Serbia struck a blow at -48kg by qualifying their two athletes for the final. In the first half of the draw, the favourites struggled to line up the wins. Thus Abiba Abuzhakynova (KAZ), seeded number one, lost in her first match, while Narantsetseg Ganbaatar (MGL) passed two rounds, but lost against the first Serbian finalist, Milica Nikolic. It must be said that Nikolic is not really an unknown, since a few weeks ago she was also a finalist in Paris, during the 2023 edition of the French grand slam and she is currently ranked 10th in the world.
Final, Milica Nikolic (SRB) vs Andrea Stojadinov (SRB)
Gold medallist, Milica Nikolic (SRB)

The presence of her team-mate in the final, Andrea Stojadinov (SRB), was therefore more surprising, but on closer inspection, she is currently on a notorious upward trajectory. Although, ranked 21st in the world, Stojadinov was not seeded in Tbilisi, showing the level of the competition, but she arrived from a flamboyant victory in Tashkent less than three weeks ago and with a seventh place in her pocket from Portugal at the start of the season, enough to put her in trust.

Having two athletes of this level for Serbia is therefore obviously a good thing for their results, one pushing the other in a positive dynamic. It's never easy to compete against your teammate and it is even more difficult now that all points are counting towards Olympic qualification. Only one of them will go to Paris next year. Today, it was Nikolic who took the advantage, after Stojadinov was penalised a third time in the allotted 4 minutes. It remains a really good result for the Serbian team, even before the final of the -57kg final was fought by compatriot Perisic.

Milica Nikolic (SRB) and Andrea Stojadinov (SRB)
Bronze medal contest, Narantsetseg Ganbaatar (MGL) vs Francesca Milani (ITA)

Narantsetseg Ganbaatar (MGL), accustomed to being in fifth place lately (World Judo Masters 2022 and Tel Aviv Grand Slam 2023), offered herself a new chance to reach the podium, competing against the Italian Francsca Milani (ITA), second in Baku last year. If the first part of the bout seemed a little closed, neither of the athletes being able to apply any efficient technique, suddenly Ganbaatar went under the centre of gravity of her opponent and made her spin at a high speed with a sode-tsuri-komi-goshi, executed with perfect momentum for ippon and a bronze medal. This time the Mongolian judoka can bring the medal back home and this is well deserved.

Bronze medal contest, Laura Martinez Abelenda (ESP) vs Abiba Abuzhakynova (KAZ)

Laura Martinez Abelenda (ESP) and Abiba Abuzhakynova (KAZ) battled for the second bronze medal. With a massive pick-up, Abuzhakynova scored the first waza-ari of the match to take a strong lead, but there was still a long way to go. With just over a minute left, Abuzhakynova was close to scoring again but she did not really get the 90° landing, so no score. Despite the pressure brought by Martinez Abelenda, Abuzhakynova kept her score alive and won the bronze medal.

Medal, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Vladimir BARTA, Head Sport Director of the International Judo Federation and Mr Giorgi ATABEGASHVILI, President of the Georgian Judo Federation

More images of the Tbilisi Grand Slam 2023 - CLICK HERE

See also