Judo is back in the land of Champions: Georgia. And as is tradition, the Tbilisi stadium was packed with judo-crazy Georgian fans on the first day of what promised to be an exciting Grand Slam event.
In the -48kg, loyal Milica Nikolic narrowly beat the promising Andrea Stojadinov in the all-Serbian final to win the gold medal.
IJF Chief Sports Director Vladimir Barta presented the medals.
Azerbaijani Turan Bayramov put an end to Georgia’s hopes with a surprising and unusual attack on Giorgi Sardalashvili at 60 kg – he was delighted.
The medals were presented by Shengeli Pitskhelauri, Deputy Head of the Georgian State Security Service.
Uzbekistan’s talisman Diyora Keldiyorova faced Kosovo’s Distria Krasniqi in the -52 kg final and scored one of the biggest wins of her career, beating Krasniqi twice with her unique falling technique and attacking style.
IJF Athletic Director Michael Tamura presented the medals.
He later said, “This is the result of technical and tactical work with my coaches. Beating the Olympic Champion is a big step towards my dreams.”
At -66kg, Kubanychbek Aibek Uulu showed some outstanding footwork to give Kyrgyzstan their first Grand Slam Gold.
Mohammed Meridja, Director of Education and Coaching at IJF, presented him with his medals
“Me and my team are really happy and we’re going to celebrate that today,” he later said. “But I will train again from tomorrow and race on the tatami again next week. I also want to express my gratitude to my family, they always support me and watch me at home on TV.”
At -57kg, Serbian Marica Perisic beat another Kosovar – Olympic Champion Nora Gjakova and she was absolutely delighted!
IJF Chief Referee Director Florin Daniel Lascau presented the medals.
Georgia has its own brand of judo
Georgian athletes certainly have their own brand of judo: strong pickups and passionate displays of emotion characterize this warrior nation. Olympic Silver Medal winner Vazha Margvelashvili did not make it to the final, but her explosive ippons gave fans much to cheer.
Don’t miss the next two days of this dynamic Grand Slam.