Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Birthday to the original Judo Insider

Judo is a popular sport. According to the IJF (in 2014), some 28 million people practice judo around the world. And it's been an Olympic sport since 1964, which means it can be considered a pretty mainstream sport. Yet, judo in many respects is still a relatively niche sport. You don't see a lot of it on TV and it doesn't get much media coverage in newspapers or magazines.

The IJF has partially filled that gap by creating websites like JudoBase which offers official rankings, results and crucially: videos! But it's privately-run websites like JudoInside that really helps to satiate judo fans' appetite for judo information that the mass media does not offer.

If you consider yourself a judo crazy person, you must be familiar with JudoInside. It's the default place to go for statistics on judo players -- famous as well as obscure -- and it helpfully provides links to videos of those players in competition. If you want to check out pictures of players, it has galleries for that. But one of the most useful and unique features of JudoInside is its "head-to-head" function which allows you to see who has fought who in the international competition circuit. It's by no means complete because some smaller or regional competitions are sometimes missing but it's about as complete as you're going to find anywhere.

The original judo insider, Mr Hans van Essen!
I got to know JudoInside's founder, Hans van Essen, several years ago when he was still in charge of media at the EJU. Our very first interaction was online when I sent in a query about a result that I believed was incorrect. Turns out I was right. He asked if I had more results from Southeast Asia to share. Unfortunately, I didn't but we kept in touch.

Hans and I have a common friend in famed judo photographer David Finch and all three of us met up at the sidelines of one of the World Championships a few years back.

We didn't have much time together. David and I were there to cover the event for the IJF and Hans was there on behalf of the EJU where he attended some meetings. He was leaving the place just as we had arrived. But we hit it off straight away and thanks to the miracle that is the Internet, we started exchanging a lot of information with each other.

These days, hardly a day goes by without a Facebook message exchange with each other. Sometimes it's to ask each other questions for judo material we are working on. Other times it to share judo gossip. And quite often, it's just to say "hi" and share judo news.

I have a lot of judo friends around the world but it's Hans whom I can really "talk judo" with endlessly. That's because despite our very different backgrounds, we have a lot in common in judo. In a way, we're both judo insiders and without any doubt, we are both absolutely, undeniably judo crazy!

Judo is a relative niche sport and it's people like Hans, who through their labor of love, help to provide judo fans around the world with content that they so eagerly desire. His tireless devotion to updating his website both inspires and motivates me to update my Facebook Page and this blog regularly.

We did our first collaboration "JudoCrazy E-Mag" last December and we're working hard, together with a few other JudoCrazy friends, to publish the follow-up, hopefully by June.

Today is Hans's birthday. Many happy returns, Mr Judo Insider!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

IJF travel insurance for judokas

The International Judo Federation has announced a new worldwide travel insurance programme available to IJF World Judo Tour competitors, their families and friends, member federations and continental unions, coaches, judo officials and fans.

The IJF’s comprehensive 24/7 insurance offers travel and medical insurance benefits at competitive rates for trips all over the globe. Such benefits might not be easily sourced by the travelling party in their homeland.
From emergency medical expenses, to lost baggage and trip cancellation cover, the IJF Travel Insurance Program will be invaluable when travelling to hundreds of locations, whether it’s for an international competition or a holiday.

Find out more at

Ekaterinburg Grand Slam 2017 - Russia DAY TWO


The Ekaterinburg Grand Slam 2017 cast forward leading candidates for the World Championships as the heavyweights contested the seven remaining categories on the final day of competition in Russia.

Russia’s leg of the IJF World Judo Tour was staged in Ekaterinburg for the first time and the world-class roster of nations and judoka illustrated that regardless of the city the competition has the respect of judo’s premier athletes and is a key stop on the road to the Worlds.

Day two featured the women’s -70kg, -78kg and +78g categories and men’s -81kg, -90kg, -100kg and +100kg categories at the Palace of Sports.   

HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) – The Ippon Hunter

HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) is nobody’s understudy. The -73kg judoka now leads the world in the rankings having won gold on Saturday in Ekaterinburg.

However, HASHIMOTO, 25, who is undefeated on the IJF circuit since 2015, is the number two domestically with Olympic champion and double world champion ONO Shohei (JPN) for company at this weight.

The World Judo Masters winner has more than filled the void left by ONO who is taking some time out from international competition and will miss the World Championships to focus on completing his studies at Tenri University.

The charismatic star has excelled over the last 12 months as he has earned comparisons to Japan’s all-time great and 1992 Olympic champion KOGA Toshihiko (JPN) and this year the responsibility lies with the Worlds debutant to keep the -73kg title in Japan.

Judo’s founding nation has proved to be unbeatable at this weight with AKIMOTO Hiroyuki winning in 2010, NAKAYA Riki triumphing in 2011 and 2014 and ONO Shohei capturing the World crown in 2013 and 2015.

“I am very happy with this gold medal,” said HASHIMOTO who pushed for ippon in the final (against Marcelo CONTINI) despite being in control with an advantage of two waza-ari scores without reply.

Relentless in his pursuit of the maximum score and his favoured sode-tsurikomi-goshi, which he calls the HASHIMOTO special, the Japanese explained his philosophy.

“The reason is very simple, I always want to get ippon, when I had first waza-ari, I thought about defensive judo, but I really wanted ippon.

“Sode-tsurikomi-goshi is one of my main techniques, it is my favourite, but I can achieve this in many different ways and until the World Championships I will work on this even more.”

