Idalys Ortiz was one of two gold medallists for hosts Cuba on the final day of the IJF Grand Prix in Havana ©IJF

Hosts Cuba claimed two gold medals on the final day of the International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Prix in Havana as Idalys Ortiz and Asley Gonzalez topped the women’s over 78 kilogram and men’s under 90kg podiums respectively.

Olympic champion Ortiz beat French outsider Lucie Louette Kanning in the second final of the day, pouncing on her opponent’s first minor error to send her into a huge rolling movement for an  ippon.

The first women’s over 78kg bronze medal fight opposed Brazil’s Maria Suelen Altheman against Mexico’s Vanessa Zambotti with the latter coming out on top, while Ukraine’s Svitlana Iaromka defeated Puerto Rico’s Melissa Mojica in the second.

Cuba’s gold medal tally for the day was doubled when 2013 world champion Gonzalez got the better of Hungary’s Krisztian Toth in the men’s under 90kg final.

The first throwing attempt came from 2014 world silver medallist Toth, but it was perfectly blocked by number two seed Gonzalez, who then launched a powerful left handed drop-seoi-nage for no score.

After an unsuccessful yoko-tomoe-nage attempt, the Hungarian was penalised with a shido as Gonzalez took control at the end of the final.

Stuck on the edge of the fighting area, the Cuban was about to step out, which would have given him a shido, but he strategically avoided it by launching an attack.

The smallest point difference was ultimately enough to determine Gonzalez the winner, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Switzerland’s Ciril Grossklaus beat Ukraine’s Quedjau Nhabali in the first bronze medal fight and was joined on the third step of the podium by Serbia’s Aleksandar Kukolj, who saw off the challenge of China’s Xunzhao Cheng.

Cuba's Asley Gonzalez claimed top honours in the men's under 90kg category
Cuba's Asley Gonzalez claimed top honours in the men's under 90kg category ©IJF

Despite Toth’s disappointment, there was success for Hungary in the women’s under 78kg category as Abigel Joo overcame Germany’s Luise Malzahn in the final.

Having overcome reigning Olympic champion Kayla Harrison of the United States on her way to the gold medal match, Joo threw Malzahn for a perfect ippon to seal victory.  

Harrison ensured the consolation of a bronze medal after beating home favourite Yalennis Castillo, to whom the American offered her prize money, while Italy’s Assunta Galeone took home third-place honours at the expense of Great Britain’s Natalie Powell.

There was also a gold medal on the last day of action for Ukraine’s Artem Bloshenko, who outdid world silver medallist Karl-Richard Frey of Germany in the men’s under 100kg final.

Frey was penalised two times for a gripping error before Bloshenko unbalanced him with a ko-soto-gari for ippon to ensure his first Grand Prix victory since triumphing in Tbilisi in 2014.

World number one Elmar Gasimov of Azerbaijan, the winner of 2015 World Judo Masters, was eliminated by Russia’s Kazbek Zankishiev, who then lost to Bloshenko.

Gasimov’s compatriot Elkhan Mammadov was one of the two bronze medallists, beating the United Arab Emirates’ Ivan Remarenco, along with Hungary’s Miklos Cirjenics, who defeated Russia’s Adlan Bisultanov.

Hungary's Abigel Joo came out on top in the women's under 78kg category
Hungary's Abigel Joo came out on top in the women's under 78kg category ©IJF

The last final of the event opposed Hungarian veteran Barna Bor, winner of the 2015 Baku Grand Slam, and Russian giant Renat Saidov.

It took Saidov, who stands at 6ft 7in, only six seconds to execute a perfect uchi-mata and claim the gold medal.

Germany’s Andre Breitbarth and Cuba’s Alex Garcia Mendoza won the bronze medals after beating Austria’s Daniel Allerstorfer and Russia’s Andrey Volkov respectively.

World number one Teddy Riner of France didn’t compete in Havana but is due to be back in action when the World Judo Tour continues with the Paris Grand Slam, scheduled to take place on February 6 and 7.  

"We had a really great event here in Havana and it was fantastic to see how much the public understand judo," said Vladimir Barta, IJF head sports director, at the end of the competition.

"They know and appreciate the winner even if this is against a local athlete.

"The Cuban public really showed fair play."

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