Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tbilisi Grand Prix 2017, Georgia - Preview

For the fourth time in history, during the next three days, all eyes will be focused on Tbilisi, the capital city of the Republic of Georgia, as the country will host the second Grand Prix of the season, after the Düsseldorf Grand Prix last February (the IJF also already organised two Grand Slams, in Paris and Baku in 2017).

Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Georgia is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. Over the years, this geographical location and moreover the fighting spirit of its athletes, has propelled Georgia to the elite ranks of the judo countries in the world.

Lying on the banks of the Kura River, Tbilisi, with a population of roughly 1.5 million inhabitants, has a long history and amazing culture, which can be observed throughout the city. But from March 31 to April 2, the only subject of discussion will for sure be the judo competition.

During three days, 252 athletes representing 36 delegations will compete in the 14 weight divisions (7 men, 7 women) at the New Sports Palace (2 Universiteti street, Tbilisi, Georgia).

Official draw of the Tbilisi Grand Prix 2017

During the draw of the competition, an important message was delivered to the coaches as the new set of refereeing rules is still under testing (since Paris Grand Slam and until the World Championships this summer in Budapest).

Thus the IJF experts will focus on ‘progressive judo‘ and more time will be given for the athletes to build positive judo. ‘The rules will be applied strictly but fairly,” said Mr. Neil Adams, IJF refereeing supervisor, who is working together with his two other colleagues, Mr. Florin Daniel Lascau and Mr. Alexander Jatskevich and with all the departments involved in the implementation of the new rules.


Mr. Mohammed Meridja, IJF Education and Coaching Director, addressed his welcome speech to all the delegates during the official draw: “Dear Sports Minister, dear President and representatives of the delegations, dear friends. On behalf of our President, Mr. Marius Vizer, I would like to welcome you all here in Tbilisi. Congratulations to the national federation, which always does its upmost to organise one of our main events. I wish good luck to all participants.“

It was then time for the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Mr. Tariel Khechikashvili, to give his speech: “Dear Friends. It is my pleasure to welcome you on the occasion of this fourth edition of the Tbilisi Grand Prix. What the Georgian Judo Federation is doing to get here with the support of our government and of the International Judo Federation is important for the development of judo in our country but also in the region.

“I want to thank the IJF President, Mr. Marius Vizer, for his permanent support for the promotion of judo in Georgia.

“The Tbilisi Grand Prix is among to most popular events in the country and judo is a leading sport for the whole society. I am honoured that the stars of judo are coming here.

“The project of the Georgian Judo Federation will continue in the upcoming years. Together with the IJF and the government we will make sure that judo continues to grow. Already judo has become an example to be followed.

From left to right: Mr. David Kevkhishvili (President GJF) - Mr. Tariel Khechikashvili (Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs) - Mr. Lomer Zhorzholiani (Vice President GJF)

“I am convinced that the atmosphere in the New Sports Arena will be amazing over the next three days and I am looking forward to watching fantastic judo made by incredible champions.

“I want once again to emphasise that we are partners with the IJF and the national federation to develop further more your beautiful sport. I wish you all good luck.

“The development of judo is a real team effort,” summarised Mr. Tariel Khechikashvili.

Mr. David Kevkhishvili, President of the Georgian Judo Federation, said: “I am warmly welcoming you all here in Tbilisi. Thank to the IJF and Mr. Marius Vizer, we have been able to successfully organise this tournament for several years. We have a really good set of staff that is getting more and more professional and they are here to help you. I wish you a nice stay, enjoy our hospitality and good luck.“

The draw was conducted by Mr. Vladimir Barta, IJF Head Sports Director and Mr. Florin Daniel Lascau, IJF Sports Director.

Every day the competition will start at 11:00 local time on two tatamis, while the final block will be held at 17:00 on one tatami.

TV news and info will be available at



Use #JudoTbilisi2017 to join in with the social media discussion 

Lucie Decosse (FRA), World and Olympic Champion, coach of the French National team, during the draw




Number of athletes: 14
Top seed athletes
CESAR Taciana (GBS): WRL 10 - 5th place at the Baku Grand Slam 2017
CHERNIAK Maryna (UKR): WRL 11 - 5th place at the Baku Grand Slam 2017
CSERNOVICZKI Eva (HUN): WRL 14 - Olympiic bronze medallist London 2012
KOYAMA Stefannie Arissa (BRA): WRL 18 - 1st Baku Grand Slam 2017


Number of Athletes: 12
Top seed athletes
MIRANDA Erika (BRA): WRL 2 - 5th Rio 2016 Olympic Games
PUPP Reka (HUN): WRL 22 - 2nd Grand Slam Baku 2017
SKRYPNIK Darya (BLR): WRL 24 - 2nd Prague European Open 2017
VAN SNICK Charline (BEL): WRL 27 - Olympic Bronze Medallist London 2012


Number of Athletes: 15
Top seed athletes
SILVA Rafaela (BRA): WRL 5 - Rio 2016 Olympic Champion
ILIEVA Ivelina (BUL): WRL 40 - 2016 European Silver Medallist
ZABLUDINA Irina (RUS): WRL 41 - 1st Pan American Open Lima 2016
GOLOMIDOVA Natalia (RUS): WRL 49 - 3rd U23 European Championships