When asked about being his country’s only judoka at -73kg at the Worlds – and the absence of ONO Shohei – HASHIMOTO was positive and is relishing the opportunity to take his majestic talent to the World Championships stage.

“ONO is a very good rival for me, but he is nothing to do with me this year, as my main target is to become world champion.

“My target is Worlds gold and I want to win every contest by ippon in Budapest.”

As the IJF wraps up the elite side of proceedings in Ekaterinburg, a separate IJF delegation has arrived in Dagestan to film the latest #JudoForTheWorld video.

Click here to watch the #JudoForTheWorld series 

London 2012 Olympic champions Arsen GALSTYAN, Mansur ISAEV and Tagir KHAIBULAEV will lead training sessions with budding judoka and explain the role judo has played in their lives and making them the champions that they are today.

Stay tuned to the IJF’s social media channels for updates from the Dagestan filming.

The IJF World Judo Tour now heads for Mexico for the first Cancun Grand Prix from 16 – 18 June. The IJF visited Mexico for the first time last year to stage the World Judo Masters in Guadalajara and the best judoka in the world are set for the penultimate Grand Prix ahead of August’s World Championships.

Click here to watch the #JudoCancun2017 trailer

Entries are flying in for the IJF’s trip to Pan America which will also see three-time Olympian and double continental champion Vanessa ZAMBOTTI (MEX) officially retire in her homeland.

Watch #JudoCancun2017 live and free at


Use #JudoRussia2017 to join in with the post-event social media discussion 


-70kg: Valiant VAN DIJKE fights back to triumph on the road to Budapest      

European champion Sanne VAN DIJKE (NED) won Grand Slam gold with a come-from-behind win in the final over former Casablanca African Open bronze medallist Alena PROKOPENKO (RUS). The Russian took an unexpected lead with a waza-ari from a sumi-gaeshi as the vastly-improved Russian tested the mettle of her Dutch opponent. Tokyo 2020 prospect VAN DIJKE is currently concentrating on Budapest 2017 and fought back from a waza-ari deficit to tie the contest with nine seconds remaining and moved into osaekomi for the win as the lack of contest management of the home judoka was exposed in the closing seconds. 


In the first semi-final PROKOPENKO beat Tokyo Grand Slam winner NIIZOE Saki (JPN) by ippon with nine seconds left on the clock while in the second semi-final VAN DIJKE beat two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist Aleksandra SAMARDZIC (BIH) by ippon.


The first bronze medal was won by former Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Anna BERNHOLM (SWE) who submitted beaten semi-finalist SAMARDZIC with a juji-gatame. The Swede had lost at this stage at a Grand Slam on five occasions but looks stronger at -70kg and will be a judoka to watch in this category on the road to Tokyo 2020.          

The second bronze medal contest was won by NIIZOE who had the beating of world silver medallist Maria BERNABEU (ESP). Former Baku Grand Slam winner BERNABEU lost by the smallest of margins as NIIZOE prevailed by a waza-ari to win her first Grand Slam medal outside of Japan.                


PROKOPENKO, Alena (RUS) vs VAN DIJKE, Sanne (NED)                           
Bronze Medal Fights
SAMARDZIC, Aleksandra (BIH) vs BERNHOLM, Anna (SWE)                      
NIIZOE, Saki (JPN) vs BERNABEU, Maria (ESP)                               

Final Results
1. VAN DIJKE, Sanne (NED)                                                                             
2. PROKOPENKO, Alena (RUS)                                                      
3. BERNHOLM, Anna (SWE)                                                           
3. NIIZOE, Saki (JPN)   
5. SAMARDZIC, Aleksandra (BIH)
5. BERNABEU, Maria (ESP)                                                                     
7. PEREZ, Maria (PUR)
7. PORTELA, Maria (BRA)          

-78kg: World champ UMEKI earns first Grand Slam crown as title defence loomsWorld champion UMEKI Mami (JPN) won her first Grand Slam title and in process recorded back-to-back wins on the IJF World Judo Tour. UMEKI, 22, who was worn her red backpatch since 2015 – as there are no World Championships in an Olympic year – won the Dusseldorf Grand Prix last time out and won all four of her contests in Ekaterinburg by ippon including the final against double European bronze medallist Natalie POWELL (GBR). World number five, POWELL, fighting in her first Grand Slam final, matched her Japanese opponent for much of the contest but when the action moved to the ground it was UMEKI who was sharper and applied a ude-garami and the Welsh judoka was forced to submit.  


In the first semi-final European Championships bronze medallist JOO Abigel (HUN) lost out to UMEKI who forced the Hungarian to submit while also holding her down.  

In the second semi-final POWELL left her leg in just long enough to turn Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist Anna Maria WAGNER (GER) on the edge of the mat and drive over the youngster for ippon.

