In our preview for the -100 kg category at the Dushanbe Grand Slam 2024, we noted that Canada’s Kyle Reyes needed a good result in order to close the gap on his counterpart Shady Elnahas in the race for Olympic qualification. Reyes’ hopes of topping the podium were dashed early on, however, by the number eight seed and 3-time WJT medallist Daniel Eich (SUI).
Final, Daniel eich (SUI) vs Gennaro Pirelli (ITA)

Reyes and Eich both started their day well, the former throwing Zelimkhan Bashaev (BRN) for ippon in just over a minute in round 2, and the latter throwing Isaac Bezzina (MLT) and Niiaz Bilalov (AIN), the silver medallist here last year, to progress. The two met in the quarter-final and Eich initially struggled to get close to Reyes but around the halfway point in the contest, the Swiss world number 24 produced a brilliant sasae-tsurikomi-ashi to tai-otoshi combination to score an emphatic ippon. Reyes gave Eich a nod of acknowledgement as the two shook hands; he couldn’t be too upset at being thrown so cleanly.

Final, Daniel eich (SUI) and Gennaro Pirelli (ITA)

Next up for Eich in the semi-final was the hosts’ Dzhakhongir Madzhidov (TJK), who had been on exceptional form himself. He threw all of Aswin Pandari Chandran (IND), fourth seed Nurlykhan Skarkhan (KAZ) and bronze medallist here last year Zlatko Kumric (CRO) by ippon scores to advance through the preliminaries. It was a fascinatingly open contest with very few calls of “mate” from the referee in the first four minutes, and no shidos awarded to either player. 30 seconds into golden score Eich finally found a way through the Tajik’s defences, lifting him off the ground and scoring ippon with a superb uchi-mata from the front.

In the bottom half of the draw, all four seeded players won through to their respective quarter-finals but it was the surprise Tokyo Grand Slam 2022 winner and seventh seed Gennaro Pirelli (ITA) who would eventually join Eich in the final. The Italian survived an early scare against Jonghoon Won (KOR), going down by waza-ari to a tai-otoshi from the Korean within the first 40 seconds of the bout, only to respond 12 seconds later with a quick seoi-otoshi to score ippon.

Bronze medal contest, Toma Nikiforov (BEL) vs Dzhakhongir Madzhidov (TJK)

A tactical victory for Pirelli over Avtar Singh (IND) in round 2 set up a quarterfinal with Gonchigsuren Batkhuyag (MGL), the winner of his home grand slam in Ulaanbaatar in 2023. Another seoi-otoshi earned the Italian a waza-ari after one minute and he held off the Mongolian to head to the semi-final, where he would face the second seed and 3-time grand slam medallist Dzhafar Kostoev (UAE). The typically explosive Kostoev struggled to get close to Pirelli to launch his big attacks and the Italian picked his moments to score two waza-aris two minutes apart with two more seoi-otoshi attacks, to reach his second grand slam final.

In the final, Pirelli was consistently the first to attack in the opening exchanges and Eich quickly picked up two penalties to Pirelli’s one. Though Eich came back into the contest and put the Italian under pressure with some strong attacks, a third and final penalty for stepping out of the contest area handed Pirelli his second grand slam gold medal.

Bronze medal contest, Kyle Reyes (CAN) vs Dzhafar Kostoev (UAE)

Kostoev faced Reyes for a place on the podium. The Emirati athlete was all over the Canadian from the get-go and took just 49 seconds to throw him with tani-otoshi for an assured ippon. Kostoev will be content with a fourth grand slam medal as he builds momentum ahead of his home world championships in Abu Dhabi in two weeks’ time. Reyes will have to lay it all on the line at those championships if he is to have any chance of catching Elnahas in the Olympic rankings.

Madzhidov took on sixth seed and 8-time grand slam medallist Toma Nikiforov (BEL) to decide the second bronze medal. The Belgian had progressed through the repechage after Batkhuyag had to concede due to a leg injury 30 seconds into their match. Buoyed by the crowd, Madzhidov went ahead with only one penalty to Nikiforov’s two after making stronger and more consistent attacks. In the final minute, the Tajik fighter countered a poor dropping attempt from the Belgian to score waza-ari with hikikomi-gaeshi with only 17 seconds remaining. Madzhidov held on to earn his second grand slam bronze medal, to the delight of the home crowd.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Naser Al Tamimi, IJF General Treasurer, and Mr Rasul Boqiev, Olympic and world bronze medallist

Final (-100 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-100 kg)

See also