Number of Athletes: 16
Top seed athletes
UNTERWURZACHER Kathrin (AUT): WRL 3 - 1st Grand Slam Tokyo 2016
SILVA Mariana (BRA): WRL 10 - 3rd Grand Slam Abu Dhabi 2016
LESKI Andreja (SLO): WRL 19 - 2nd Baku Grand Slam 2017
GWEND Edwige (ITA): WRL 27 - 3rd Grand Prix Tbilisi 2016


Number of Athletes: 12
Top seed athletes
RODRIGUEZ Elvismar (VEN): WRL 4 - 2nd Baku Grand Slam 2017
PORTELA Maria (BRA): WRL 8 - 2nd Lima Pan-American Open 2017
GERCSAK Szabina (HUN): WRL 32 - 1st U23 European Championships 2016
BERNHOLM Anna (SWE): WRL 40 - 5th Grand Slam Abu Dhabi 2016


Number of Athletes: 9
Top seed athletes
MALONGA Madeleine (FRA): WRL 12 - 2nd Grand Prix Düsseldorf 2017
CAMARA Sama hawa (FRA): WRL 18 - 3rd Grand Slam Paris 2017
STEVENSON Karen (NED): WRL 25 - 5th Grand Prix Düsseldorf 2017
TURCHYN Anastasiya (UKR): WRL 31 - 7th Grand Prix Düsseldorf 2017


Number of Athletes: 9
Top seed athletes
IAROMKA Svitlana (UKR): WRL 9 - 3rd Baku Grand Slam 2017
PAKENYTE Santa (LTU): WRL 14 - 5th Baku Grand Slam 2017
ALTHEMAN Maria suelen (BRA): WRL 15 - 2nd Lima Pan-American Open 2017
SLUTSKAYA Maryna (BLR): WRL 18 - 1st Prague European Open 2017

Irakli Tsirekidze, World and Olympic Champion, head coach of the Georgian national team, during the draw



Number of Athletes: 28
Top seed athletes
PAPINASHVILI Amiran (GEO): WRL 5 - 2nd Düsseldorf Grand Prix 2017
TILOVOV Mukhriddin (UZB): WRL 17 - 2nd Baku Grand Slam 2017
BESTAEV Otar (KGZ): WRL 23 - 7th Düsseldorf Grand Prix 2017
OGUZOV Albert (RUS): WRL 27 - 3rd Grand Slam Abu Dhabi 2016


Number of Athletes: 28
Top seed athletes
DOVDON Altansukh (MGL): WRL 5 - 7th Düsseldorf Grand Prix 2017
DAVAADORJ Tumurkhuleg (MGL): WRL 6 - 7th Rio 2016 Olympic Games
SHMAILOV Baruch (ISR): WRL 12 - 3rd Baku Grand Slam 2017
OLEINIC Sergiu (POR): WRL 13 - 5th Düsseldorf Grand Prix 2017


Number of Athletes: 28
Top seed athletes
MACIAS Tommy (SWE): WRL 8 - 3rd Düsseldorf Grand Prix 2017
BOBOEV Giyosjon (UZB): WRL 9 - 5th Paris Grand Slam 2017
KANIVETS Dmytro (UKR): WRL 15 - 7th Baku Grand Slam 2017
BUTBUL Tohar (ISR): WRL 18 - 3rd Paris Grand Slam 2017


Number of Athletes: 24
Top seed athletes
PENALBER Victor (BRA): WRL 10 - 2nd Grand Slam Abu Dhabi 2016
MOLLAEI Saeid (IRI): WRL 13 - 2nd Baku Grand Slam 2017
KHUBETSOV Alan (RUS): WRL 15 - 1st Grand Prix Zagreb 2016
CSOKNYAI Laszlo (HUN): WRL 20 - 2nd Grand Prix Zagreb 2016


Number of Athletes: 22
Top seed athletes
STEWART Max (GBR): WRL 19 - 5th Paris Grand Slam 2017
MARGIANI Ushangi (GEO): WRL 34 - 3rd Baku Grand Slam 2017
GANTULGA Altanbagana (MGL): WRL 41 - 2nd Grand Prix Qingdao 2016
ASSIS Gustavo (BRA): WRL 59 - 1st Lima Pan-American Open 2017


Number of Athletes: 22
Top seed athletes
PACEK Martin (SWE): WRL 8 - 1st Grand Slam Tyumen 2016
KURBONOV Soyib (UZB): WRL 15 - 1st Grand Prix Tashkent 2016
BUZACARINI Rafael (BRA): WRL 19 - 2nd Grand Prix Almaty 2016
CORREA Luciano (BRA): WRL 23 - 2nd Grand Slam Abu Dhabi 2016


Number of Athletes: 13
Top seed athletes
MOURA David (BRA): WRL 15 - 3rd Grand Slam Abu Dhabi 2016
BONDARENKO Stanislav (UKR): WRL 20 - 3rd Baku Grand Slam 2017
MATIASHVILI Levani (GEO): WRL 21 - 3rd Grand Prix Almaty 2016
OKRUASHVILI Adam (GEO): WRL 23 - 1st Grand Prix Almaty 2016

11:00 Preliminaries on two mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

Women: -48kg, -52kg, -57kg 
Men: -60kg, -66kg 

11:00 Preliminaries on two mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

Women: -63kg, -70kg
Men: -73kg, -81kg

11:00 Preliminaries on two mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

Women: -78kg, +78kg
Men: -90kg, -100kg, +100kg

Location:  New Sports Arena (2 Universiteti str, Tbilisi, Georgia)

Can a coach be a player too?

