Max Stewart (-90kg) made it a hat-trick of bronze medals for Great Britain at the Zagreb Grand Prix on the final day of action in Croatia.
Stewart started the day in style throwing Slovakia’s Peter Zilka for a spectacular ippon. That result set up a quarter final against Poland’s Piotr Kuczera.
The 21 year old Pole was a bronze medallist at the European Championships in Kazan earlier this year and was a tough obstacle for the Stewart Academy judoka to overcome.
Kuczera came out of the blocks quickly and forced Stewart to concede an early shido. From that moment on it was all Stewart as Kuczera struggled to keep up with the Briton’s intensity and speed. The Pole was clearly struggling as the contest entered the final minute, but Kuczera managed to avoid conceding a shido for passivity and clung on to win the match. Stewart moved into the repechage and a chance for a bronze medal against another Polish opponent, Patryk Ciechomski.
Ciechmoski was on the attack immediately but Stewart successfully escaped both of the Pole’s early attacks. Then after a lovely piece of transition judo, Stewart applied an arm lock in ne-waza forcing Ciechomski to tap up with just over a minute registered on the clock.
Stewart throws Zilka for an ippon in the first round.
Stewart then had a chance to win Great Britain’s third bronze medal of the Grand Prix against Gabor Ver of Hungary.
Ver was a force to be reckoned with having overcome Klammert (CZE) and Synyavsky (UKR) before losing to eventual silver medallist Li Kochman (ISR) in the semi finals on route to his showdown with Stewart.
Stewart started well and after two minutes looked more threatening than his Hungarian opponent. Then mid way through the contest Stewart used his right leg to hook behind Ver’s left knee whilst simultaneously driving him powerfully into the floor to score his third ippon of the day and take the bronze medal.
Stewart had been in fine form all day and deserved to head back to the UK with his first Grand Prix medal.
“I fought well today and thought I could have made it to the final, but I’m delighted to win my first GP medal”, said Stewart.
Elsewhere Philip Awiti-Alcaraz suffered a disappointing first round defeat to Laurin Boehler (AUT) in the -100kg category. Awiti-Alcaraz had a 100% record against the Austrian going into the contest but was thrown for a yuko mid way throw the match. Although the Enfield judoka managed to pull back a shido he could not find a way around the Austrian’s strong defensive work.
Max Stewart and Philip Awiti-Alcaraz will both be in action at the 2016 Glasgow European Open at the Emirates Arena on Saturday 15 October. Tickets are available from as little as £2.50 and all tickets grant you access to both sessions of judo.
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