Hosts Russia disappoint fans at Judo Grand Slam
One of the top four Judo Grand Slam Tournaments, which was held in Moscow over the weekend, boasted a record number of more than 500 athletes from all over the world, but turned out a failure for the hosts.
Born in Japan, Judo has gained a lot of popularity as both a martial art and a sport in Russia.
The two nations are favorites at any event, and the Moscow Grand Slam tournament was no exception.
However, the Russian women's team performance was below-par as they only managed to claim one bronze.
That medal came through two-time European champion Natalya Kuzyatina, who was overcome by Japan's Yuka Nishida in the semi-final of the under-52kg category.
Meanwhile, Japan became the most successful nation at the tournament, taking four golds.
However, the Russian men did give the home crowd more reasons to celebrate. Musa Mogushkov claimed the first gold for Russia after beating Korean Ju Jin Kim in the 66kg final.
It was the biggest win in the 22-year-old’s career so far, and he confessed it was something special to win on the home mat.
“Home walls always help… On the other hand, they mean some extra pressure… I can see so many fans here, from all over Russia, and I felt their support. I think it is a privilege for any athlete to win on home soil,” Mogushkov said.
Two more Russians got through to their finals, but it was only 2009 world champion Ivan Nifontov, who claimed another gold.
Nifontov’s teammate, Tagir Haybullaev, found Brazilian Lusiano Correa too tough to crack.
The 2009 European champion gave his all to find a winning way, but it was still not enough to add another gold to his collection.
“Frankly, I am very upset. A month ago, I lost to him in Brazil and was looking for payback here in Moscow. But I failed. I hope we will face each other at the World Championships, and I will do far better there,” Haybullaev said.
Failure makes the strong even stronger and fans will be hoping this motto works perfectly with the Russian athletes all the way to London 2012.