Katharina Haecker and Aoife Coughlan show grit, strength on big stage
Katharina Haecker starts the year off strong
Competing in her first event of the season, Katharina Haecker looked strong in her Women’s -63 kg Division first-round match against the tough Hungarian, Hedvig Karakas. The two judokas fought hard to score in regulation but would need the golden score period to settle the match. In the end, it was Haecker who would come out on top after scoring the Waza-ari with an Ashi-waza takedown at 1:34 into the golden score period.
Haecker’s second-round match was against Germany’s Nadja Bazynski who looked convincing in her first-round win over Nana Kota of Japan. The match started frantically with the pair working to gain control over their opponent. Just 44 seconds into the contest, Bazynski was able to connect with a Ashi-waza takedown that scored the German a Waza-ari, however, Haecker was quick to respond and escape the hold of the Bazynski bringing the match to a restart.
Being down a score invigorated the Australian who remained calm but fought intently. She attempted several takedowns, but the German foiled her plans and was able to avoid giving up a score to the Australian. As time expired in regulation, it was Bazynski who would claim the victory by Waza-ari, but Haecker showed tremendous fight and determination in the loss.
Another strong outing for Aoife Coughlan
After an unfortunate ruling that saw Aoife Coughlan miss an opportunity to make the podium at the European Open in Sarajevo, the 26-year-old Australian was keen to solidify her position in the Women’s -70 kg Division. Her second-round opponent was Hilda Jager of the Netherlands. The pair were well matched and fought hard, but after receiving two Shido’s earlier in the match, Jager was given a third with just 15 seconds remaining in the contest, awarding Coughlin the win by ippon.
In her quarter-finals match, Coughlan would face the Tokyo Olympic Silver Medallist, Michaela Polleres of Austria. The match was slow to start as both judokas methodically worked to gain an advantage and it was Coughlan who found it at a minute and a half into the match when she was able to score a Waza-ari with a strong Seoi-nage takedown.
As the match progressed, Coughlan continued to maintain control over her opponent, foiling Polleres attempts to score and attempting several strong takedowns of her own. With time nearing expiration in regulation, Coughlan was again able to take the Austrian down, this time with a Ko-soto-gake that scored her a second Waza-ari and ended the match with 15 seconds remaining in regulation time.
Another semi-final appearance for Coughlan
For the second consecutive event, Coughlan again found herself in the semi-finals of the Women’s -70 kg Division. Her opponent this time was Shiho Tanaka of Japan. The two competitors were poised to secure their spot in the gold medal match and fought with great determination, but it was Shiho who would claim the victory after Coughlan was given a third Shido with 12 seconds remaining in the contest.
It's 5th Place for Coughlan
Coughlan’s bronze medal match saw her face off against the IJF World #2 and former world champion Marie Eve Gahie of France. The match started quickly with Gahie on the offensive first which led to a quick shido that was given to Coughlan for avoiding her opponent’s grip. As the match continued, the French competitor continued to steer the tempo, searching for an opening, and nearly landing several strong takedowns but Coughlan was too strong. The resilient Australian was able to move quickly and avoid Gahie’s attacks, a tactic that would ultimately lead cost her as she was given a third shido with six seconds remaining in regulation time.
What’s next for Team JudoAus
Next up for Team JudoAus is the European Open in Warsaw, Poland on the 26 – 27 of February.
Fourteen competitors will compete in 9 divisions as they continue on their European tour.
More updates and news will be announced as the events draw near.
Author: Charles Hall
Information in this article can be found on the IJF Tel Aviv Grand Slam Competition site: https://bit.ly/3GVSpLv