I recall IJF techie Lance Wicks pointing out to me at one particular World Championship how the Mongolian Olympic Champion Tuvshinbayar Naidan (who had been coaching the Mongolian team in that championship) had decided to take part in the team competition. Most of us found that interesting and amusing at the same time because it's not a common thing.

Well, it looks like triple World Champion Masashi Ebinuma is going to do the same thing. Judofan reports that starting April 1 (hopefully this is not an April Fool's joke), he will take coaching responsibilities for the men's team at Park 24, the club managed by Olympic Champion Hidehiko Yoshida.

Having coaching responsibilities while training for competition yourself is not an easy thing. And especially with young upstart Hifumi Abe nipping at his heels, I think Ebinuma might find that his international competition days might soon be over.

In any event, it looks like he's not taking part in the 2017 All-Japan Weight Class competition anyway, so it probably means he won't be going to the 2017 Budapest World Championships.

Still, what a great career he's had. Three world titles. And the win he had at the 2013 Rio World Championships was simply heroic (he fought on and won despite several illegal waki-gatame attempts on him which the referees and video judges woefully failed to spot).

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A preview of the All-Japan Open Weight Competition

The All-Japan Weight Class competition might be the trials for the World Championships (and thus a very important competition) but the blue ribbon event in Japan is the All-Japan Open Weight competition.

It's a competition that's usually dominated by the really big boys although some smallish players have competed in it, most notably Koga, who actually made it to the final (but lost to Ogawa). Shohei Ono made a splash in the news for his intention to skip the Weight Class competition but taking part in the Open Weight competition.

Marshall Higa of the excellent Judofan blog has done a very detailed, inside baseball-type of entry about the upcoming Open Weight competition. Most international judo fans (your truly included) would only know the big names from Japan and would not be familiar with the domestic players who seldom compete internationally. He also included a very useful draw chart that lists all the competitors and he has helpfully translated the names of the more popular players. 

I'm really no expert on Japanese judo and am not that familiar with many of the names there. A name that caught my eye is Mashu Baker. It looks like he will have to beat Takeshi Ojitani if he wants to top his pool. That's a very tall order considering how big and strong Ojitani is. Ryu Shichinohe will not have it easy in his pool either but he is the most famous name there.

The prospect of seeing Shohei Ono fight Aaron Wolf is tantalizing. And if Ono somehow prevails, he could face Daiki Kamikawa. Can Ono do it? This is judo... anything's possible! Harasawa is the biggest name in his pool.

For me the dream final would be Ono vs Baker. Ok, that's a super long shot but wouldn't that be a great match up?

Ok so that's my very naive and superficial analysis based on the very little that I know of Japanese judo. For a more expert view, read Judofan's analysis.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Does Ono have a weight problem?

According to Kyodo News, Shohei Ono will be missing the All-Japan Weight Class competition in early April to "focus on his academic studies".

Kyodo goes on to say that Ono's withdrawal means he will most likely miss out on a place at the 2017 Budapest World Championships.

It added that Ono says has not been able to prepare for the worlds as he has been putting priority on writing his thesis as a graduate student at Tenri University.

However, another Kyodo News report quoted a source close to Ono as saying he will be competing in the All-Japan Open Weight competition in late April.

So, let's get this straight. Ono is skipping the weight class competition -- even though this probably means he won't be selected for the World's in Budapest later in the year -- because he needs time to focus on his studies. But within that same month he is competing in the Open weight competition?!?

If he has time to compete in the Open weight competition, why can't he find time to compete in the weight class competition, which serves as the trials for the World's?

Could it be that he has a weight problem? Who knows. Officially, he needs to study.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Dex Elmont on competition judo: You're either in or you're out!

A nice interview with Dex Elmont about his retirement from judo. In today's highly competitive climate, it's hard stay on top without being a full-time athlete. As Elmont puts it: you're either in or you're out!

Q: Did you see that the last Australian Open’s winners, Serena Williams and Roger Federer, were aged 34 and 35 and played less matches last year than most of the other top players of the Tour. What are your ideas for a better (IJF World) Tour, a Tour that will let you go more often in Suriname and compete successfully over 35?

A: There is a big difference between tennis and judo. Tennis has more financial benefits. So even if my body was able to fight at this age, the social effects are not beneficial for my future. In life you have to make choices. Judo is becoming a full time job. Now you have to be in, OR you are out.

Click here to read the whole interview.

Krasniqi - literally grappling with greatness

A really nice piece on Distria Krasniqi, the talented training partner of Olympic and Double World Champion Majlinda Kelmendi.

In most international competitions, two fighters from the same category and country are permitted. After that, it is down to the draw to select if and when Distria and Majlinda will meet again.

