Friday, March 31, 2017

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 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Baku Grand Slam 2017 - Azerbaijan DAY ONE

Five different counties strike gold as judo’s universality is on show at #JudoBaku2017      

The Baku Grand Slam 2017, the second Grand Slam of the year, opened on Friday as the World Championships 2018 host city became the centre of the judo world on this European leg of the IJF World Judo Tour 2017. 

Baku hosted the IJF Referee and Coach seminar in January where the adjusted set of rules for 2017 were introduced to coaches and delegations ahead of the new season.

Azerbaijan’s capital city has a renowned reputation of staging first-class judo events including its annual Grand Slam and previously a Grand Prix and a World Judo Masters in 2011. Baku is one leg of five Grand Slams with Paris (FRA), Yekaterinburg (RUS), Abu Dhabi (U.A.E) and Tokyo (JPN) completing the quintet.

The Azerbaijan Judo Federation and its judoka along with the international delegations in Baku this weekend are well aware of next year’s World Championships being staged in the city but are firmly focused in the moment and attaining Grand Slam honours as the IJF World Judo Tour 2017 gathers momentum towards August’s Worlds in Budapest, Hungary.


Day one of #JudoBaku2017 also marked the official unveiling of the IJF’s application for a team event to be added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games programme.  

The #JudoTeams2020 bid would see an extra day added to the schedule following seven day’s of individual action for a mixed team event composing of six judoka (3 women, -57 kg, -70kg, +70 kg, and 3 men, - 73 kg, -90 kg, +90 kg).

Athletes will be those from the individual events. The proposed competition system: a quarterfinal repechage, with the four (4) best teams seeded. For more information about the team event CLICK HERE.

Use the hashtag #JudoTeams2020 on social media if you would like to see a team judo event on the Olympic stage.


Three women’s categories and two men’s categories were contested on the opening as the winners were crowned in the -48kg, -52kg and -57kg categories and the men’s -60kg and -66kg divisions.

Before the first medal contests of the Baku Grand Slam 2017, the IJF and Azerbaijan Judo Federation shared the stage for opening ceremony.

Mr. Ismayil ISMAYILOV, Vice Minister of Sport and Youth of Azerbaijan, made the opening address.

“Welcome everyone to Baku for this fantastic competition. Sport is very important to Azerbaijan and judo is one of our favourite and most loved activities. We are performing successfully in sports and especially in judo. It is our national policy that special care and attention is given to sport. I would like also to mention that more than 50 sports events annually are held in Azerbaijan.

“The results of our athletes at major events proves our commitment to sport and this is shown in judo with our results at the Rio 2016 Olympics. I would like to thank the President of the International Judo Federation, Mr. Marius VIZER, for trusting us to hold this competition. This weekend 183 judoka are competing from 31 nations and I wish everyone a lot of success.”

Mr. Marius VIZER (speaking above), IJF President, said: “Mr. Vice Minister of Sport and Youth of Azerbaijan, Dear President ABDULLAYEV, dear judo family members, guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Azerbaijan, the country of sport, culture and friendship.

“I want to express my thanks and gratitude to the government of Azerbaijan and the President of the Azerbaijan Judo Federation for the organisation of the Grand Slam and next year the Worlds. I congratulate Azerbaijan for your successful results at the Olympics and on the IJF World Judo Tour. I wish you a nice stay in Baku and declare the Baku Grand Slam 2017 open.”

Mr. Rovnag ABDULLAYEV (above - right), Azerbaijan Judo Federation President, said: “Dear Mr. Vizer, dear members of the judo family, dear guests and athletes, I welcome all of you in Azerbaijan. I would like to especially thank the representatives of all countries for accepting our invitation and coming to our country. Holding this event in Azerbaijan has become a tradition and it is a great judo holiday in our country.

“As a result of holding such kind of events, the interest in judo among the young generation has increased greatly. I would like to welcome all of you and I officially announce the event opened.”

On Saturday, the second day of the Baku Grand Slam, four weight categories will be in action as the men’s -73kg and -81kg categories will compete alongside the women’s -63kg and -70kg categories with four more winners set be crowned in the land of fire.  

Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist and triple world champion Yuri ALVEAR (COL) will be among the icons in action as she battles in the -70kg category on Saturday. 

Click here for the full medal table


Use #JudoBaku2017 to join in with the social media discussion 


-48kg:  Brazilian livewire KOYAMA beats seasoned opposition for gold on IJF debut

Grand Slam rookie Stefannie Arissa KOYAMA (BRA) was the star of the -48kg category as the IJF World Judo Tour debutant won all four contests for a debut to remember. The 21-year-old still lives in her native Japan where she is in her final year of University. Brazilian pocket rocket KOYAMA had the style and frenetic pace which is associated with Japanese judoka and picked off her bewildered opponents. The young finalist scored a waza-ari from a ko-soto-gari and added a second from a ko-soto-gake to become a new face in the category for a new Olympic cycle with a confident win over the favourite Milica NIKOLIC (SRB). 

