In our preview for the -100kg category at the Upper Austria Grand Prix we noted the presence of two popular judoka, among the seeded players, who regularly appear on highlight reels thanks to their dynamic and powerful throws: double world champion Jorge Fonseca (POR) and 3-time grand slam medallist and home favourite Aaron Fara (AUT). Fonseca, with his typically explosive entries, calmly and confidently made his way to the final but unfortunately for the home crowd at the Tips Arena, Fara’s time on the tatami was short and not in the good way he is known for.
Final, Jorge Fonseca (POR) vs Leonardo Goncalves (BRA)

Things were looking good after his first contest against Simin (ISR), where he scored two waza-aris in exactly a minute to earn the win, one with a counter and the other with sumi-gaeshi. In round 3 against Louis Mai (GER), he countered a pick-up attempt from his opponent, with a hugging uchi-mata that has become his trademark, to score ippon and send the crowd into a frenzy. Their joy was short-lived, however, as a video review showed that Fara had landed head-first during the technique. Disqualification for the 26-year-old and frustration for the hosts followed.

Gold medallist, Leonardo Goncalves (BRA)

All was not lost for the home team, though, as double grand prix medallist Laurin Boehler stepped up to the plate. The 29-year-old was coming off the back of two gold medals in consecutive European Opens and gave a determined display, defeating Pirelli (ITA) and Sapargaliyev (KAZ), before being stopped by Leonardo Goncalves (BRA) in the quarter-final. Victory over Simeon Catharina (NED) in the repechage meant Boehler would fight for bronze, making him the only Austrian athlete to reach today’s final block.

Goncalves and compatriot Rafael Buzacarini are locked in a tight battle for Olympic qualification for their country, with the former just four places ahead of the latter in the direct qualification spots. Thus, it was vital for both to get a good result at this event. As the 2nd and 3rd seeds, respectively, they were drawn to meet in the semi-final and Buzacarini defeated Japaridze (GEO), Balanta (COL) and Catharina to set up that eye-catching meeting, following Goncalves’ aforementioned victory over Boehler.

Their contest was an enthralling battle, with Buzacarini dominating the standing exchanges and Goncalves coming close to finishing his opponent many times on the ground. Both players tired quickly as the fight entered golden score but it was Goncalves who eventually countered a failed seoi-nage attack from his opponent with yoko-guruma to score waza-ari in the second minute of additional time.

Bronze medal contest, Bojan Dosen (SRB) vs Rafael Buzacarini (BRA)

Fonseca’s path to the final required patience and composure as three of his four preliminary contests went the full four minutes. He scored waza-aris against Islam Bozbayev (KAZ), Soso Ebilashvili (GEO) and Bojan Dosen (SRB) using sode-tsuri-komi-goshi, o-soto-gari and sumi-otoshi, respectively, and each time he defended his score well to win the contest. In his semi-final against the relentless Mathias Madsen (DEN) he employed the sode- once more to score waza-ari in the first minute and later threw with a swift uchi-mata-sukashi to seal the win with 30 seconds remaining.

Bronze medallist, Rafael Buzacarini (BRA)

In the final, it was Goncalves who came out on top, throwing Fonseca with o-uchi-gari to score waza-ari in the opening seconds of golden score. After a workmanlike performance, the Brazilian retains his Upper Austria Grand Prix title, having also topped the podium in Linz in 2023. This marks his 7th grand prix medal overall and with it he extends his lead in the race for the Olympic spot for his country.

Buzacarini and Dosen faced off for the first of the bronze medals. There was little separating the two in the first half of the contest, with Buzacarini picking up two penalties to Dosen’s one. That was until the Brazilian found his opening, dropping underneath his Serbian opponent with seoi-nage and scoring waza-ari. That was sufficient to earn Buzacarini an excellent 13th grand prix medal but he will rue losing ground to Goncalves in the Olympic rankings.

Bronze medal contest, Laurin Boehler (AUT) vs Mathias Madsen (DEN)

Boehler’s opponent in the second bronze medal contest would be Madsen, against whom he had never faced in international competition, and the two put on a show for the 2000-strong crowd in the Tips Arena. Boehler struck first in the 3rdminute of the contest, scoring waza-ari with ura-nage. Madsen quickly levelled the score, throwing the Austrian with soto-makikomi and transitioning straight into a hold-down using ura-gatame. Boehler managed to escape after 5 seconds, and the contest entered golden score, where he threw Madsen with ura-nage once more, scoring ippon and delighting the home crowd. This was Boehler’s first World Tour medal in over 5 years.

Medals, cheques and Linzer torte were presented by Mr Armen Bagdasarov, IJF Head Referee Director, and Mr Walter Hanl, Double Paralympic Champion and Upper Austria Judo Federation Vice President

Final (-100 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-100 kg)

See also