Idalys Ortíz (right) won bronze during the Open Judo World Championships recently held in Marrakech, Morocco. Photo: Getty Images

Three times Olympic medalist in the 78+ kilograms division, Idalys Ortíz, who won bronze in Beijing 2008, gold in London 2012, and silver in Río 2016, made a triumphant return to the mat during the final day of the Open Judo World Championships, held November 11-12 in the Moroccan city of Marrakech.
Idalys secured a well-deserved bronze in her competitive comeback, following a long absence to focus on personal projects. The athlete won Cuba’s four-member team its second medal of the competition, after Alex García secured bronze in the 100+ kg category, on November 11.
The judoka from Artemisa defeated France’s Romane Dicko by ippon just 42 seconds into the fight, to win the bronze medal. Ortíz had had a slow start to the competition, eventually winning in the Golden Score period against Vanessa Mballa Atangana from Cameroon, in a fight that lasted over five minutes.
She then went on to defeat Nihel Cheikh Rouhou from Tunisia on penalties to advance to the semifinals, where she faced Japan’s Sarah Asahina, World silver medalist in Budapest, Hungary; finally losing by ippon. Asahina went on to win gold after beating Larisa Ceric from Bosnia in the final, while the other bronze medal went to Cheikh Rouhou.

Cuba’s other female representative in the competition, the young Eliannis Aguilar, finished in seventh after losing to Ceric and Dicko in the opening rounds, with just one victory in her first fight against Nataly Sokolova of Russia.

Meanwhile, Alex García won Cuba’s first medal in the men’s competition on November 11, after defeating his compatriot Andy Granda to secure the bronze in a fight decided by wazari. García got off to a good start, beating Mbagnick Ndiaye from Senegal and Adlan Bisultanov from Russia by ippon, but lost in the semifinal to Japan’s Kokoro Kageura, after incurring three shidos (penalties). García secured a hard-won victory in the bronze medal fight, which lasted almost 10 minutes (9:59) against Alexander Mikhaylin of Russia, after the latter incurred three penalties.

Granda meanwhile, was also in top form defeating Anton Krivobokov from Russia, Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gordiienko, and Takeshi Ojitani of Japan, who won the other bronze medal.

His winning streak came to an end however, in the semifinals after facing the unshakeable Teddy Riner of France, who went on to win the gold; defeating Toma Nikiforov of Belgium in the final.
With two bronze medals, Cuba ranked fifth on the country medal chart, which was topped by Japan (1-0-1); followed by France (1-0-0); Belgium (0-1-0); and Bosnia-Herzegovina (0-1-0).