Before the first matches, we expected a great show. We were not disappointed. The aforementioned Sulamanidze, seeded number one, won quickly to reach the semi-finals where he crossed paths with Peter Paltchik (ISR). Very fit, the Israeli was not the favourite, but, and that's what we like in judo, that did not discourage him. He won to reach the first final of his career in the Masters, after his two previous bronze medals, the last of which was at home in Jerusalem in December. Being a new father of twins, Paltchik seems to compete as a more relaxed athlete and obviously has a lot of fun being on the tatami.
In the second part of the draw, the double world champion, Jorge Fonseca (POR) could have sparked, but his fire was quickly extinguished by George Udsilauri (GER). Michael Korrel could also legitimately dream of gold but he had to surrender in front of Muzaffarbek Turoboyev (UZB), coming back from nowhere.
It must be said that the last few months have been complicated for the world champion of Tashkent 2022, with only a 7th place in Paris this year. After having drawn blanks at the 2022 Masters, in Tashkent and at the 2023 World Championships, the tall and slim Uzbek wanted to demonstrate that his title from last year was not usurped.
It is now done, since he won in the semi-final against Korrel to join Paltchik in the final. Peter Paltchik had a plan against Muzaffarbek Turoboyev to avoid the long arms and unorthodox gripping of the Uzbek champion, but it didn't work as Turoboyev could twice take advantage of his high position, first to score a waza-ari with a makikomi technique and then to score a second time, with a o-uchi-gari, leaving no chance to Paltchik. At least once a year Turoboyev is in great shape. It happened last year at the world championships and this season at the Masters. Will this be the case in Paris next year?
The first match for a bronze medal saw a confrontation between Kyle Reyes (CAN) and Bojan Dosen (SRB). Reyes and Dosen had a close contest for the all-important Masters bronze medal but it was Reyes who looked more in control throughout. As the time passed there were two penalties awarded to each but still the Canadian looked stronger and more precise. Half a minute into golden score he took a double collar grip and reached past Dosen to hook on to a low osoto-gari for waza-ari. The contest was going his way throughout and he confirmed it taking the bronze and the Olympic ranking points.
Sulamanidze (GEO) won the second bronze medal after Korrel (NED) was unable to compete.