Let’s begin with Endovitsky (AIN) and his willingness to use a range of techniques. In his first contest he won with makikomi and in his second he prepared a perfect o-uchi-gari from kumi-kata to kake. His throws are often direct, often surprising and also often successful. He is unseeded in Baku but if all went well early on, he may have expected to bump into Olympic silver medallist Tushishvili of Georgia in the quarter-final.
Final, Valeriy Endovitsky (AIN) vs Dzhamal Gamzatkhanov (AZE)

Things didn’t unfold as predicted and Endovitsky’s opponent was Song (KOR) who had dispatched Tushishvili with a stunning ko-uchi-gari just 20 seconds into their round two contest. Endovitsky continued his run though, ploughing into Song who was struggling to find his earlier precision.

Utkirbek Turoboyev (UZB) was next to dismantle one of the 4 highest ranked judoka of the day. Sipocz (HUN) topped pool B but seemed unwilling to engage with the Uzbek who threw him twice with makikomi inside 40 seconds. We can never overstate the emphasis of the rules, there to encourage positive, attacking judo, judo which is always directed at scoring ippon. Turoboyev certainly wanted to obey those principles and did so well. In his quarter-final he countered Marinic’s (SLO) seoi-nage attempt to register the winning score.

Sipocz (HUN) was beaten by Turoboyev (UZB).

The winner of pool C was also not top of the pool at the beginning of the day. Gamzatkhanov (AZE) threw double Olympic medallist and 4-time world medallist Rafael Silva (BRA) for ippon with ko-soto-gake in golden score.

Gamzatkhanov (AZE) won the semi-final against Jelle Snippe (NED).

Jelle Snippe (NED) was the only one of the top four to reach a semi-final but he too was stopped, eventually, losing to Gamzatkhanov, giving the host entrant his first ever grand slam medal, either a silver or a gold. While here, there is a special note for Johannes Frey (GER) who was beaten by Snippe in round two. He was injured in Abu Dhabi in 2022; no-one likes to focus on injuries but occasionally a recovery deserves mention. For Frey it was serious and the IJF medical team have remained in touch ever since, checking in with the German doctors regularly. After 16 months out we were thrilled to see him win the Gyor continental open last week before coming back to the WJT tatami. Congratulations to him for putting in such incredible work to come back to judo.

Johannes Frey (GER), back to judo!

The first bronze medal was fought for between Marinic and Snippe, the former having won his repechage contest in the most spectacular way, as seen here.

The contest remained even, Marinic unable to execute the ashi-waza he started the day with and Snippe's power being neutralised, but just 5 seconds before the end Snippe made space and threw Marinic for ippon to take the medal.

The second bronze of the category could also go back to the Netherlands with Spijkers or to Uzbekistan with Turoboyev. There was a back and forth between them which could have gone either way but Spijkers seemed to be more determined than his counterpart. In the second half of the contest Spijkers scored with a shoulder technique and shortly after he added to it with a huge o-uchi-gari for ippon. It was a well deserved bronze medal gicing the whole bronze medal step over to the Netherlands in this category.

Final, Valeriy Endovitskiy (AIN) vs Dzhamal Gamzatkhanov (AZE)

In the final, Endovitskiy (AIN) and Gamzatkhanov (AZE), perhaps not the two names we expected, got down to work. The crowd were, of course, fully behind their man and he made sure to attack first, forcing Endovitskiy to his knees. The next exchange was similar almost resulting in a waza-ari for the Azeri. Endovitskiy then seemed to be baiting Gamzatkhanov's front foot but he wasn't put off by it and attacked again. However, Endovitskiy was building pace and position. He combined an ashi-waza opener with a far-reaching osoto-gari and threw for ippon. There was still applause as the spectators appreciate good judo and good judo it was.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Ki-Young Jeon, Olympic champion and IJF Head Referee Director, Mr Nazim Huseynov, Olympic champion and board member of the Azerbaijan Judo Federation

Bronze Medal Fights (+100 kg)

See also