Zimbabwe top female martial artist Leann Max proved her worth again when she won all her three bouts at the recent Japanese Ambassador Judo Cup tournament at Hartmann House School.
The 18-year old Girls High School Advanced Level student won two of the fights by an Ippon, the highest technical point in judo which is equivalent to a knockout in boxing or wrestling, and the other by a Wazari which constitutes pinning the opponent down for 15 seconds.
The Japanese Ambassador Judo Cup is the first tournament of the year and was presided over by the Judo Association of Zimbabwe president Debbie Jeans with Syumon Yoshiara, Japan’s top diplomat to Zimbabwe, and Minister of Sport and Recreation Makhosini Hlongwane in attendance.
The two distinguished guests, alongside world-renowned swimming icon Kirsty Coventry – who is now a member of the International Athletes Commission – teamed up to present the black belt certificates at end of competition.
Max, the Girls High School games captain, drew no surprises with her outstanding performance as she was the highest-rated judoka going on the mat.
She already possesses a gold medal from the African Union Sports Council Region Five Games staged in Luanda, Angola last December and a silver from the preceding edition in Bulawayo in 2014.
Fighting in her 60+kg category, Max knocked out the pair of Peace Sithole and Yanai Manyenga before dismissing Shannon Chatsama after the umpire’s count of 15 seconds with the latter gasping for breath.
Despite her individual brilliance, Max went home with a silver medal after her team, Honour, finished second in the overall standings which were topped by the Respect outfit led by Tapiwa Pavari.
The other contesting teams Courage and Friendship ended third and fourth respectively.
Pavari, a national team pugilist, also won all his bouts in the 60kg division against Alfred Nago of Courage, Washington Chivamba of Honour and Brett Makunde from Friendship team.
The Respect team won six of their eight fights, only conceding Manyenga’s defeat to her schoolmate Max and Blessing Muparo’s loss to Moses Mutende of Honour who also conquered in all his three battles in the 73kg division, the other two against Alan Ganje and Waddie Mosaku.
Richard Walsh, weighing 81kg, was the other Respect team member to triumph over all his three opponents Innocent Jim, Blessing Ndonoka and Ben Mashayi.
Prince Edward multi-talented sportsman Ryan Nyirenda, who is also a rugby prop and a shot-putter, beat Newton Kwaramba by an ippon and further outclassed Justice Chokomari and Nigel Masunda in the heavyweight category to seal a celebratory day for Respect team.