Giorgi Sardalashvili (GEO) has arrived in the top 5 in the world at -60kg, almost from nowhere. At 19 years old and with no senior ranking until October 2021, when he became junior world champion, his rise to the top, like the very best cream, has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Final, Giorgi Sardalashvili (GEO) vs Turan Bayramov (AZE)

With the junior worlds offering grand prix points, he rode with his gold medal for many months before competing at his first senior event, only a year ago. Since then he has been placed in the top 5, usually on the podium, at every event entered, including winning the gold in Abu Dhabi 5 months ago. The teenager is collecting points as easily as he might collect baseball cards.

Gold medallist, Turan Bayramov (AZE)

In Tbilisi, as number one seed and having won the silver 12 months ago, he approached the day with his usual untameable style, finding scores when under fire and cementing the evidence for his position repeatedly. Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine all lost good judoka at the hands of Sardalashvili today and the final against Bayramov (AZE) was one the Georgian was not willing to lose.

The bronze medal contests were fought in uniforms and with coaches standing back, one medal match between two Kazakhs and one between two Ukrainians, Lesiuk being one of them. He had brought disappointment to the home crowd when he threw Chkhvimiani for ippon on the repechage final, ensuring only one Georgian would reach the podium in this category.

The all-Kazakh contest very nearly went to blue, to Seilkhan, early on after a ko-soto movement with a secondary drive through the hands almost scored. It was waved off and a minute later, after a barrage of different attacks from blue, Shamshadin, in white, put three strong attacks together and finished with a ko-uchi-gake for a waza-ari. This was not an easy score to hold on to and the two continued to make every effort to throw. This was a really entertaining match, an excellent display of positivity, quite remarkable considering how well they know each other. The score stood and decided the contest.

Bronze medal contest, Magzhan Shamshadin (KAZ) vs Kanat Seilkhan (KAZ)

The second bronze medal was less energetic. Despite a number of attacks from each and no penalties earned by either in normal time, there was a distinct lack of finish and it became like a mobile stalemate. In golden score Khalmatov picked up a couple of penalties but it didn’t seem to have an impact as both continues in the same way. At almost 4 minutes of extra time Lesiuk managed to secure a landing and won the medal.

The final was a highly anticipated affair. It was dynamic from the first second but it was Azerbaijan who felt the closeness of victory first with a waza-ari scored from an incredibly fast seoi-nage at half time. Sardalashvili’s response was to counter in the next exchange and in a way that can only be felt and rarely taught, evening up the match. Shortly after, Bayramov turned in and an enthusiastic Sardalashvili almost climbed on his back, full of fighting spirit. This did not pay off and the Azeri capitalised, turning further and rolling the Georgian far enough and with enough control to earn a clear second score and the gold medal.

Bronze medal contest, Artem Lesiuk (UKR) vs Dilshot Khalmatov (UKR)

At 19 and 20 years old these two young athletes gave us much to enjoy and much to think about. Their attacking style can be the template for all as it fulfilled every brief. The host nation didn’t get the colour they wanted but two silvers from two appearances in Tbilisi isn’t a small thing. Bravo to both of these competitors. Bayramov leaves with his first ever gold from a grand slam.

Medal, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Shengeli PITSKHELAURI, Deputy Head of the State Security Service of Georgia and World Bronze Medallist and Ms Tina TRSTENJAK, Refereeing Supervisor, Olympic, World & 3 times European Champion

Final (-60 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-60 kg)

More images of the Tbilisi Grand Slam 2023 - CLICK HERE

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