Barbara Matic fought herself back into the world top with her gold medal at the Grand Slam in Budapest. The Croatian hope and frontrunner was away for 2.5 years from the podium in the IJF World Tour. This month’s silver in Dubrovnik was not a grade. Although she performs well at European Championships most of the times, this gold medal in Budapest was unexpected. It was more than four years ago since she won a World Tour event and almost five years a gold medal outside her country Croatia.
Marie-Eve Gahie (FRA), with the red backnumber of a reigning world champion, was a terrifying scarecrow in the category. After a little fright during the first contest where she was countered by Serafina Moscalu (ROU) for a waza-ari, she resumed the path of victory. However, she didn’t take into account the determination of Barbara Matic (CRO), who eliminated the Frenchwoman in the next round. With that momentum, the Croatian then eliminated the current world silver medalist, Barbara Timo (POR), the same Timo who lost to Gahie in Tokyo last year. So, it was a beautiful day for Matic. In the final she faced Gahie’s team-mate, Margaux Pinot, who continues to believe that she could go to the Olympic Games next year. Nothing is finalised yet and the choice for the French federation won't be easy.
Pinot did not really take advantage of Gahie's bad day as in the final, on an overly strong push from the Frenchwoman, Matic took the opportunity to throw her with a soto-makikomi, which was awarded waza-ari. The Croatian had a really good day, earning her quite a pot of points.
Marie-Eve Gahie looked a little uncertain today, swinging between an attitude totally in line with her world champion status and the next second, risking being knocked down by any of her opponents. The French champion still has a few months to regain serenity. What is certain is that she will not leave Budapest with a bronze medal, this one going to the Austrian Michaela Polleres (AUT). The 2nd bronze medal went to the world silver medalist, Barbara Timo (POR) who, after 2 minutes of golden score, threw Perez with a combination of sode-tsuri-komi-goshi and ko-uchi gari for ippon.