x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Agbegenou edges closer to 2012 quest

Frenchwoman wins 73kg division final while Al Zaabi, the UAE's remaining judoka, faces unseeded Japanese in 90kg class on final day.

Japan's Haruka Tachimoto, left, was the winner in the women's 70kg category.
Japan's Haruka Tachimoto, left, was the winner in the women's 70kg category.

ABU DHABI // Like every competitor in the International Judo Federation's world circuit, Clarisse Agbegenou's aspiration is to accumulate as many ranking points as possible for a passage to the 2012 London Olympics.

She moved a step closer to achieving her goal by racking up 200 ranking points last night from her victory over Ramila Yusubova of Azerbaijan in the IJF Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre.

The 18-year-old world No 11 from France had her opponent in a submission lock to clinch the women's 73kg division final.

"I am very pleased to have won the Abu Dhabi event but I have to go into the next two GPs in Amsterdam and Qingdao, in order to improve my rankings further, and keep my hopes of earning a ticket to next summer's Olympics," she said.

It was her first win of the year. She took a bronze in the IJF Grand Slam Tournoi de Paris in February, silver at the Under 20 French Championship in April, and was fifth in the IJF Grand Slam in Moscow in May.

Agbegenou was runner-up in Abu Dhabi last year. Her second visit was even more fruitful as she took her record to 3-0 over Yusubova.

"I had met her twice before but you never take anything for granted in this sport," Agbegenou said. "Everyone in this GP circuit comes well-prepared, and it only takes one mistake to lose a match. Luckily, I survived one early and I am happy to be winning in Abu Dhabi."

Joining her as champion last night was the world No 5, Haruka Tachimoto of Japan, winner of the 70kg final from Marie Pasquet of France.

In men's finals, the world No 2 Wang Ki-chun of South Korea won the 73kg final from Kiyoshi Uematsu of Japan; and the world No 4 Takahiro Nakai of Japan overcame Guillaume Elmont of Holland in the 83kg final.

The UAE's Khalifa Al Qubaisi was defeated in the first round of the 73kg division by Sezer Huysuz of Turkey. Humaid Al Derei had made a similar exit in the 66kg weight class on Sunday, the first day of the tournament.

Muftah Al Zaabi, the remaining Emirati in the competition, meets Ryohei Anai, an unseeded Japanese, in tonight's opening round of the 90kg division.