After becoming the first Australian judoka to ever medal on the International Judo Federation’s (IJF) Grand Slam circuit in 2018, Katharina Haecker has created history again, winning Australia’s first-ever Grand Prix gold medal.
Haecker defeated four opponents including the number one seed, Martyna Trajdos from Germany, before taking on Canadian and ten-time Judo World Tour medallist, Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard, in the final.
The Rio Olympian was able to secure the gold in less than a minute in the 63kg category, when she took control of the final by scoring a first waza-ari on o-soto-otoshi, following up with an immobilization for ippon in Tel Aviv.
Haecker was ecstatic about winning both hers and Australia’s first-ever Grand Prix gold medal.
“I can’t put into words what this means to me and how proud I am to achieve this for my country,” she said.
“People keep saying, ‘Your dreams are too big,’ they couldn’t be more wrong.
“Dream big, work hard and never settle,” she finished.
The 27-year-old has put the judo world on notice in recent times, with a gold medal win only being a matter of time after winning silver at the Marrakech Grand Prix in March of this year, and bronze at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in October 2018.
In total, Hacker has claimed five continental championships, seven IJF World Tour medals, a World Cup gold and three International Tournament victories, and looks to compete in her second Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.
This result earns Haecker further valuable Olympic qualification points, with her next events being the Paris and Dusseldorf Grand Slams later in February.
Written by Liana Buratti of the Australian Olympic Committee