Three bronze medals for Belgian judokas in a Grand Slam!
After Jorre Verstraeten in the -60 kg and Mina Libeer in the -57 kg, Gabriella Willems also won a bronze medal in the -70 kg at the Grand Slam in Tel Aviv.
Jorre Verstraeten was back on the podium in Tel Aviv after winning bronze in the -60 kg, beating the Australian Katz, whom he had already beaten twice and who had no chance. The Leuven judoka had a magnificent run, dismissing Christodoulides of Cyprus, then Shulman of Israel, before defeating Yildiz of Turkey. But in the semi-finals of this great international tournament, he was unable to overcome Garrigós of Spain, the current double European champion, but made up for it in the third-place fight.
Mina Libeer was exempted from the first round but she had to beat Martin of South Africa and Equisoain of Spain in two hard fights to then have the right to challenge the Brazilian Rafaela Silva (30 years old/no. 3) in the quarterfinals. Although beaten by the reigning world champion, the disqualification of Daria Bilodid of Ukraine in the semi-finals gave her the opportunity to compete in the third-place match.
The last great Belgian performance came from Gabriella Willems from Liège, who also won after a hard-fought battle in the third-place match to reach the podium, her fifth Grand Slam medal after Düsseldorf (silver in 2020), Tbilisi (bronze in 2021), Abu Dhabi and Baku (silver in 2022). The Belgian judoka fought a formidable match against Teltsidou of Greece which ended in victory in extra time.
Congratulations to our judokas for these wonderful bronze medals!