In the first semi-final Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Milica NIKOLIC (SRB) defeated former Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Shira RISHONY (ISR) by a waza-ari. In the second semi-final Rio 2016 Olympian Taciana CESAR (GBS) fell to KOYAMA. Brazil-born CESAR went behind to a waza-ari from an explosive movement from the young Brazilian who immediately applied the osaekomi and the former tapped out after 12 seconds.

The first bronze medal contest was won by Düsseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist Noa MINSKER (ISR) who defeated veteran CESAR, 33, with a waza-ari which came with 15 seconds left. MINSKER, who was off with a reverse seoi-nage attempt in the first exchange, drove the African champion over finally with a morote-seoi-nage and CESAR was unable to find a reply in the closing seconds. Israel’s MINSKER will now continue her accelerated ascension up the rankings having followed her Düsseldorf podium with a first career Grand Slam medal.

The second bronze medal was won by RISHONY after World Judo Masters bronze medallist Maryna CHERNIAK (UKR) received a direct hansoku-make for a waki-gatame. The Ukrainian led by a waza-ari from a sumi-gaeshi but was disqualified for the aforementioned illegal move in the closing seconds to send RISHONY onto the podium. 
KOYAMA, Stefannie Arissa (BRA) vs NIKOLIC, Milica (SRB)
Bronze Medal Fights
CESAR, Taciana (GBS) vs MINSKER, Noa (ISR)
RISHONY, Shira (ISR) vs CHERNIAK, Maryna (UKR)

Final Results
1. KOYAMA, Stefannie Arissa (BRA)
2. NIKOLIC, Milica (SRB)
3. MINSKER, Noa (ISR)                                
3. RISHONY, Shira (ISR)
5. CESAR, Taciana (GBS)
5. CHERNIAK, Maryna (UKR)
7. ALIYEVA, Leyla (AZE)
7. POP, Alexandra (ROU)

-52kg: Flourishing FLORIAN flows forward on Grand Slam stage for Romania

Two of the brightest prospects in the -52kg category were matched against each other in the final in Baku as 20-year-old former Junior European champion PUPP Reka (HUN) faced Düsseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist Alexandra-Larisa FLORIAN (ROU). FLORIAN, 21, dictated the pace from the very first exchange and was able to throw with her favoured uchi-mata for a waza-ari. The Romanian, who started as the number two seed, was positive all day long and reaped the rewards for her first Grand Slam win and second successive medal on the IJF World Judo Tour. 

In the first semi-final world number seven Gili COHEN (ISR) was thwarted by PUPP by ippon as the Hungarian overcame the top seed with minimal resistance. In the second semi-final FLORIAN (ROU) came out on top against London 2012 Olympic champion Sarah MENEZES (BRA) as the latter received three shidos and was disqualified. FLORIAN could not hide her pleasure as she was all smiles when she bowed to her opponent and walked off the tatami to be congratulated by her coach having guaranteed her first Grand Slam medal.

The first bronze medal was clinched by Tunis African Open silver medallist Anja STANGAR (SLO) who dismissed MENEZES by a waza-ari from a drop seoi-nage. The 21-year-old’s first Grand Slam appearance was a successful one and it came against the decorated Brazilian who is still adjusting to her new weight having moved up from -48kg.

The second bronze medal was won by London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Charline VAN SNICK (BEL) who showed off her ne-waza precision to capture her first IJF medal at her new weight. VAN SNICK, 26, who moved up from -48kg in December, submitted COHEN with a juji-gatame.                                       
FLORIAN, Alexandra-Larisa (ROU) vs PUPP, Reka (HUN)

Bronze Medal Fights
COHEN, Gili (ISR) vs VAN SNICK, Charline (BEL)
Final Results
1. FLORIAN, Alexandra-Larisa (ROU)
2. PUPP, Reka (HUN)
3. STANGAR, Anja (SLO)
3. VAN SNICK, Charline (BEL)
5. MENEZES, Sarah (BRA)
5. COHEN, Gili (ISR)
7. PIENKOWSKA, Karolina (POL) 

-57kg: LIEN celebrates as Chinese Taipei anthem plays for the first time at a Grand Slam 

World number 12 LIEN Chen-Ling (TPE) was one of the biggest winners on day one as she defeated Düsseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist Jovana ROGIC (SRB) to become the first Chinese Taipei judoka to win Grand Slam gold. Japan-based LIEN, 29, who was making her first start in 2017, having finished fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympics, took the contest to ROGIC and scored a waza-ari from an uchi-mata with 45 seconds remaining. 

In the first semi-final LIEN defeated Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Sevara NISHANBAYEVA (KAZ) to the delight of the Komatsu fans in attendance. The 23-year-old Kazakh, who was making her Grand Slam debut, was trapped in a sankaku-gatame for 20 seconds and LIEN moved into the gold medal contest without breaking a sweat. In the second semi-final ROGIC saw off Junior European Championships bronze medallist Julia KOWALCZYK (POL) who received her third shido for passivity after three minutes of golden score.

