Georgios Balarjishvili wins first ever commonwealth games gold for Cyprus
At the first day of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Georgios Balarjishvili of Cyprus won the men's U66kg title after seeing off Scotland's Finlay Allan in the gold medal match with the bronze medals going to Northern Ireland's Nathon Burns and Australia's Nathan Katz. Balarjishvili claimed the first ever gold for Cyprus in the Commonwealth Games judo history. The judo tournament is held in Coventry’s Building Society Arena. Balarjishvili became the second youngest winner ever, just behind the late legend Craig Fallon in 2002.
South Africa's Michaela Whitebooi celebrates Judo gold
The 26-year-old judoka effected a Waza-ari to win the final.
South Africa's Michaela Whitebooi celebrated Judo gold in the women's -48kg competition with victory over India's Shushila Devi Likmabam at Coventry Arena on Monday.
In the golden score round, the 26-year-old judoka effected a waza-ari to win the final, with England's Amy Platten and Katryna Esposito, who claimed Malta's first medal Birmingham 2022 - sealing bronze and second medal ever for Malta at the Commonwealth Games since 1990 by Laurie Pace.
Whitebooi was delighted to keep her focus to claim gold, saying: "I knew I had to go out, nothing to lose. I pushed and I’m happy obviously at the end with the result.
"It's really big because I am showing I can get results internationally and I’m proud of myself - even without my coach being here.”
On her match-winning throw, she added: “You know what, it was just body reaction but I think I envisioned that throw even before I went on to the mat. I really wanted to win with that throw and I’m really happy that I did.”
Ashley McKenzie wins his second CWG gold
England's Ashley McKenzie successfully defended his 2014 title - with Judo missing from the Gold Coast programme - as he beat compatriot Samuel Hall in the U60kg division.
The 33-year-old top seed's victory was confirmed by ippon (combined techniques) as Australia's Joshua Katz and Vijay Kumar Yadav of India claimed the bronze medals.
I’m going to have a chilled night and I’m happy. I’ve done my job, what I’ve come to do
McKenzie was proud to keep his title and was looking forward to a quiet celebration, saying: “It feels amazing. Eight years ago I won it and I’ve won it eight years on. Everyone says I’m the old one in the group but look - I’ve got a gold baby and I couldn’t care less.
“I’m happy, I’ve done it in front of my family, I’ve done it in front of Luke, one of my coaches, my family, my girls. “I’m going to have a chilled night and I’m happy. I’ve done my job, what I’ve come to do.”
Tinka Easton takes gold for Australia
Tinka Easton claimed gold for Australia in the U52kg competition with victory over Canada’s Kelly Deguchi as Charne Griesel of South Africa and Yasmin Javadian of Northern Ireland sealed bronze.
Easton admitted she was over the moon to see her dream come true, saying: "It's so exciting.
"It's something I've been dreaming about for the last few years. It's very exciting to make it happen.
"I was falling behind the pace a bit and picked up a few penalties. It came to a point where I knew I had to switch it on and go - and it turned out OK."
Christa Deguchi expected gold U57kg
In her first appearance at the Commonwealth Games, Christa Deguchi won gold in the U57kg category. She capped off her clean run with an ippon in overtime against Britain's Acelya Toprak, who was battling in front of her fans.
“I am very happy to have won this gold medal as a Canadian. This is my first medal at the Games, I am very proud of myself!” expressed Christa Deguchi as she left the tatami.
From the start of the final, the 26-year-old athlete set her pace. The author of a spectacular point halfway through the confrontation believed that she had taken the lead in the fight, but she had to start from scratch when the officials erased it from the board.
Deguchi was undeterred and eventually scored again with an ippon after just over a minute of extra time to claim victory.
“A great medal for Christa, who was participating in her first major Games experience. This medal is part of her preparation for the World Championships in October and towards the 2024 Games!“, described her coach, Antoine Valois-Fortier.
This gold medal is the first for Canada at the Commonwealth Games since those of Nicolas Gill and Carolyne Lepage, in 2002, also disputed in England, but in Manchester. The maple leaf has only participated in four editions of the Commonwealth Games in judo, in 1990, 2002, 2014 and presently in 2022.