The first bronze medal was spectacularly claimed by WAGNER who launched Sofia European Open bronze medallist Antonina SHMELEVA (RUS) with a sumptuous hane-goshi for ippon with a minute remaining. The second bronze medal contest saw JOO continue to build momentum towards Budapest 2017 as she defeated Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Karen STEVENSON (NED) by the maximum score after 90 seconds.                          
POWELL, Natalie (GBR) vs UMEKI, Mami (JPN)                                   

Bronze Medal Fights
WAGNER, Anna Maria (GER) vs SHMELEVA, Antonina (RUS)                               
JOO, Abigel (HUN) vs STEVENSON, Karen (NED)                            

Final Results
1. UMEKI, Mami (JPN)                                  
2. POWELL, Natalie (GBR)                                                          
3. WAGNER, Anna Maria (GER)
3. JOO, Abigel (HUN)                              
5. SHMELEVA, Antonina (RUS)                                                               
5. STEVENSON, Karen (NED)                                                       
7. MALONGA, Madeleine (FRA)
7. DMITRIEVA, Anastasiya (RUS)                              

+78kg: ASAHINA earns second Grand Slam win on the road in 2017Paris Grand Slam winner ASAHINA Sarah (JPN) continued her undefeated streak with a comfortable win in Russia. Tokai University member ASAHINA, 20, has now won Grand Slams in Tokyo, Paris and Ekaterinburg in succession and won the All Japan Openweight Championships in April. The Japanese starlet defeated European Games silver medallist Jasmin KUELBS (GER) for her latest success with a waza-ari from an uchi-mata proving the difference after four minutes. 

In the first semi-final European Championships bronze medallist Larisa CERIC (BIH) was thwarted by ASAHINA who threw with a harai-goshi for ippon. 

In the second semi-final KUELBS showed off her ashi-waza to throw European Championships bronze medallist Carolin WEISS (GER) for the maximum score.

The first bronze medal was claimed by WEISS who bested double world silver medallist Maria Suelen ALTHEMAN (BRA) by a waza-ari score which from a ura-nage after 20 seconds of golden score. The second bronze medal contest was won by European Championships winner Maryna SLUTSKAYA (BLR) as CERIC accumulated three shido penalties to receive hansoku-make. 
KUELBS, Jasmin (GER) vs ASAHINA, Sarah (JPN)        . 

Bronze Medal Fights
WEISS, Carolin (GER) vs ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA)                            
CERIC, Larisa (BIH) vs SLUTSKAYA, Maryna (BLR)   

Final Results
1. ASAHINA, Sarah (JPN)                                              
2. KUELBS, Jasmin (GER)                                 
3. WEISS, Carolin (GER)                                  
3. SLUTSKAYA, Maryna (BLR)                                                         
5. ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA)                                                                                        
5. CERIC, Larisa (BIH)
7. CHIBISOVA, Ksenia (RUS)
7. SAVELKOULS, Tessie (NED)   


-81kg: The gold backpatch fits as KHALMURZAEV wins at home   

Rio 2016 Olympic champion Khasan KHALMURZAEV (RUS) thrilled the partisan crowd as he beat two-time Grand Slam runner-up UNGVARI Attila (HUN) in the -81kg final. The 23-year-old crowd pleaser punched the air after throwing UNGVARI with a uchi-mata for ippon after just 58 seconds. KHALMURZAEV celebrated his second Grand Slam gold after a win in Baku in 2015 but this victory was extra sweet as it was his first IJF competition since he won the Olympics and it came in front of his family, friends and fans. KHALMURZAEV is now the front-runner to top the -81kg podium at the World Championships and the gold backpatch will be a target on his back for all entrants in Budapest.

In the first semi-final Paris Grand Slam winner Frank DE WIT (NED) was outlasted by KHALMURZAEV who threw the young Dutchman with an uchi-mata for a waza-ari score after 12 seconds of golden score. 


In the second semi-final UNGVARI defeated Antalya Grand Prix bronze medallist Murat KHABACHIROV (RUS) as the latter ran out of steam in golden score. UNGVARI, the younger brother of Hungarian legend UNGVARI Miklos, rolled over the Russian after 68 seconds of golden score for a match-winning waza-ari.

The first bronze medal was clinched Pan American Championships bronze medallist Etienne BRIAND (CAN) who narrowly defeated KHABACHIROV with a waza-ari score after four minutes from a morote-seoi-nage to open his Grand Slam medal account.   

Paris Grand Slam silver medallist Zebeda REKHVIASHVILI (GEO) won the second bronze medal after a surprisingly one-sided clash against top seed DE WIT. REKHVIASHVILI has the tall order of filling the gap left by former world champion Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO) who has moved up to -90kg but is making great strides as he showed here with three waza-ari scores giving him the platform to go on and win by ippon. 
UNGVARI, Attila (HUN) vs KHALMURZAEV, Khasan (RUS)    

Bronze Medal Fights
KHABACHIROV, Murat (RUS) vs BRIAND, Etienne (CAN) 
DE WIT, Frank (NED) vs REKHVIASHVILI, Zebeda (GEO)                  


Final Results
1. KHALMURZAEV, Khasan (RUS)                                     
2. UNGVARI, Attila (HUN)  
3. BRIAND, Etienne (CAN)                                   
3. REKHVIASHVILI, Zebeda (GEO)                                       
5. KHABACHIROV, Murat (RUS)                                    
5. DE WIT, Frank (NED)                     
7. CHAPARYAN, Andranik (ARM)   
7. PENALBER, Victor (BRA)                         

-90kg: NAGASAWA goes unbeaten for Japan as TOTH takes silver on return  

Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medallist NAGASAWA Kenta (JPN) stepped up to the Grand Slam level with the best performance of his young career as he beat the returning former world silver medallist TOTH Krisztian (HUN) in golden score. TOTH, who was making his comeback having undergone shoulder surgery and recently returned to full health, is never involved in flat contests. The Hungarian has a tendency to be locked in the most engaging and dramatic of battles but could not generate his usual power and the contest was scoreless after four minutes. NAGASAWA found an extra gear in added time and, as Japan team manager INOUE Kosei looked on matside, was able to trap TOTH on the ground and the latter decided to tap out to save himself for another day as he aims for World Championships at home in August. 