The first bronze medal was won by KOWALCZYK who defeated 23-year-old IJF World Judo Tour newcomer Gilmara PRUDENCIO (BRA). The Polish judoka attacked with ko-uchi-gari and then o-uchi-gari to send the Brazilian over for a waza-ari and PRUDENCIO could not compete due to injury.          

The second bronze medal was won by European Championships bronze medallist Timna NELSON LEVY (ISR) who held down NISHANBAYEVA with a mune-gatame. The former became the fifth Israeli to medal on day one and the third woman from their impressive team in Baku.                        

ROGIC, Jovana (SRB) vs LIEN, Chen-Ling (TPE)

Bronze Medal Fights


Final Results 
1. LIEN, Chen-Ling (TPE)
2. ROGIC, Jovana (SRB)
3. NELSON LEVY, Timna (ISR)              
5. PRUDENCIO, Gilmara (BRA)
7. SHAHIN, Leyla (AZE)
7. KAJZER, Kaja (SLO)


-60kg: SHISHIME doubles his golden Grand Slam haul for Japan 

Former Paris Grand Slam winner SHISHIME Toru (JPN) was unmatched in Baku as he won -60kg gold to stand on top spot at a Grand Slam medal podium for the second time. Tashkent Grand Prix winner Mukhriddin TILOVOV (UZB) was an unexpected finalist as he opposed the Japanese in a first time encounter. World number 29 SHISHIME countered his opponent for a waza-ari and then added a waza-ari from an uchi-mata with 27 seconds left. 


In the first semi-final world number 73 Gusman KYRGYZBAYEV (KAZ) lost to world bronze medallist SHISHIME Toru (JPN) after receiving hansoku-make for a head dive. The Kazakh was a waza-ari down with 13 seconds left and received his marching orders for diving onto this head to evade landing on his back. In the second semi-final Tashkent Grand Prix winner Mukhriddin TILOVOV (UZB) profited from Abu Dhabi Grand Prix silver medallist Eric TAKABATAKE (BRA) receiving a third shido in golden score to be disqualified with hansoku-make.

The first bronze medal was won by number one seed Orkhan SAFAROV (AZE) - his fourth Grand Slam medal - by holding down TAKABATAKE. The Azeri delivered for the home faithful as he took the lead with a waza-ari and pinned down the Brazilian with a mune-gatame and the pressure was so immense that TAKABATAKE tapped out.

The second bronze medal was won by Madrid European Open silver medallist Yanislav GERCHEV (BUL) from a gigantic ura-nage against KYRGYZBAYEV after 66 seconds of golden score. That moment of magic was worth the wait for the Bulgarian who is finally off the mark on the IJF World Judo Tour. 
TILOVOV, Mukhriddin (UZB) vs SHISHIME, Toru (JPN)

Bronze Medal Fights
GERCHEV, Yanislav (BUL) vs KYRGYZBAYEV, Gusman (KAZ)

Final Results
2. TILOVOV, Mukhriddin (UZB)
3. SAFAROV, Orkhan (AZE)
3. GERCHEV, Yanislav (BUL)
7. DASHDAVAA, Amartuvshin (MGL)

-66kg: Israel’s FLICKER sees off Grand Slam magician TAKAJO for gold         

Four-time Grand Slam winner TAKAJO Tomofumi (JPN) could not make it to five on Friday as he succumb to Düsseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist Tal FLICKER (ISR) in golden score. World number 21 TAKAJO was not at his explosive best as he went through the gears and into golden score against FLICKER were both judoka had a shido on their records with no scores after four minutes. TAKAJO, who needed to win and win well to put his name into contention for a Worlds spot, was penalised with a shido for passivity in golden score and that error saw the contest and gold medal awarded to FLICKER.

In the first semi-final Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Nijat SHIKHALIZADA (AZE) was bested by TAKAJO. After one minute of golden score TAKAJO caught the home judoka with a rapid ko-uchi-gari for ippon and a place in the final. In the second semi-final FLICKER downed u23 European Championships winner Denis VIERU (MDA) to book a place in the final.

The first bronze medal was won by world number 275 Lasha GIUNASHVILI (GEO) as 21-year-old VIERU let out a scream of frustration at the end of the four minutes. The Georgian opened his IJF World Judo Tour medal account by forcing over his Moldovan opponent with a te-waza movement to complete a highly-successful first Grand Slam outing while it is only a matter of time until VIERU steps into an IJF podium.
The second bronze medal went to Zagreb Grand Prix silver medallist Baruch SHMAILOV (ISR) who shut out SHIKHALIZADA and ended up a convincing winner by three waza-ari scores which went unanswered. The crowd rooted for their Azeri ace SHIKHALIZADA but SHMAILOV was in top form as Israel were heavily involved in final block on day one.


TAKAJO, Tomofumi (JPN) vs FLICKER, Tal (ISR)

Bronze Medal Fights
Final Result
2. TAKAJO, Tomofumi (JPN)
3. SHMAILOV, Baruch (ISR)
5. VIERU, Denis (MDA)
7. GANBOLD, Kherlen (MGL)
7. KHOJASTEH, Alireza (IRI)

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

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

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

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

Location: Heydar Aliyev Arena