Judokas from four Latin American countries made firm steps towards qualifying for the upcoming Rio de Janeiro-2016 Olympic Games, having ranked among the best athletes during the Second Grand Prix of Judo held recently in Havana.

Judokas from four Latin American countries made firm steps towards qualifying for the upcoming Rio de Janeiro-2016 Olympic Games, having ranked among the best athletes during the Second Grand Prix of Judo held recently in Havana.Cuba and Brazil, the region’s best ranked teams, earned the highest recognition mainly due to the excellent performance of Idalis Ortiz and Asley González (Cuba) and Sarah Menezes and Eric Takabatake (Brazil).

Ortiz, Olympic champion in London-2012, and world champion in Rio de Janeiro-2013 and Cheliabinsk-2014 in the 78 kg+ division, became the winner in her category by defeating her four rivals for ippon. She has thus improved her position in the world ranking by adding 300 points.

Meanwhile, González, runner-up in London-2012 and in Rio de Janeiro-2013, also enhanced his ranking with 300 new points by leading the 90kg division.

This Cuban male judoka now aims to win one of the 22 direct quotas granted by the International Judo Federation for the upcoming Olympics.

In the meantime, Menezes, women’s 48kg division winner and current Olympic champion, is now far ahead in the individual ranking table after she became the winner in her category.

In the semi-finals, Menezes defeated Dayaris Mestre, Cuba’s Pan-American champion in Toronto-2015 for ippon.

With the bronze she won in her division, Mestre added 120 points to her ranking.

Judokas from four Latin American countries made firm steps towards qualifying for the upcoming Rio de Janeiro-2016 Olympic Games, having ranked among the best athletes during the Second Grand Prix of Judo held recently in Havana.The world’s current gold medallist in this division, Argentinean Paula Pareto, won the other bronze and is likely to get a place for the Olympics.

Cuba also won a silver medal in the 68kg division with the performance of Maricet Espinosa, and a bronze in the 100kg+ division in the hands of Alex García. They both now have more chances to earn quotas for the Olympics during the Pan-American Championship scheduled for April 28-30 in Havana, as the winners from all divisions alike will get 400 points.

Takabatake afforded Brazil an even greater joy when he became the winner for the men’s 90kg division. He had previously come second during the first Grand Prix in Havana.

The South American women’s team also won two bronze medals: Rafaela Silva (57kg) -world champion in Rio de Janeiro-2013- and María Portela (70kg).

Also noteworthy was the bronze medal won by Mexican veteran Vanessa Zambotti (78kg+). The Pan-American champion of Rio de Janeiro-2007 thus earned more points in the qualifying phase for Rio-2016.

Russia topped the medal table with three gold and one bronze, followed by Cuba (2-1-2), Israel (2-1-0), Brazil (2-0-2), Hungary (1-4-2), Germany (1-2-2), the United States (1-1-1), Azerbaijan (1-0-2) mand Ukraine (1-0-1).

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