Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 November 2019

Klara Apotekar continues Olympics preparation with gold at IJF Abu Dhabi Grand Slam

The 22-year-old Slovenian was awarded the 78kg final when the German Luise Malzahn was disqualified for an illegal lock

Klara Apotekar, in blue, takes on Luise Malzahn at the IJF Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. Pawan Singh / The National
Klara Apotekar, in blue, takes on Luise Malzahn at the IJF Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. Pawan Singh / The National

Klara Apotekar believes her build-up for a first appearance at the Olympics is gathering pace after winning gold at the IJF Abu Dhabi Year of Tolerance Grand Slam at the Mubadala Arena on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Slovenian was awarded the 78kg final when the German Luise Malzahn was disqualified for an illegal lock of Apotekar’s elbow in the Golden Score decider after a scoreless deadlock at the end of regulation time.

“I had met Luise twice before and won both times. So I was a little bit confident, and at the end she did a “hansoku-maake” (serious violation) and I won,” Apotekar told The National.

“All the fights were hard but I managed to go through every contest and at the end I was lucky in the final.”

Apotekar was appearing at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam for the fourth year. She won gold on her debut in the capital city in 2016 but could only finish seventh the following two years.

“Abu Dhabi hasn’t been so lucky for me in the last two years, so, to come here and win my second gold gave me a really happy feeling,” she said.

“It’s been a good year for me as I qualified for Tokyo 2020, my first Olympics, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m super excited and will continue to build up for the big occasion.”

Apotekar will next compete in the final Grand Slam of the year in Osaka from November 22-24 and the season ending Masters in Qingdao from December 12-14.

“The Osaka Grand Slam and the Masters are the two majors for this year and then I also plan to compete in other events on my build-up to the Olympics,” she added.

The second of the women’s gold that was on offer on the final day of the three-day event went to South Korea’s Han Mi-jin.

Han defeated Anne Fatouma M’Bairo by ippon in the 78kg-plus final for the first of the two golds for South Korea on the night

Cho Gu-ham scored a similar win by ippon over Zelym Kotsoiev of Azerbaijan in the men’s 100kg final.

A third gold for the Koreans was denied when Spain’s Nikola Sherazadishvili edged out Gwak Dong-han in the dying seconds of the Golden Score in the 90kg final.

Roy Meyer of the Netherlands grabbed the final gold on the night with victory over Ukrainian Yakiv Khammo in the 100kg-plus final.

The UAE’s medal hopes all but ended after their Moldovan-born Ivan Remarenco was forced to pull out from the 100kg competition after suffering from a bout of flu on the day.

South Korea topped the medals table with three golds, a silver and four bronze. The Netherlands were second with 2g-1s-1b ahead of Slovenia 2-1-0, Ukraine 1-1-0, Italy 1-1-0 and Turkey 1-0-1. Spain, Kazakhstan, Kosovo and North Korea won a gold each.

Updated: October 27, 2019 09:34 AM

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