The top three seeds in the +100kg category at the Upper Austria Grand Prix 2024 were all former world champions. Andy Granda (CUB), Guram Tushishvili (GEO) and Lukas Krpalek (CZE) all sit comfortably within the direct qualification places for the Paris 2024 Olympics, so arrived in Linz looking to improve their rankings and work towards a seeded position at the Games. The other entrants had their work cut out if they wanted to make it onto the podium and sure enough, the top seeds dominated the proceedings.
Final, Andy Granda (CUB) vs Lukas Krpalek (CZE)

With Tushishvili and Krpalek in the same half of the draw, a repeat of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic final was on the cards. The two athletes worked hard to give judo fans what they wanted. Tushishvili defeated Mane (GBS) in round 2, twice throwing with tsuri-goshi. He then threw Krikbay (KAZ) in round 3 with a low o-uchi-gari which scored waza-ari, enough to see him through. In his quarter-final with Dzhamal Gamzhatkhanov (AZE), he employed ippon-seoi-nage and ko-uchi-gari to score two waza-aris and confirm his semi-final spot.

Gold medallist, Lukas Krpalek (CZE)

Meanwhile, Krpalek scored ippon against Antoniou (CYP) using his favourite sumi-gaeshi in round 2. He applied ude-gatame expertly to turn over and hold Vracar (SRB) in round 3, before submitting him with juji-gatame. Against Balyevskyy in their quarter-final, he used a combination of sumi-gaeshi and tate-shiho-gatame to score waza-ari-awasete-ippon and join Tushishvili.

Gold medallist, Lukas Krpalek (CZE)

Their semi-final did not disappoint. The Georgian put the Czech man under pressure in the standing exchanges from the outset; Krpalek struggled to keep up with the pace and picked up two shidos in normal time. On the ground, however, Krpalek was typically dangerous, but Tushishvili defended well in every exchange. Tushishvili’s explosive attacks meant he tired quickly, however, in the second minute of golden score Krpalek took his chance, attacking initially with o-soto-gari before following through with uchi-mata-makikomi to score a dramatic ippon and send the large Czech contingent in the crowd into a frenzy. Another day, another World Tour final for Krpalek.

Granda’s path to the final was much smoother but no less impressive. He threw Solis (CHI) with a beautiful sode-tsurikomi-goshi for ippon just over a minute into their round 2 contest. Under pressure on the edge of the area against Evgeny Shmachilin (ISR) in their quarter-final, he threw the Israeli with a clean uchi-mata-makikomi to score ippon once more.

Bronze medal contest, Evgeny Shmachilin (ISR) vs Guram Tushishvili (GEO)

A tactical victory over a spirited Losseni Kone (GER) in their semi-final set up a meeting with Krpalek. The two have only fought once before on the IJF World Tour, in the final of the Cancun Grand Prix way back in 2018. There, Krpalek emerged victorious in a close contest, so Granda had a score to settle.

The two fighters were evenly matched in the standing phases, but it was Krpalek’s superior ne-waza skills that made the difference in the final. Following a strong attack from Granda, Krpalek latched onto the Cuban’s outstretched arm and applied juji-gatame to submit him in the 3rd minute of the contest. An elated Krpalek let out a roar as he stood up; despite all his success he was clearly overjoyed to win a phenomenal 6th grand prix gold medal.

Tushishvili came up against Shmachilin in the first bronze medal match. The Georgian needed only one minute to secure his 4th grand prix medal, throwing his opponent with uchi-mata to score waza-ari, before pinning the Israeli down using yoko-shiho-gatame to secure the win. It was not only a solid performance from Tushishvili but also a career-best finish for the world-ranked number 130 Shmachilin.

Bronze medal contest, Dzhamal Gamzatkhanov (AZE) vs Losseni Kone (GER)

The second bronze medal contest was a showdown between Gamzatkhanov and Kone. The German initially struggled to deal with the much bigger Azeri, with several of his sumi-gaeshi attacks landing him in trouble on the ground. Gamzatkhanov was unable to capitalise, however, and in the final minute of the contest, Kone produced arguably the throw of the tournament. His opponent stepped across with o-soto-gari, and Kone loaded him onto his hips and sent him flying through the air using utsuri-goshi, a technique seldom seen at the highest level. That beautiful ippon landed the German his second grand prix medal. What a way to do it.

Medals, cheques and Linzer torte were presented by Mr Vladimir Barta, IJF Head Sport Director, and Mr Thomas Stueckler, Austrian Judo Federation Board Member

Final (+100 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (+100 kg)

See also