The Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist from 2021 delivered an absolute masterclass on his way to taking his 5th grand slam gold. In the early rounds, he used the rarely-seen ude-garami to submit Stefansson, along with myriad dropping techniques to defeat world silver medallist Kokauri (AZE), double Olympic, world and European champion Lukas Krpalek (CZE), and finally multiple World Tour medallist Levani Matiashvili (GEO) in the semi-final.
His opponent in the final would turn out to be the equally technical Minjong Kim (KOR), whose run through to the final was just as impressive. He got the better of Takayawa (FIJ) and Antoniou (CYP) in rounds 2 and 3, respectively. In the quarter-final, he held down the current world champion Inal Tasoev (AIN) to cause a big upset. In his semi-final, he threw and held world silver medallist Tatsuro Saito (JPN) to set up a showdown with Bashaev.
Though the two fighters were evenly matched in terms of size and technical repertoire, the final was dominated by Bashaev, whose attacks were more frequent and more threatening. Towards the end of the 3rd minute of the match, Bashaev produced one of the throws of the tournament: a masterful uchi-mata-sukashi which made Kim appear weightless. It was a stunning ippon to end a magnificent weekend of judo.
Tasoev and Matiashvili were drawn together in the first bronze medal match. The Georgian couldn’t keep up with the world champion and was awarded a 3rd and final penalty after numerous strong attacks from his opponent. It was bronze for Tasoev, though he would’ve hoped for more at the beginning of the day.
The final bronze medal of the competition was awarded to Krpalek after his opponent Saito unfortunately had to withdraw ahead of the contest. The Czech legend’s quest to qualify in both the -100kg and +100kg categories continues.