In the first semi-final Casablanca African Open winner Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP) lost out to the returning TOTH by a waza-ari score. In the second semi-final four-time Grand Slam runner-up Noel VAN T END (NED) suffered defeat at the hands of NAGASAWA via a harai-goshi at the halfway mark. 

The first bronze medal was won by VAN T END who made a strong finish as he beat double Grand Slam silver medallist Ushangi MARGIANI (GEO) in golden score by a waza-ari score for his fifth medal at this level. The second bronze medal went to Magomed MAGOMEDOV (RUS) who held down SHERAZADISHVILI for 20 seconds for ippon having sent the Spaniard to the ground with a thunderous osoto-gari which warranted a waza-ari score.                                                         

NAGASAWA, Kenta (JPN) vs TOTH, Krisztian (HUN)           

Bronze Medal Fights
VAN T END, Noel (NED) vs MARGIANI, Ushangi (GEO)                     
SHERAZADISHVILI, Nikoloz (ESP) vs MAGOMEDOV, Magomed (RUS)                              

Final Result
1. NAGASAWA, Kenta (JPN)
2. TOTH, Krisztian (HUN)                                           
3. VAN T END, Noel (NED)  
3. MAGOMEDOV, Magomed (RUS)                                                                                        
5. MARGIANI, Ushangi (GEO)                           
7. BETTONI, Eduardo (BRA)              
7. BENAMADI, Abderrahmane (ALG)                               

-100kg: Outsider CIRJENICS surges up the rankings after Grand Slam glory

Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist CIRJENICS Miklos (HUN) won -100kg gold as Hungary’s top performer in the final Grand Slam before his country hosts the World Championships in August. World number 22 CIRJENICS won all four of his contests by ippon with the finest display of his career. Antalya Grand Prix bronze medallist Niyaz ILYASOV (RUS) was countered for a waza-ari score before the flowing Hungarian added two further waza-ari scores. CIRJENICS had the Russian locked in a tate-shiho-gatame hold and then adjusted to a juji-gatame to win by submission. 

In the first semi-final two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist Jevgenijs BORODAVKO (LAT) tapped out to CIRJENICS in the last 30 seconds. 


In the second semi-final ILYASOV caught Olympic silver medallist Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) with an ouchi-gari after an initial uchi-mata attempt and the Georgian failed to counter as he fell down into the bronze medal contest.

The first bronze medal was indeed won by LIPARTELIANI against -100kg newcomer Alexandre IDDIR (FRA). The Frenchman moved up in February and came up against one of his old -90kg rivals and the pair could not be separated in four minutes of regulation time. An additional 20 seconds provided a winner as IDDIR was penalised with a shido for a false attack.

The second bronze medal went to Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Laurin BOEHLER (AUT) who secured his first Grand Slam medal in explosive fashion. The Austrian lifted up BORODAVKO with a gigantic ura-nage for ippon as the crowd roared with approval.  


ILYASOV, Niyaz (RUS) vs CIRJENICS, Miklos (HUN) 

Bronze Medal Fights
LIPARTELIANI, Varlam (GEO) vs IDDIR, Alexandre (FRA)
BORODAVKO, Jevgenijs (LAT) vs BOEHLER, Laurin (AUT)                          

Final Result
1. CIRJENICS, Miklos (HUN)
2. ILYASOV, Niyaz (RUS)                        
3. LIPARTELIANI, Varlam (GEO)                           
3. BOEHLER, Laurin (AUT)                                                        
5. IDDIR, Alexandre (FRA)                       
5. BORODAVKO, Jevgenijs (LAT)                                
7. FARA, Aaron (AUT)             
7. CORREA, Luciano (BRA)                          

+100kg:  Mobile MOURA eyes Worlds challenge after maiden Grand Slam success 

The eighth Grand Slam medal for Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist David MOURA (BRA) was finally of the golden variety as he conquered former Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist Levani MATIASHVILI (GEO) in an entertaining men’s heavyweight final. MOURA and MATIASHVILI were fighting to break into the elite ranks alongside Olympic and world medallists but both have their hands full on to earn international selections with depth at the domestic heavyweight levels in Brazil and Georgia. The heavyweights shook each other with osoto-gari attacks but for no score and were eventually separated in golden score when the Georgian received a second shido to finish second and put MOURA onto the top of the podium. 

In the first semi-final MOURA defeated Mongolia’s Rio 2016 Olympic flagbearer BATTULGA Temuulen (MGL) by ippon with a left-sided uchi-mata. In the second semi-final European u23 Championships bronze medallist Uladzislau TSIARPITSKI (BLR) lost out to MATIASHVILI by a waza-ari. 

