Isaac Bezzina, currently preparing for the GSSE 2023, travelled to Australia to fight in the Perth Oceania Continental Open, which was classified as a Grand Prix and managed to win an historical bronze medal.
This was the first time that a Maltese judoka claimed a medal at a Continental Opens. The closest Malta has ever got was with the same Bezzina, who placed fifth at the Tunis African Open.
Bezzina was uncontested in the first match, and his next bout was against the British Thompson Rhys. The latter won the contest by Ippon. Thompson went on to eventually win the category.
As this contest happened in the quarter-final round, Bezzina had the opportunity to fight for bronze.
In his first repechage contest, Bezzina threw the Pakistani Qaisar Khan with a beautiful throw, scoring Ippon, and winning his spot in the bronze medal match.
This match was against the Korean Yejun Yeo, who recently won the Asian Junior Championships. Bezzina kept on attacking and finally threw Yeo with another massive Ippon, winning the first-ever bronze medal at such a prestigious event.
Presenting the medals was Head Referee Director of the International Judo Federation, Mr Florin Daniel Lascau.
With this result, Bezzina received 350 points, and has shot up to the 76th place in the world ranking list and 38th on the Olympic Qualification Ranking.
In a statement, the Malta Judo Federation said that while it was extremely proud with its athletes, they are also thankful with the work coach Sensei Aurelian Fleisz has been doing with the athletes.
“His experience, training regimes and coaching advice is showing in the results achieved by the athletes this year,” the statement said.
“Special thanks go to SportMalta and the Maltese Olympic Committee who make the funding available.”
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