article by Nicola Pucci

It’s not that judo is a discipline in Argentina that has given the Albiceleste colors so much satisfaction. At the Olympics, only in 2008, in Beijing, Paula Pareto was the first athlete able to get on the podium at the Games, taking bronze in the -48 kg category.finishing behind Romanian Alina Dumitru and Cuban Yanet Bermoy.

Four years later, in London, Pareto almost didn’t replicate that exploit, forced to surrender in the final for third and fourth place to the Belgian Charline Van Snick, thus remaining off the podium but confirming himself as an athlete of international standing. And if this petite girl from Buenos Aires, where she was born on January 16, 1986, began practicing judo at the age of nine together with her younger brother Marco, defending the colors of La Plata Students Cluband who began to make himself known at just 19 years old at the Pan American Judo Championships in 2005, in Caguas, Puerto Rico, winning the silver medal (and then, later, collecting 6 golds, the last of which in Gudalajara in 2020 , 3 silvers and 4 bronzes), finds its first place with the bronze medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, when only Bermoy herself and the Brazilian Daniela Polzin do better than her (it will also be gold in 2011 in Gudalajara and silver in 2015 in Toronto, beaten in the final by the Cuban Dayaris Mestre), here in the Carioca city she is ready to fight for the success that would project her into the Olympus of Argentine sport.

Because in the meantime, in the four-year period from the London Games (2012) to the Rio de Janeiro Games (2016), he rises to the rank of top-class judokaobviously reaching complete maturation with the exploits at the World Championships, when she won silver in 2014 in Cheliabinsk, Russia, overtaken in the final by the Japanese Ami Kondo, then triumphing the following year in Astana, Kazakhstan, when she found another Japanese, Haruna Asami, in her path in the final.

The -48 kg category. awards the first judo medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics. E the gold ends up around the neck of the expert Paula Pareto, credited with the number two seed and reigning world champion. Argentina, atArena Carioca 2, draws a near-perfect performance for what should be one of the last tournaments of his careerat least according to what he declared before the five-ring competition.

The 30-year-old from Buenos Aires therefore returns to the Olympic podium after the bronze won eight years earlier in Beijing, but this time climbs to the top step of the podium thanks to the waza-ari scored against the South Korean Jeong Bo-Kyeong in the final, after having eliminated, one after the other, the Russian Irina Dolgova, beaten by ippon, the Hungarian Eva Csernoviczki, who had been the bronze medalist in London, and in the semi-final her eternal rival Ami Kondothus taking revenge for the 2014 World Cup. For Argentina, at the home of historic rivals Brazil, it’s a big celebrationalso because Pareto’s two medals are to date the only ones won in judo at the Games.

In the matches for the bronze medal, Kondo herself in turn gave the country of the Rising Sun the first Olympic podium, thanks to a yuko scored against the Mongolian Urantsetseg Munkhbat right at the end of regulation time. The number one seed in the tournament therefore has to settle for fifth place, as the Cuban Dayaris Mestre, who after an excellent tournament saw her path stop in the presence of the Kazakh Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh, winner by ippon. Here comes the double insult, therefore, for Mongolia, given that Galbadrakh had changed sporting nationality precisely to avoid internal confrontation with the 2013 world champion.

However, the adventure of Valentina Moscatt, the first Italian judoka to take to the tatami of the five-ring event, lasts just one match. The representative of the lightest category was in fact defeated by the Vietnamese Văn Ngọc Túwho showed herself to be more proactive, thus winning by two shido to one, while Moscatt’s latest attacks did not have the desired effects. The hostess Sarah Menezes, champion of London 2012, was also among those disappointed during the day and was forced this time to a seventh position which could only be too tight for her. in light of the victory of the Argentine rival and after the defeats suffered against Mestre in the quarter-finals and against Munkhbat in the repechage.

And now that the five-ring event in Paris 2024 is approaching, Paula Pareto, who despite her intentions will continue to compete until the Tokyo 2020 Games, where she will be eliminated in the third round by the Japanese Funa Tonaki and will have the honor of carry the albiceleste banner in the closing ceremony, she waits for even an Argentinian male to be able to match her on the tatami. Winning the first Olympic medal.

2024-02-21 15:20:00


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