As Distria is very aware, this is true for every competition except the Olympic Games, which in 2020 is to be held in Japan, the land of Judo. There can be only one Kosovar representative in the women’s under 52 kg competition in Tokyo.

To win an Olympic medal, the jewel in the crown of sporting achievements,
Distria has to gather more points than her compatriot, and world and Olympic champion, Majlinda Kelmendi.

“Judo is fair,” Distria states simply. “You fight your way up. You gather points, and then you qualify or you do not. I have an advantage over every other fighter in the world who wants  to challenge the holder of the highest titles in under 52 kg — I fight her every day.”

 Click here to read the full article.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Baku Grand Slam 2017 - Azerbaijan DAY THREE


The Baku Grand Slam 2017 came to an explosive ending in Azerbaijan as the heavyweights went toe-to-toe on the third and final day in the World Championships 2018 host city.

The second Grand Slam of 2017 featured five categories on the final day as the men’s -90kg, -100kg and +100kg categories were joined in action by the women’s -78kg and +78kg categories.

Double Paralympic champion and Azerbaijan hero Ilham ZAKIYEV was among the distinguished guests in attendance along with Greek great Ilias ILIADIS who brought the curtain down on a glorious career when he retired in December.

Double Paralympic champion Ilham Zakiyev (AZE) was in attendance at #JudoBaku2017

ZAKIYEV, 37, who is Vice President of the Azerbaijan Paralympic Committee, is preparing to compete at the Islamic Games in Baku this May and spoke of his pride at seeing the IJF World Judo Tour in his country.

“I’m very happy to see the judo family in Baku for this fantastic IJF event. I am fortunate to have a great relationship with the IJF who have always encouraged me. I am very grateful for that and I have to thank the IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER for his friendship and support.

“Judo sets an example for all other sports and Federation’s to follow. I am very proud to be part of this judo family and to see everyone in my country.”

The visually impaired judoka is adored by the Azeri public and has aspirations to continue his competitive career through until the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“I am very much looking forward to fighting at the Islamic Games at home and I have never won the competition so I am extremely motivated,” said the heavyweight star.

“I still love to be on the mat and I want to keep active and continue onwards towards the Tokyo Paralympics in judo’s homeland in 2020.”

IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER with the IJF Referee Commission, referees and members of the local organising committee

The IJF World Judo Tour will remain in Europe as it now heads to Georgia for the Tbilisi Grand Prix from Friday 31 March to Sunday 2 April. Following the Paris Grand Slam, Düsseldorf Grand Prix and the Baku Grand Slam, the second Grand Prix of the year will take place in Georgia’s capital city and judo hotbed of Tbilisi where 297 judoka and 37 nations will compete.

Rio 2016 Olympic stars will be among the judoka in Georgia chasing Grand Prix glory as Olympic champion Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO), Olympic silver medallist Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA) and Olympic bronze medallist Dirk VAN TICHELT (BEL) will all feature.

Medal table after three days of competition

Watch #JudoTbilisi2017 live and free at


-78kg: STEENHUIS validates number one status in the Netherlands

World Judo Masters bronze medallist Guusje STEENHUIS (NED) showed that she is the present and future for the Netherlands at -78kg as she tamed Rio 2016 pick Marhinde VERKERK (NED). Former world champion VERKERK, 31, who lost in her first contest at the Olympics in Brazil, was thrown with a osoto-makikomi for a waza-ari and was then held down for 20 seconds. The silver for VERKERK should be enough to earn future selections while STEENHUIS did exactly what she set out to achieve and is arguably her country’s top medal hope for the World Championships in Budapest. 

In the first semi-final STEENHUIS bested 23-year-old YOSHIMURA Shiori (JPN) on shidos in golden score. After a scoreless four minutes of regulation time and one shido going against the Japanese the contest continued into golden score until YOSHIMURA received a second shido which sent STEENHUIS into the final.  

In the second semi-final two-time Grand Slam winner JOO Abigel (HUN) fell to VERKERK by a waza-ari from a neat ashi-waza attack. JOO, who was penalised with a shido for a leg grab, committed too much and could not stop the all-Dutch final from being realised.

The first bronze medal was won by JOO who is well on her way to being a major contender at the World Championships in Budapest. JOO defeated Tashkent Grand Prix silver medallist Albina AMANGELDIYEVA (KAZ) by ippon from an ouchi-gari having led by a waza-ari as the Kazakh was outmatched.            

The second bronze medal contest was won by YOSHIMURA who marked her first IJF start since 2013 by defeating Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Samanta SOARES (BRA) by ippon after two minutes. 

VERKERK, Marhinde (NED) vs STEENHUIS, Guusje (NED)
Bronze Medal Fights
JOO, Abigel (HUN) vs AMANGELDIYEVA, Albina (KAZ)
YOSHIMURA, Shiori (JPN) vs SOARES, Samanta (BRA)

Silver medallist Marhinde VERKERK (NED) could not attend the ceremony due to injury 
Final Results 
1. STEENHUIS, Guusje (NED)
2. VERKERK, Marhinde (NED)
3. JOO, Abigel (HUN)
3. YOSHIMURA, Shiori (JPN)
5. SOARES, Samanta (BRA)
7. HASANLI, Gunel (AZE)
7. TSEND-AYUSH, Naranjargal (MGL)

+78kg: Savvy SAVELKOULS sees off SAYIT for Grand Slam success             

Former Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Tessie SAVELKOULS (NED) came to the fore in the women’s heavyweight category as she conquered the Baku Grand Slam. SAVELKOULS, who finished seventh at the Rio 2016 Olympics, defeated European champion Kayra SAYIT (TUR) in the +78kg final with a waza-ari from a drop seoi-nage giving the Dutchwoman control and the outsider held her rival in osaekomi until the Turkish judoka tapped out. 

