Judo has returned to the land of Champions: Georgia. And as is the tradition, the Tbilisi stadium was packed with judo-crazy Georgian fans on day one of what promises to be a thrilling Grand Slam event.
An all-Serbian final
At -48kg, stalwart Milica Nikolic took gold with a narrow win over the up-and-coming Andrea Stojadinov in an all-Serbian final
Vladimir Barta, the IJF Head Sport Director, awarded the medals.
Azerbaijan’s Turan Bayramov put an end to Georgian hopes at -60kg with an amazing and unorthodox attack on Giorgi Sardalashvili – much to his delight.
Shengeli Pitskhelauri, the Deputy Head of Georgia’s State Security Service awarded the medals.
Uzbekistan’s talisman Diyora Keldiyorova faced Distria Krasniqi from Kosovo in the -52 kilo final – and she secured one of the biggest wins of her career, throwing Krasniqi twice, with her trademark drop technique and attacking style.
IJF Sport Director Michael Tamura awarded the medals.
“This is the result of the technical and tactical work that I’ve done with my coaches,” she said afterwards. “Defeating the Olympic Champion is a big step forward for me towards my dreams.”
At -66kg, Kubanychbek Aibek Uulu showed some exceptional footwork to give Kyrgyzstan its first-ever Grand Slam Gold.
Mohammed Meridja, IJF Education & Coaching Director, handed him his medals
“Me and my team are really happy and we are going to celebrate today,” he said afterwards. “But from tomorrow I’ll be training again and next week I’ll compete again on the tatami. I’d also like to express my gratitude to my parents, they’re always supporting me and watching me at home on TV.”
At -57kg, Serbia’s Marica Perisic defeated another Kosovan – Olympic Champion Nora Gjakova -and she was absolutely delighted!
Florin Daniel Lascau, the IJF Head Referee Director, awarded the medals.
Georgia has its own brand of judo
Georgian athletes certainly have their own brand of judo: powerful pick-ups and passionate displays of emotion characterise this nation of fighters. Olympic Silver Medallist Vazha Margvelashvili didn’t make it to the final, but his explosive Ippons gave the fans plenty to cheer about.
Don’t miss the next two days of this dynamic Grand Slam.