The public believed it almost to the end, thanks to Vazha Margvelashvili, who qualified for the semi-finals after matches that were often tight but well conducted. He still had to make a big effort against Kubanychbek Aibek Uulu (KGZ), a judoka without reference on the world circuit, to hope to go to bed with the gold medal around his neck this evening.
Final, Kubanychbek Aibek Uulu (KGZ) vs Baskhuu Yondonperenlei (MGL)

Unfortunately for Margvelashvili and for the Georgian fans, it was too much and it was finally Aibek Uulu who offered himself a ticket to the last match of the category and the first final of his career at this level.

Gold medallist, Kubanychbek Aibek Uulu (KGZ)

In the second part of the draw, there was a competition in line with expectations based on the world ranking, since the two seeded judoka qualified for their semi-final. It remained to be seen whether Baskhuu Yondonperenlei (MGL) or Bogdan Iadov (UKR) would have the resources to join Aibek Uulu in the final?

Gold medallist, Kubanychbek Aibek Uulu (KGZ)

Yondonperenlei gave Iadov no chance, pinning him down with a superb throw. In the final, we expected to see again Yondonperenlei showing his strength but Kubanychbek Aibek Uulu (KGZ) had something in mind. With an ash I-waza masterpiece he catapulted the Mongolian judo to the ground for an exceptional ippon. It was gold for Kubanychbek Aibek Uulu (KGZ) who will climb a long way up the world ranking ladder with this victory.

Bronze medal contest, Gusman Kyrgyzbaev (KAZ) vs Bogdan Iadov (UKR)

Gusman Kyrgyzbayev (KAZ) and Bogdan Iadov (UKR) battled for the first bronze medal. Kyrgyzbayev was the first to really deliver a proper and strong attack, but to do so he head-dived, which is strictly forbidden for clear and obvious security reasons. Gusman Kyrgyzbayev is a well trained athlete with really good physical capacities and as such he's a role model for the young generation. Head-diving is dangerous and that needs to be carefully monitored. The bronze medal was therefore for Bogdan Iadov.

Bronze medal contest, Matteo Piras (ITA) vs Vazha Margvelashvili (GEO)

Matteo Piras (ITA) had a lot to do with Vazha Margvelashvili (GEO) for the second bronze medal, while the Georgian could count on the support of his public. Despite that support Margvelashvili never seemed in the position to take the advantage. His attacks did not work and Piras did not let his chance pass, countering Margvelashvili for a waza-ari and pinning him down for ippon. About to let his joy explode, his coach, Raffael Toniolo, told him to first get back to his place, to bow, show respect to his opponent and to the referee and after that to celebrate. This is something we are happy to see.

Medal, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Mohammed MERIDJA, Education & Coaching Director of the International Judo Federation and Mr Anzor TENADZE, Well-acclaimed Georgian Judo Coach

More images of the Tbilisi Grand Slam 2023 - CLICK HERE

See also