The first bronze medal was won by 2016 Tyumen Grand Slam winner Andrey VOLKOV (RUS) who delivered a buzzer-beating waza-ari which was awarded in time and spared both men from golden score. The second and last bronze medal contest saw BATTULGA work his way past Baku Grand Slam silver medallist BOR Barna (HUN) by a waza-ari score to delight the huge group of travelling Mongolian fans in the upper tier at the Palace of Sports.            
MATIASHVILI, Levani (GEO) vs MOURA, David (BRA)       

Bronze Medal Fights
TSIARPITSKI, Uladzislau (BLR) vs VOLKOV, Andrey (RUS)                      
BATTULGA, Temuulen (MGL) vs BOR, Barna (HUN)                                

Final Result
1. MOURA, David (BRA)                                                       
2. MATIASHVILI, Levani (GEO)                                 
3. VOLKOV, Andrey (RUS)                                                                
3. BATTULGA, Temuulen (MGL)  
5. TSIARPITSKI, Uladzislau (BLR)                          
5. BOR, Barna (HUN)                                
7. NATEA, Daniel (ROU)               
7. SILVA, Rafael (BRA)                             

Ekaterinburg Grand Slam 2017 - Russia DAY ONE

The opening day of the third Grand Slam of the year marked an important milestone on Saturday as the countdown reached 100 days until August’s all-star World Championships extravaganza in Budapest.

Ekaterinburg, Russia, is the host city this weekend as the sport welcomes a new destination on the IJF World Judo Tour. As the fourth largest city in Russia, Ekaterinburg, is a natural choice as the setting for the Russian leg of the tour and the final Grand Slam before the Worlds.

The Palace of Sports is hosting Olympic champions and world medallists among the star-laden entry as 286 judoka and 36 nations are on the tatami this weekend.

Seven weight categories are engaged on each day in the Urals and Saturday saw the women’s -48kg, -52kg, -57kg and -63kg judoka and the men’s -60kg, -66kg and -73kg judoka compete.

Ezio Gamba – The modest mastermind steering Russia’s success

Ezio Gamba talks to the media with Mr. Valentin KHABIROV, RJF Vice President and Executive Director

The Russian national team, who have entered 54 judoka this weekend, is steered by Team Manager Ezio Gamba.

The 1980 Olympic champion and 1984 Olympic silver medallist, who was inducted into the IJF Hall of Fame in 2013, outlined his vision for the Russian team and discussed the make-up of their high-performance programme.

“I set things up for four years or even eight years, this is the reason why I already set all projects for Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” said Gamba, who was also appointed as the European Judo Union General Secretary in April.

“I started this project in 2009 and while now I also have an EJU role which can take up some time, I am fortunate that I have an organised team here in Russia which is full of leaders and supporters.

“The head coaches are realty able to manage all the things, I am in connection with them at all times for planning and organisation which is all done by me. I am really satisfied with where we are and what we can do.

“For our seniors, u23 judoka, juniors and cadet teams I set their targets and for me there is not a great concern about points or rankings. I take note of results in the European Championships and the World Championships but everything is a work in progress. I want everyone to finish each competition with an athlete having information and input on what they need to work on.

“When they win this is the most difficult time, it is difficult to push them 100% and for them to take suggestions. When they win they have motivation to increase their work and develop new things. I don’t want to push anyone to be in the World Masters, World Championships or European Championships; I must observe their physical condition and level of each judoka.” 

Gamba congratulates -52kg bronze medallist Natalia KUZIUTINA

Gamba went on to explain the numbers in each Russian team and their annual workload.

“We have 70 men and 40 women in the senior team and the numbers are the same for the u23 group.

“The senior group are involved in competing or training for 300 days a year with the u23 judoka working for approximately 240 days.

“The juniors put in around 150 days while the cadets do approximately 100-120 days and this is how we move our judoka forward. With my colleagues we decide to involve all women and all age groups together in our training camps.”

Asked how the Russian team have enjoyed such consistent success, Gamba, detailed his theory and approach that has led to five medals at London 2012 (3 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze) and three medals at Rio 2016 (2 gold and 1 bronze).   

“It is true that the results have been amazing and we have the top total number of medals in these eight years – no other nation is as high, so we have a high quantity and the quality is there. I prefer to have seven bronze medals in a Worlds than two gold medals because I have the belief that each of those bronze medals can become gold in the future. 

“When I started with the Russian Judo Federation, I said I don’t want to follow seven or 10 judoka, I want to be able to lead a team for three Olympic cycles. We have a fair number of staff certainly but when you compare it to France, who has four national centres and 2000 elite judoka in training, Japan has mass numbers in Universities and Brazil has some volume, we have modest numbers.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished and believe we are getting stronger and stronger.”

Opening Ceremony

Mr. Evgeniy KUYVASHEV (below - centre), Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region, said: “Dear guests and participants, we are glad to welcome you all at this event at the cultural, scientific and sporting centre of Russia, Ekaterinburg.

“I am sure that this event will add motivation to develop judo in Russia. I wish you all beautiful judo and a lot of success.”

Mr. Valentin KHABIROV (below - left), RJF Vice President and Executive Director, said: “This is a welcoming speech on behalf of Mr. Vasily ANISIMOV, RJF President. Dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the first Grand Slam here in Ekaterinburg.

“We are delighted that participants from all over the world are here in Ekaterinburg to compete in this prestigious event. I am sure that this competition in the Ural region will motivate judoka for years to come and hope you will all have a wonderful impression of this hospitable city.

“I would like to thank the IJF and President Mr. Marius VIZER for supporting us and trusting the city of Ekaterinburg to host this vitally important event.”

Mr. Sergey SOLOVEYCHIK (above - right), IJF Vice President and EJU President, said: “Dear guests, spectators and judoka, I am happy to welcome you to this Grand Slam 2017 competition and this message is on behalf of the IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER. Many judoka have arrived here from 36 nations and we have Olympic champions and world champions and many other exceptional judoka.