In the first semi-final Düsseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist Larisa CERIC (BIH) was disqualified after receiving a third shido to send SAVELKOULS into the gold medal contest. In the second semi-final SAYIT downed u23 European Championships bronze medallist Yelyzaveta KALANINA (UKR) by a waza-ari after a plucky display from the young Ukrainian.

The first bronze medal was won by Tokyo 2020 hope KALANINA who beat Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Santa PAKENYTE (LTU). KALANINA is the Ukraine’s top project as the Federation have invested in the former basketball player and now that is starting to be repaid after attaining a first Grand Slam medal. PAKENYTE was thrown with an uchi-mata in golden score for a waza-ari as the tallest judoka in the category showed that she is more than a work in progress after a fifth-place finish at the Paris Grand Slam.

The second bronze medal was won by Svitlana IAROMKA (UKR) as Ukraine won both +78kg bronze medals. CERIC was penalised a third time for passivity which was one more shido than IAROMKA accrued as the latter ensured that two Ukrainian flags would be raised during the women’s heavyweight awarding ceremony.                              

SAYIT, Kayra (TUR) vs SAVELKOULS, Tessie (NED)

Bronze Medal Fights
KALANINA, Yelyzaveta (UKR) vs PAKENYTE, Santa (LTU)
CERIC, Larisa (BIH) vs IAROMKA, Svitlana (UKR)

Final Results
2. SAYIT, Kayra (TUR)
3. KALANINA, Yelyzaveta (UKR)
3. IAROMKA, Svitlana (UKR)
5. PAKENYTE, Santa (LTU)
5. CERIC, Larisa (BIH)
7. YAMAKAWA, Camila (BRA)


-90kg: Kazkah BOZBAYEV beats three Azeri on his way to first Grand Slam victory  

Former Asian Championships bronze medallist Islam BOZBAYEV (KAZ) won his first Grand Slam title at the expense of Almaty Grand Prix bronze medallist Mammadali MEHDIYEV (AZE). World number 93 faced his third Azerbaijan opponent of the day in the final and the result was the same on each occasion. With 43 seconds left the Kazakh judoka scored a waza-ari with a morote-seoi-nage and went back to the same technique 20 seconds later for a second waza-ari to finish as a comfortable winner.  


In the first semi-final MEHDIYEV beat colleague Abdulhagg RASULLU (AZE) by a waza-ari in a typically closely contested meeting between two teammates. In the second semi-final BOZBAYEV defeated Rome European Open silver medallist Tural SAFGULIYEV (AZE) with a morote-seoi-nage earning ippon after 68 seconds of golden score. BOZBAYEV scored first with a waza-ari before SAFGULIYEV drew level with a waza-ari from a sumi-gaeshi. The Kazakh seized the initiative in added time and won with his trademark technique to deny the home judoka.

The first bronze medal was awarded to Odivelas European Open silver medallist Quedjau NHABALI (UKR) who drove world number 189 RASULLU over for ippon with 15 seconds left on the clock with an osoto-gari. The opening contest of the final block produced a first career Grand Slam medal for the Ukrainian who is enjoying his best spell on the international circuit.

The second bronze medal went to two-time Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Ushangi MARGIANI (GEO) who defeated SAFGULIYEV to win his first international medal at -90kg having jumped up from -81kg a year ago. MARGIANI anticipated the ura-nage attempt which put the Azeri off balance and the Georgian used both hands to control the upper body of his rival and send him over for ippon.                 

BOZBAYEV, Islam (KAZ) vs MEHDIYEV, Mammadali (AZE)
Bronze Medal Fights
RASULLU, Abdulhagg (AZE) vs NHABALI, Quedjau (UKR)

Final Results
1. BOZBAYEV, Islam (KAZ)
2. MEHDIYEV, Mammadali (AZE)
3. NHABALI, Quedjau (UKR)
3. MARGIANI, Ushangi (GEO)
5. RASULLU, Abdulhagg (AZE)
7. VAN T END, Noel (NED)
7. KUUSIK, Mattias (EST)

-100kg: KORREL is king in Baku as Azeri GASIMOV falls flat            

Düsseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist Michael KORREL (NED) is on a roll in 2017 having matured into being a consistent international performer for the Netherlands. KORREL, 23, controlled the contest against Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Elmar GASIMOV (AZE) but golden score was still required to separate the two. GASIMOV could barely stand up and KORREL was sucking on air as the former was penalised for passivity after four minutes of added time. 

