Twenty-two year old Kanikovsky (AIN) has become one of the men of the moment having won gold in his last two outings, in Tokyo and then in Portugal. He’s dynamic and fearless and seems to relish a big challenge, the bigger the better.

In Tashkent, on the final day of competition, he did exactly what he set out to do, in search of the hat trick, winning contest after contest no matter the work required, the first against Savitsky (UKR) with a sutemi-waza and an o-soto-gari. His quarter-final brought a moment of danger when he was almost held down by local judoka Jandreev but eventually took a waza-ari win.

Kanikovskiy's round two win.

In his semi-final it was his teammate world champion Adamian who had to settle for a bronze medal contest after finding himself unable to equalise a waza-ari Kanikovskiy placed on the scoreboard early on. Adamian had been an extraordinarily strong contender for an Olympic medal after he won the worlds in Doha and then the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in 2023 but even a selection is now in doubt as Kanikovskiy is 3rd in the world ranking and in the final again in Tashkent, while he is in 11th place and competes only for a bronze.

Kanikovskiy (AIN) wins the semi-final

Adamian did beat double world champion Fonseca (POR) along the way though, having had to deal with an incredible draw in which their 3 world gold medals had to clash in round one. No mater what, a world champion would exit almost before the action started and in this case it was Fonseca who took the early shower.

Adamian (AIN) won the battle of the champions.

Uzbekistan’s hero, Muzzafarbek Turoboyev, 2022 world champion gave the hosts exactly what they were hoping for as he launched himself into the final. He fought his way through some risky contests but never gave up and was especially happy to throw young Japanese star, junior world champion Dota Arai, to the cheers of a fully engaged arena full of judo fans.

Turoboyev (UZB) threw Arai (JPN) in the semi-final.

The first bronze medal was to be contested by Toma Nikiforov (BEL) who had stayed under the radar all day but quietly made his way to the final block, and Arai. In a close and positive contest Nikiforov opened the scoring with. ko-uchi-gari for waza-ari, followed fairly fast by an equaliser from Aria, a ko-soto-gaeshi. Going into golden score with each already evidencing their throwing and countering ability, made it an exciting period of extra time. Arai attempted his uchi-mata several times while Nikiforov gave some energy in transtion. Arai's uchi-mata was not eliminated from his repertoire no matter how many times the Balgian avoided it and 3 minutes in golden score he switched the grip to score with uchi-mata-makikomi and leave with bronze.

Arai's (JPN) first score, with another to follow.

The second bronze medal was either for Kuczera (POL) or Adamian (AIN). Both men picked up penalties in normal time although both also tried to throw, Kuczera more focused on direct attacks and Adamian more focused on counters. Eventually the Polish fighter's strategy proved fruitful when he locked on to Adamian with a soto-makikomi with enough of a landing to bring him the medal and points he wanted.

Kuczera (POL) won the bronze.

The final was a very fast contest, Muzzafarbek Turoboyev unwilling to take any chances; disappointing his crowd was not an option. He threw Kanikovskiy and somehow made it look easy, begining with uchi-mata but switching the grip to finish with makikomi for ippon. The cheer in the Humo Arena was huge!

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Azizjon Kamilov, president of the Judo Federation of Uzbekistan and vice president of the National Olympic Committee of Uzbekistan, and Mr Ravshan Irmatov, first vice president of the National Olympic Committee of Uzbekistan

Bronze Medal Fights (-100 kg)

See also