“I would like to thank the Interim Governor of the Sverdlovsk region, the sponsors and organisation team for their efforts. Now I declare the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam 2017 open.”

On Sunday the heavyweights will power up as they bid to seize Grand Slam gold with the seven remaining categories due to be contested. Watch the men’s -81kg, -90kg, -100kg, +100kg and the women’s -70kg, -78kg and +78kg divisions live and free on Sunday from 10am local time at  


Use #JudoRussia2017 to join in with the social media discussion


-48kg: Fourth Grand Slam gold for Worlds-ready KONDO         

Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist KONDO Ami (JPN) showed that she is ready to challenge for a third consecutive Worlds medal this summer after a straightforward win in Ekaterinburg. Antalya Grand Prix bronze medallist Sabina GILIAZOVA (RUS) was unable to impose herself as class act KONDO held down the Russian with a ushiro-kesa-gatame hold for 20 seconds to clinch the gold medal. World number six KONDO, 22, had won successive Grand Slam bronze medals in Tokyo and Paris since Rio 2016 and was recently selected for this year’s World Championships. KONDO, who won the Worlds in 2014 and bronze a year later, is now in pole position for Budapest 2017. 


In the first semi-final GALBADRAKH was surprisingly beaten by GILIAZOVA by a waza-ari while in the second semi-final Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Melanie CLEMENT (FRA) fell to KONDO who trapped her opponent in osaekomi with a kami-shiho-gatame for 20 seconds and ippon. 

The first bronze medal contest saw Tashkent Grand Prix winner Mariia PERSIDSKAIA (RUS) tumble after only 16 seconds to CLEMENT. The French judoka produced a left-sided harai-goshi for ippon inside 20 seconds to capture her first Grand Slam honours. The second bronze medal contest went to world number two GALBADRAKH who salvaged a place on the medal podium despite being far from her best. GALBADRAKH prevailed as five-time Grand Slam medallist Nataliya KOMOVA (RUS) received her third shido in golden score to be disqualified and the Kazakh has work to do if she is to win her first Worlds senior medal in August. 
GILIAZOVA, Sabina (RUS) vs KONDO, Ami (JPN)                          
Bronze Medal Fights
PERSIDSKAIA, Mariia (RUS) vs CLEMENT, Melanie (FRA)                            
GALBADRAKH, Otgontsetseg (KAZ) vs KOMOVA, Nataliya (RUS)      

Final Results
1. KONDO, Ami (JPN)                                                                              
2. GILIAZOVA, Sabina (RUS)  
3. CLEMENT, Melanie (FRA)                              
3. GALBADRAKH, Otgontsetseg (KAZ)             
5. SIDSKAIA, Mariia (RUS)           
5. KOMOVA, Nataliya (RUS)                    
7. BATTAMIR, Khorloo (MGL) 
7. RUMYANTSEVA, Kristina (RUS)          

-52kg: Brazilian maestro MIRANDA wins ahead of Worlds tilt           

Three-time world medallist Erika MIRANDA (BRA) won the fourth Grand Slam gold medal of her decorated career as she beat European Championships silver medallist Alesya KUZNETSOVA (RUS) in the -52kg final. MIRANDA, who is only missing gold from her Worlds collection, won all four of her contests in Russia including a gusty display in the final to pull back the contest from ne-waza ace KUZNETSOVA who moved up from -48kg to -52kg in February. KUZNETSOVA scored first from a tate-shiho-gatame hold for 18 seconds and the knowledgeable crowd raised the volume inside the Palace of Sports whenever the contest reached the ground. MIRANDA levelled the score in regulation time with a waza-ari before rolling over her opponent in added time for a gold medal-winning score. 


In the first semi-final KUZNETSOVA downed former world bronze medallist Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) after three minutes and 25 seconds of added time. The home judoka rolled BUCHARD for a match-winning waza-ari as she came out victorious in a battle of two former -48kg standouts who have moved up to -52kg. 

In the second semi-final Olympic bronze medallist Natalia KUZIUTINA lost out to MIRANDA via a left-sided ippon seoi-nage which came after a titanic tussle. The Brazilian and the home judoka went over double their regulation time as four minutes and four seconds of golden score was needed to deliver to first and last score of the contest.

In the first bronze medal contest Antalya Grand Prix silver medallist Gili COHEN (ISR) was held down by KUZIUTINA as the Russian won bronze to a loud ovation from her supporters. In the second bronze medal contest BUCHARD bested Pan American Championships bronze medallist Ecaterina GUICA (CAN) in 13 seconds. The French judoka, who has finally committed to the -52kg category having flirted with the division since 2014, won by ippon as she finally looks settled at her new weight category. 
KUZNETSOVA, Alesya (RUS) vs MIRANDA, Erika (BRA)        

Bronze Medal Fights
COHEN, Gili (ISR) vs KUZIUTINA, Natalia (RUS)                        
BUCHARD, Amandine (FRA) vs GUICA, Ecaterina (CAN)                               
Final Results
1. MIRANDA, Erika (BRA)                         
3. KUZIUTINA, Natalia (RUS)                                                                               
3. BUCHARD, Amandine (FRA)                               
5. COHEN, Gili (ISR)                                                          
5. GUICA, Ecaterina (CAN)                                                                  
7. PUPP, Reka (HUN)       
7. SKRYPNIK, Darya (BLR)                          

-57kg: Returning ROPER seals history as Panama’s first IJF medallist       

Former world bronze medallist Miryam ROPER (PAN) exceeded all expectations on her return to the international circuit as she marked her first IJF World Judo Tour appearance for Panama by not only winning her country’s first ever IJF medal but also ensured that it was gold and therefore Himno IstmeƱo would be played for the first time. London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympian Miryam Roper, 34, who was born in Germany to a German mother and Panamanian father, was deemed surplus to requirements for Germany following her second Olympics as they looked to move in a new direction and to introduce younger talent. ROPER believed that she still had plenty to offer at the elite level and that was proved to be the case on Saturday as the -57kg judoka won gold for Panama. 