In the first semi-final GASIMOV bested former world champion Elkhan MAMMADOV (AZE) in an all-Azeri clash. While the crowd and the judoka would have rathered that the teammates had met in the final they had to go head-to-head to decide who would represent Azerbaijan in the final. With four seconds left and no scores registered the veteran MAMMADOV was reprimanded for the third and final time to lose out and move into the bronze medal contest. 
In the second semi-final KORREL saw off Baku Grand Slam 2016 silver medallist CIRJENICS Miklos (HUN) by a waza-ari to seal a place in the final.

The first bronze medal was won by CIRJENICS who prevailed against Rome European bronze medallist Peter PALTCHIK (ISR) by ippon at the halfway point.           

The second bronze medal was won by 35-year-old MAMMADOV against Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix winner Zelym KOTSOIEV (AZE). The 18-year-old was given a third shido to hand the win to his countryman.                        

KORREL, Michael (NED) vs GASIMOV, Elmar (AZE)
Bronze Medal Fights

Final Result
1. KORREL, Michael (NED)
2. GASIMOV, Elmar (AZE)
3. CIRJENICS, Miklos (HUN)
3. MAMMADOV, Elkhan (AZE)
5. PALTCHIK, Peter (ISR)
5. KOTSOIEV, Zelym (AZE)
7. MINASKIN, Grigori (EST)

+100kg: TUSHISHVILI topples heavyweight powerhouses to triumph with ippon judo         

Junior European champion Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) made light work of a high calibre heavyweight field as he collected his first IJF World Judo Tour medal in sensational fashion. The 22-year-old, who weighed in at 107kg, opposed Düsseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist BOR Barna (HUN) in the final and made it four wins by ippon from four contests. The Georgian, who defeated the top seed and double Olympic bronze medallist Rafael SILVA (BRA) in the quarter-final by ippon, has moved up to heavyweight as Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) has vacated the -90kg category to compete at -100kg. Fearless TUSHISHVILI scored a waza-ari from a drop seoi-nage and then dispatched the Hungarian with an osoto-gari for the maximum score. 

In the first semi-final former TUSHISHVILI bested Ushangi KOKAURI (AZE) after 66 seconds by ippon from a drop seoi-nage. In the second semi-final BOR troubled Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Stanislav BONDARENKO (UKR) to such an extent that the Ukrainian was penalised three times to receive hansoku-make,

The first bronze medal was won by BONDARENKO as former Junior World champion ULZIIBAYAR Duurenbayar (MGL) was inactive for the majority of the contest and received three shidos to be disqualified. Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist ULZIIBAYAR, 23, toiled as he struggles to maintain his consistency on the IJF World Judo Tour while BONDARENKO was marginally more active.

The second bronze medal went to Odivelas European Open silver medallist Onise BUGHADZE (GEO) who pipped KOKAURI to the podium by a waza-ari score. 
BOR, Barna (HUN) vs TUSHISHVILI, Guram (GEO)
Bronze Medal Fights
BONDARENKO, Stanislav (UKR) vs ULZIIBAYAR, Duurenbayar (MGL)
KOKAURI, Ushangi (AZE) vs BUGHADZE, Onise (GEO)

Final Result
2. BOR, Barna (HUN)
3. BONDARENKO, Stanislav (UKR)
3. BUGHADZE, Onise (GEO)
5. ULZIIBAYAR, Duurenbayar (MGL)
5.  KOKAURI, Ushangi (AZE)
7. SILVA, Rafael (BRA)
7. MEYER, Roy (NED)

Baku Grand Slam 2017 - Azerbaijan DAY TWO



The Heydar Aliyev Baku Grand Slam 2017 delivered a compelling spectacle of scintillating judo at Heydar Aliyev Arena on Saturday as Olympic medallists and rising names squared off and four different flags were raised to the rafters.  

On day two gold medallists were crowned in the women’s -63kg and -70kg categories and the men’s -73kg and -81kg categories.

The land of fire is preparing to host the World Judo Championships in 2018 and the IJF and Azerbaijan Judo Federation are already at an advanced stage in their planning for the annual blue ribbon event of the IJF World Judo Tour.

Dr. Lisa ALLAN, IJF Competition Manager, said: “We are very much looking forward to the World Championships 2018 in Baku. This is the fifth edition of the Baku Grand Slam and the Azerbaijan Judo Federation now has a great deal of experience, high-quality technical officials and very capable volunteers as everyone is familiar with their roles and IJF competitions.

“There is a tremendous amount of history of judo here in Azerbaijan and that is shown by how the Federation approaches each competition and their meticulous organisation. Everyone is very enthusiastic and we are positive that the Worlds 2018 will be a great success.”

Click here to watch #JudoForTheWorld Peru

Triple world champion and double Olympic medallist Yuri ALVEAR (COL) was one of the most illustrious names in action on Saturday in Baku. The all-time great was recently part of a special two-week IJF visit to Peru for a series of development activities which was the subject of the latest #JudoForTheWorld feature film. 

ALVEAR, 30, won her first Grand Slam gold medal on Saturday with three ippons from three contests and now only Masters and Grand Prix titles are missing from her plentiful IJF World Judo Tour collection.

Judo is #MoreThanASport - MOLLAEI (IRI) holds up the hand of -81kg winner ISMAYILOV (AZE) 

The Baku Grand Slam will come to a powerful finale on Sunday with Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Elmar Gasimov among the stars on show and he will be hoping to keep the -100kg gold medal in Azerbaijan.

