germany’s Franziska Konitz who bested Belarus’ Maryna Slutskaya with a yuko from an ouchi-gari, while Cuba’s Idalys Ortiz won the second as Kazakhstan’s Gulzhan Issanova was disqualified for accumulating four penalties.

Portugal’s Celio Dias celebrated the first IJF gold medal of his burgeoning career
Portugal’s Celio Dias celebrated the first IJF gold medal of his burgeoning career ©IJF

Meanwhile on the men’s side, Portugal’s Celio Dias celebrated the first IJF gold medal of his burgeoning career as Pan American Open silver medallist Romain Buffet of France fell at the final stage of the under 90kg category. 

Buffet, who took silver at 2011 Dusseldorf Grand Prix, received a shido for passivity after Dias attacked with a weak tomoe-nage.

The Portuguese fighter scored a waza-ari from an osoto-gari and the leggy youngster almost scored with the same technique just seconds later.

“It feels just amazing to win my first IJF gold medal,” said Casablanca Open winner Dias.

“I have had some slight injury problems recently so to come back today and achieve this makes me really happy.”

The first bronze medal was won by Cuba’s former world champion Asley Gonzalez, who emerged victorious against Slovakia’s Milan Randl, while the second was captured by 20-year-old newcomer Li Kochman of Israel against beaten semi-finalist Marc Odenthal of Germany.

There were also wins for Uzbekistan’s Yakhyo Imamov, Egypt’s Ramadan Darwish and Japan’s Takeshi Ojitani in the men’s under 81kg, under 100kg and over 100kg categories respectively.

Imamov was victorious against 2014 Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Alain Schmitt of France, with Germany’s Sven Maresch and Greece’s Roman Moustopoulos taking the bronze medals.

Darwish continued his rich vein of form in the Hungarian capital as he defeated Olympic bronze medallist Dimitri Peters of Germany for top spot with Russia’s Adlan Bisultanov and Ukraine’s Artem Bloshenko joining them on the podium.  

And Dusseldorf Grand Prix runner-up Ojitani won his first Grand Prix gold medal as he bested Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Oleksandr Gordiienko of Ukraine, while Tunisia's Faicel Jaballah and Germany's Sven Heinle came away with the third-place honours. 

Watch the latest action on Judo TV here.

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