ROPER, who was funded to take part in Ekaterinburg by the IJF and fought without a coach, was opposed to former world champion UDAKA Nae (JPN) in the final and took control of an attack to set her opponent off balance for ippon as she broke down in tears of sheer elation having gone through every emotion imaginable in elite sport in the last year. 

In the first semi-final Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix winner LKHAGVATOGOO Enkhriilen (MGL) was dismissed by ROPER who held down the Mongolian for 20 seconds to guarantee a first ever medal for Panama at this level. In the second semi-final UDAKA – who defeated Olympic champion Rafaela SILVA (BRA) in golden score in their quarter-final - was too strong for 20-year-old Pan American Championships winner Jessica KLIMKAIT (CAN). The Canadian received a third shido in golden score to receive her marching orders and it was the Japanese judoka who advanced. 

The first bronze medal contest saw beaten semi-finalist KLIMKAIT defeat Tyumen Grand Slam silver medallist Daria MEZHETCKAIA (RUS) to win her first Grand Slam medal with a morote-seoi-nage. MEZHETCKAIA had recorded a waza-ari of her own with the same technique but KLIMKAIT marginally outworked her opponent and was a worthy winner with a winning margin of one waza-ari. In the second bronze medal contest Olympic champion Rafaela SILVA (BRA) defeated 18-year-old LKHAGVATOGOO who put forward a respectable showing despite losing by hansoku-make for accumulating three shido penalties. 

ROPER, Miryam (PAN) vs UDAKA, Nae (JPN)         

Bronze Medal Fights
MEZHETCKAIA, Daria (RUS) vs KLIMKAIT, Jessica (CAN)                
LKHAGVATOGOO, Enkhriilen (MGL) vs SILVA, Rafaela (BRA)    


Final Results 
1. ROPER, Miryam (PAN)                 
2. UDAKA, Nae (JPN)        
3. KLIMKAIT, Jessica (CAN)                     
3. SILVA, Rafaela (BRA)                                   
5. MEZHETCKAIA, Daria (RUS)                                                  
5. LKHAGVATOGOO, Enkhriilen (MGL)                                 
7. NELSON LEVY, Timna (ISR)                            

-63kg:  TRAJDOS tops Grand Slam podium to boost Worlds intentions 

European Games Martyna TRAJDOS (GER) topped the Grand Slam medal podium in Russia to cast herself forward as one of the top contenders for the World Championships. Tokyo 2015 Grand Slam winner TRAJDOS, 28, held down former European bronze medallist Ekaterina VALKOVA (RUS) for 20 seconds for her 10th Grand Slam medal and most important to date.  

In the first semi-final TRAJDOS held down Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Amy LIVESEY (GBR) for 20 seconds, ippon and a place in the gold medal contest. A kesa-gatame hold subdued the British judoka from St Helens who moved down into the bronze medal contest as a result of the defeat. 

In the second semi-final VALKOVA drove past Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Mariana SILVA (BRA) by ippon in just 17 seconds.

The first bronze medal contest saw SILVA pick up a third Grand Slam bronze medal as former Pan American Championships bronze medallist Stefanie TREMBLAY (CAN) was disqualified with hansoku-make. In the second bronze medal contest LIVESEY struck Grand Slam silverware for the first time as she beat Tyumen Grand Slam silver medallist Daria DAVYDOVA (RUS) by a waza-ari score after four minutes.              

TRAJDOS, Martyna (GER) vs VALKOVA, Ekaterina (RUS)                            

Bronze Medal Fights 
TREMBLAY, Stefanie (CAN) vs SILVA, Mariana (BRA)                 
LIVESEY, Amy (GBR) vs DAVYDOVA, Daria (RUS)              


Final Results 
1. TRAJDOS, Martyna (GER)
2. VALKOVA, Ekaterina (RUS)                                                                                
3. SILVA, Mariana (BRA)                       
3. LIVESEY, Amy (GBR)                                       
5. TREMBLAY, Stefanie (CAN)
5. DAVYDOVA, Daria (RUS)                                                            
7. TSEND-AYUSH, Tserennadmid (MGL)                          


-60kg: Japan unleash NAGAYAMA who is now set for impactful Worlds debut     

Tokyo Grand Slam winner NAGAYAMA Ryuju (JPN) outshone former European Championships winner Amiran PAPINASHVILI (GEO) by registering three scores without reply. The 21-year-old unleashed a torrent of attacks as he opened with a waza-ari from an uchi-mata after 40 seconds before adding a waza-ari from a modified ura-nage. NAGAYAMA, who will join Olympic bronze medallist TAKATO Naohisa as his country’s -60kg judoka in Budapest, added a third waza-ari with ashi-waza and comfortably saw out the clock to earn his finest international triumph of his young career.  

In the first semi-final PAPINASHVILI (GEO) beat former Junior World Championships winner Francisco GARRIGOS (ESP) by ippon after only 26 seconds. In the second semi-final NAGAYAMA registered three waza-ari without reply against Savva KARAKIZIDI (RUS) before putting the Russian judoka out of his misery by ippon. 