Medal table after DAY 2


Use #JudoBaku2017 to join in with the social media discussion 


-63kg:  SCHLESINGER retains her Baku title on first start of 2017  

World number 12 Alice SCHLESINGER (GBR) defended her 2016 Baku title with a mature performance against Tunis African Open silver medallist Andreja LESKI (SLO). The modest Briton, who was making her post-Olympic return to competition, saw off world number 63 LESKI on the ground as SCHLESINGER trapped the body of her opponent and from there worked the arm-lock until the 20-year-old Slovenian had to submit.

In the first semi-final former Qingdao Grand Prix silver medallist Busra KATIPOGLU (TUR) lost out to LESKI by a waza-ari after one minute of golden score. In the second semi-final SCHLESINGER defeated home judoka Khanim HUSEYNOVA (AZE) by ippon as the former pinned down the Azeri with a kami-shiho-gatame for 20 seconds.

The first bronze medal was won by KATIPOGLU who defeated 24-year-old Nuriyya AKHUNDOVA (AZE) by ippon with a wonderful hip technique to ensure a successful return to action. The Turkish judoka was competing for the first time since the Rio 2016 Olympics while AKHUNDOVA was engaged in a medal contest on the IJF World Judo Tour for the first time.
The second bronze medal was won by HUSEYNOVA as her teammate and 2012 Baku Grand Prix winner Gulsadaf KARIMOVA (AZE) was disqualified after being penalised on three occasions. The third shido came for passivity with nine seconds left as KARIMOVA will have to wait to record her first Grand Slam medal but the crowd were the most content as they applauded the efforts of their female judoka.                                     
SCHLESINGER, Alice (GBR) vs LESKI, Andreja (SLO)
Bronze Medal Fights     
HUSEYNOVA, Khanim (AZE) vs KARIMOVA, Gulsadaf (AZE)

Final Results
2. LESKI, Andreja (SLO)
3. HUSEYNOVA, Khanim (AZE)
5. AKHUNDOVA, Nuriyya (AZE)
5.  KARIMOVA, Gulsadaf (AZE)
7. HAJIYEVA, Nargiz (AZE)

-70kg: Colombia’s ALVEAR adds to her legacy with new title in Azerbaijan

Triple world champion and double Olympic medallist Yuri ALVEAR (COL) topped the podium in Baku as she started her year with a new accolade. Colombia’s greatest athlete made it five wins from five contests against 20-year-old Paris Grand Slam medallist Elvismar RODRIGUEZ (IJF) who was quickly defeated in the final. ALVEAR, who lost out to TACHIMOTO Haruka (JPN) in the Olympic final, threw RODRIGUEZ after 23 seconds with a ko-soto-gake for the maximum score.


The newly-crowned Grand Slam winner, who will head to Tokyo next week for a training camp, said: “I’m very happy to finally win a Grand Slam having won three World Championships. I have wanted this medal for a while and I am very pleased to start my year like this.

“I will now train in Japan and then return for the Pan American Championships and future challenges as I hope to win many more medals including a Grand Prix and a World Judo Masters which I am yet to achieve.”

In the first semi-final ALVEAR trapped u23 European Championships bronze medallist Aleksandra SAMARDZIC (BIH) on the ground for ippon having prodded with a ouchi-gari and was in control at all times.

In the second semi-final RODRIGUEZ dominated Zagreb Grand Prix winner Barbara MATIC (CRO) with a powerful display. The starlet took the lead with a waza-ari and added a second from a picturesque sasae-tsurikomi-ashi before holding down MATIC with a mune-gatame for 20 seconds.  

The first bronze medal was claimed by MATIC who rushed to victory after 60 seconds by ippon against 22-year-old Grand Slam newcomer Zere BEKTASKYZY (KAZ).  

The second bronze medal was captured by 19-year-old SAMARDZIC who denied Valida MIRZAZADA (AZE) in the first ever IJF medal contest for the Azeri. SAMARDZIC won her second Grand Slam bronze medal by ippon having led by two waza-ari.            
RODRIGUEZ, Elvismar (IJF) vs ALVEAR, Yuri (COL)

Bronze Medal Fights
BEKTASKYZY, Zere (KAZ) vs MATIC, Barbara (CRO)
SAMARDZIC, Aleksandra (BIH) vs MIRZAZADA, Valida (AZE)

Final Results
1. ALVEAR, Yuri (COL)
2. RODRIGUEZ, Elvismar (IJF)
3. MATIC, Barbara (CRO)
3. SAMARDZIC, Aleksandra (BIH)
5. MIRZAZADA, Valida (AZE)


-73kg: Glory for GANBAATAR as Mongolia mounts fightback on day two              

World Judo Masters silver medallist GANBAATAR Odbayar (MGL) captured Grand Slam gold for the first time as he bested double world champion and London 2012 Olympic silver medallist NAKAYA Riki (JPN). NAKAYA, who at 27 has a world of experience and is one of the most decorated judoka in the competition, has fallen behind Olympic champion ONO Shohei (JPN) and World Judo Masters and Paris Grand Slam winner HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) in the pecking order and thus starts have been infrequent on the IJF World Judo Tour.


