Excitement ran high early at the first day of the Zagreb Grand Prix as two American judoka continued to win their matches and secured themselves in contention for medal victories.
Adonis Diaz (-60kg) won his first two preliminary round fight against Kliko Nzibe of Gabon and David Starkel of Slovenia to win his pool. In the semi-final round, Belgrade European Cup silver medalist David Pulkrabek of Czech Republic was spectacularly thrown by Diaz with a majestic utsuri-goshi for ippon to move on to the final round, a shock finalist in Croatia. Adonis faced #2 ranked judoka Naohisa Takato of Japan in the final fight. After a short fight, Takato was ultimately the winner, securing a Silver medal for Adonis.
Angelica Delgado (-52kg) won her first two preliminary fights as well against 27th ranked Irem Korkmaz of Turkey and 26th ranked Chelsie Giles of Great Britain to win her pool. In the first semi-final, 3rd ranked Amandine Buchard of France bested Delgado by ippon to put Angelica in line for a Bronze medal match. Angelica came from behind to defeat Tashkent Grand Prix winner and 17th ranked Betina Temelkova of Israel. She trailed to a waza-ari score, but never lost her composure as she countered an osoto-gari with one of her own for a thunderous ippon for a Bronze medal.
“Overall, the team won some quality matches, earning them valuable points. The experience associated with fighting in such a prestigious tournament during the official qualifying period is paramount for the athletes’ physical and mental development,” said Coach Jhonny Prado. “It is incredible to see two athletes win medals at such a difficult leg of the IJF World Tour, especially during the Tokyo qualification period. This will definitely have positive contributions to the team’s spirit, as well as to Angelica and Adonis for their future competitions. As the team prepares for the Baku World Championships, three of the athletes are staying in Europe to train and will be either coming back or staying for the Budapest Grand Prix.”
Congratulations to Adonis and Angelica for bringing home medals! Congratulations also to all of our Team USA competitors who fought hard over the three days in Zagreb.