The first bronze medal contest was won by Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Cedric REVOL (FRA) who defeated KARAKIZIDI by a waza-ari from a drop seoi-nage after four minutes of action. In the second bronze medal contest GARRIGOS suffered his second defeat in a row as Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Albert OGUZOV (RUS) was designated as the winner by ippon after 14 seconds.                                      
NAGAYAMA, Ryuju (JPN) vs PAPINASHVILI, Amiran (GEO)                    

Bronze Medal Fights
KARAKIZIDI, Savva (RUS) vs REVOL, Cedric (FRA)                            
GARRIGOS, Francisco (ESP) vs OGUZOV, Albert (RUS)                        


Final Results
1. NAGAYAMA, Ryuju (JPN)
2. PAPINASHVILI, Amiran (GEO)                                            
3. REVOL, Cedric (FRA)                              
3. OGUZOV, Albert (RUS)                                                                      
5. KARAKIZIDI, Savva (RUS)  
5. GARRIGOS, Francisco (ESP)                                                           
7. GOMIS, Joaquin (ESP)                            

-66kg: ABDULZHALILOV rules for Russia            

Antalya Grand Prix winner Abdula ABDULZHALILOV (RUS) made his Grand Slam outing count on Saturday as he methodically worked his way to the top of the -66kg medal podium. The Russian judoka won his country’s first gold medal at their home Grand Slam when two-time Grand Slam winner Charles CHIBANA (BRA) attempted to turn out of a throw by bridging and that is not legal due to the risk of injury for the athlete and the Brazilian was disqualified. 

In the first semi-final Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medallist DOVDON Altansukh (MGL) succumb to ABDULZHALILOV with a booming seoi-nage for ippon. In the second semi-final CHIBANA dramatically came from behind to deny Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Yakub SHAMILOV (RUS) a home final. The Brazilian trailed to a waza-ari from a tani-otoshi but with six seconds left on the clock the former picked up his Russian rival and dispatched him for ippon. 

The first bronze medal contest saw Junior European Championships winner Dzmitry MINKOU (BLR) beat DOVDON by ippon for his first Grand Slam podium. The 20-year-old shocked his accomplished Mongolian opponent by ippon as Belarus were off the mark in Ekaterinburg. In the second bronze medal contest Casablanca African Open winner Islam KHAMETOV (RUS) edged out SHAMILOV (RUS) by a waza-ari to grace the medal podium.                   

CHIBANA, Charles (BRA) vs ABDULZHALILOV, Abdula (RUS)                      

Bronze Medal Fights
MINKOU, Dzmitry (BLR) vs DOVDON, Altansukh (MGL)                         
SHAMILOV, Yakub (RUS) vs KHAMETOV, Islam (RUS)                            

Final Result
1. ABDULZHALILOV, Abdula (RUS)                       
2. CHIBANA, Charles (BRA)                      
3. MINKOU, Dzmitry (BLR)                                 
3. KHAMETOV, Islam (RUS)                                                                                  
5. DOVDON, Altansukh (MGL)                                                                            
5. SHAMILOV, Yakub (RUS)              
7. NINIASHVILI, Bagrati (GEO)                        
7. OLEINIC, Sergiu (POR)                       

-73kg:  Japanese juggernaut HASHIMOTO installed as favourite for Worlds glory

Sensational HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) won his third career Grand Slam medal as Japan were irresistible on day one in Russia. World number two HASHIMOTO, who is undefeated on the tour since 2015, maintained his unbeaten run that could well extend beyond his first World Championships in August. HASHIMOTO, who is only behind Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Rustam ORUJOV (AZE) on the World Ranking List, routed surprise finalist and Lima Pan American Open winner Marcelo CONTINI (BRA) with two waza-ari scores going unanswered before the Japanese ace made sure of gold with a beautiful sode-tsurikomi-goshi throw for ippon. 

In the first semi-final HASHIMOTO defeated former Pan American Championships winner Arthur MARGELIDON (CAN) with a tai-otoshi for ippon.  

In the second semi-final CONTINI (BRA) bested former Glasgow European Open silver medallist Sam VAN T WESTENDE (NED) by ippon after 67 seconds to remain fresh for the final.

In the first bronze medal contest VAN T WESTENDE could not escape the clutches of Pierre DUPRAT (FRA) in osaekomi as the latter wrapped up the Dutchman with a tate-shiho-gatame hold to win by ippon. In the second bronze medal contest former Junior European Championships winner Benjamin AXUS (FRA) also pinned down his opponent for bronze. The young Frenchman saw off MARGELIDON to match his countryman DUPRAT. 
CONTINI, Marcelo (BRA) vs HASHIMOTO, Soichi (JPN)                            

Bronze Medal Fights
VAN T WESTENDE, Sam (NED) vs DUPRAT, Pierre (FRA)                          
MARGELIDON, Arthur (CAN) vs AXUS, Benjamin (FRA)                          

Final Result
1. HASHIMOTO, Soichi (JPN)                                
2. CONTINI, Marcelo (BRA)                                
3. DUPRAT, Pierre (FRA)                                                         
3. AXUS, Benjamin (FRA)                          
5. VAN T WESTENDE, Sam (NED)                                                          
5. MARGELIDON, Arthur (CAN)                              
7. MOHYELDIN, Mohamed (EGY)