World number nine GANBAATAR finally converted his opportunities into IJF gold on the elite stage as he countered a reverse seoi-nage with te-waza for a waza-ari and that provided enough for gold as NAKAYA could not find a way onto the scoreboard before the four minutes elapsed. While the future of NAKAYA is now questioned GANBAATAR could become a mainstay on IJF World Judo Tour podiums.

In the first semi-final NAKAYA faced UNGVARI Miklos (HUN) in a battle between London 2012 Olympic silver medallists. Evergreen UNGVARI, 36, who won his Olympic medal at -66kg, was thrown with a tomoe-nage after 90 seconds of golden score for a waza-ari and NAKAYA progressed into the final.

In the second semi-final SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) committed a costly mistake against GANBAATAR as he received three shidos to be disqualified. The Georgian started slowly and never recovered as he was penalised for passivity for this third shido and was relegated to the bronze medal contest as his Mongolian adversary marched on into the final.

The first bronze medal contest saw Rustam ORUJOV (AZE) survive a high-pressure situation against SHAVDATUASHVILI. Number one seed ORUJOV should be accustomed to it but he also had a first-class opponent in front of him and the prospect of his teammate also medalling at -73kg on his mind. The weight of expectancy was visible on his face in the warm-up area before he composed himself for the final block. After a fascinating four minutes, chants of ‘Rustam, Rustam’ rang out in the crowd and their man got there in the end after two minutes of golden score by turning his Georgian rival for a match-winning waza-ari. ORUJOV raised his hand aloft to acknowledge the crowd’s support and tapped the Azerbaijan flag on his judogi to show his pride.   

The second bronze medal went to UNGVARI after a thrilling contest against Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE). There was a 17-year age gap between the two as the 36-year-old Hungarian challenged the 19-year-old Azeri at home and tested the mettle of the teenager. HEYDAROV gave everything and looked on course for victory as he led with a waza-ari but UNGVARI is a wily veteran and with 21 seconds left he turned over the youngster and tapped him out in a showing of craft and determination. UNGVARI became the third oldest Grand Slam medallist of all time behind YAMAMOTO Sayuri (39) and Valentin GREKOV (37) and there is still much to come from the Hungarian stalwart who is working towards the World Championships in Budapest.  
GANBAATAR, Odbayar (MGL) vs NAKAYA, Riki (JPN)

Bronze Medal Fights
UNGVARI, Miklos (HUN) vs HEYDAROV, Hidayat (AZE)

Final Results
1. GANBAATAR, Odbayar (MGL)
2. NAKAYA, Riki (JPN)
3. ORUJOV, Rustam (AZE)
3. UNGVARI, Miklos (HUN)
5. HEYDAROV, Hidayat (AZE)
7. KANIVETS, Dmytro (UKR)
7. VALIYEV, Telman (AZE)

-81kg:  Azerbaijan unearths new starlet as youngster ISMAYILOV wins home gold 

Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Rufat ISMAYILOV (AZE) was the cream of the crop for the hosts as he achieved what household names ORUJOV, SAFAROV, and HEYDAROV tried so desperately but ultimately failed to accomplish in winning a home gold medal. The 20-year-old Azerbaijan judoka scored a waza-ari right away with a drop seoi-nage and maintained his advantage for the remainder of the contest to record a superb Grand Slam win against Asian Championships bronze medallist Saeid MOLLAEI (IRI).


In the first semi-final ISMAYILOV shocked KOHARA Kenya (JPN) with a pure te-waza movement for ippon after just 32 seconds which sent the crowd into euphoria. The Azeri talent roared with pleasure as his compatriots celebrated the upset. ISMAYILOV had guaranteed his first IJF World Judo Tour medal and the crowd could tell that he was on the verge of something very special in his homeland.

In the second semi-final MOLLAEI defeat Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist OTGONBAATAR Uuganbaatar (MGL) by ippon having also scored two waza-ari as he surged into the final.

The first bronze medal contest saw OTGONBAATAR dismiss Düsseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist Ivaylo IVANOV (BUL) as Mongolia’s medal rush continued. The 29-year-old ensured a medal-winning resumption of IJF duty as he countered an o-uchi-gari with an opportunistic ko-soto-gari for a waza-ari score with 15 seconds left on the clock.              

The second bronze medal went to KOHARA who threw Düsseldorf Grand Prix silver medallist UNGVARI Attila (HUN) with a well-timed de-ashi-barai for ippon with 90 seconds left to record his first IJF silverware.   

Bronze Medal Fights
OTGONBAATAR, Uuganbaatar (MGL) vs IVANOV, Ivaylo (BUL)
KOHARA, Kenya (JPN) vs UNGVARI, Attila (HUN)

Final Result
2. MOLLAEI, Saeid (IRI)
3. OTGONBAATAR, Uuganbaatar (MGL)
3. KOHARA, Kenya (JPN)
5. IVANOV, Ivaylo (BUL)
5. UNGVARI, Attila (HUN)
7. DE WIT, Frank (NED)

13:00 Preliminaries on three mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

Women: -78kg, +78kg
Men: -90kg, -100kg, +100kg

Location: Heydar Aliyev Arena