As battle continued on day two of Croatia’s annualJudo Grand Prixat the Zagreb Arena, Kosovo’sAkil Gjakovawas head and shoulders above the competition and became our man of the day.
At the semi final stage he defeated world number twoRustam Orujovof Azerbaijan with an exquisite piece of footwork to earn a place in the final of the under 73 kilogram division.
Gjakova 🇽🇰 "When I came to the tournament I knew I could get a medal because I am in great shape. But the fight against Orujov was a turning point. I lost to him twice before, but this time I had a good strategy and it worked. After that I knew I could be on top of the podium" pic.twitter.com/sHLm1DWkhJ
— Judo (@Judo) July 28, 2018
There he faced Italy’sFabio Basile, the under 66 kilogram Olympic champion. In a nervy contest, Paris Grand Slam winner Gjakova became the first male judoka from Kosovo to win Grand Prix gold as he defeated Basile. Towards the end of the bout Gjakova capitalised on a weak attack from his opponent to score a waza ari with a great counter attack and held on for a win which will long be celebrated in his homeland.
It was his second World Judo tour gold of what is turning into a fantastic year for the Kosovar judoka and it showed just how strong his nation’s judo team is becoming.
“I feel very good, when I think that there was a lot of good judokas and I’m very proud of myself – I worked very much and I came here I won so this was a very good day for me,”said Akil Gjakova.“The atmosphere is very good in our team; we are all like a family, our coach is like our family. When we have problems we talk to each other, so I think it’s easy for us,”he added.
WOMAN OF THE DAY
Our woman of the day was happy to sign autographs for young judo fans after her win, but France’sMarie Eve Gahiewas all business in the final against Japan’sYoko Onowhich was an epic encounter.