The public came in their numbers to see their hero, Lasha Shavdatuashvili, the man who won everything for Georgia. World number 1, world champion and Olympic champion, he is a legend of Georgian and world sport, a legend still active, who obviously always enjoys being on the tatami, nourished by the encouragement of the public and the simple pleasure of winning. Unfortunately, that was not enough today, eliminated in the quarter-finals by Erdenebayar Batzaya (MGL) with a waza-ari that Shavdatuashvili couldn’t manage to overcome. He had to start a new competition, against himself.
Final, Erdenebayar Batzaya (MGL) vs Obidkhon Nomonov (UZB)

It is in fact in adversity that we recognise the great champions because, even disappointed, Shavdatuashvili qualified for the bronze medal match; we will come back to this.

Gold medallist, Erdenebayar Batzaya (MGL)

In the final, we therefore found Erdenebayar Batzaya, an athlete without reference on the world circuit who, on his way from the quarter-finals, invited himself for the gold medal match, to meet Obidkhon Nomonov (UZB), winner of the Portugal Grand Prix at the very start of the season. He had on this occasion already shown that he could be counted on for the medals. Missing out on his competition at home in Tashkent a few weeks ago, Nomonov has regained the energy to compete among the best.

Pointing at a far off 157th place in the world, Batzaya had an amazing day and had only Nomonov left in his way, no less than the fourth seeded athlete of the day. The normal time ended with one shido apiece. With the golden score, a new final started. Nomonov was penalised a second time, giving some hope to Batzaya, but then the Mongolian athlete was also penalised, looking totally exhausted. But it was written that today was his day and that everything was possible. Throwing his last forces into the battle, he produced a beautiful ko-soto-gari/tani-otoshi hybrid for ippon. This is what we love about sport and about judo. Today it was the underdog who won and he did it after having defeated all the big names.

It should be noted that the current world champion Tsogtbaatar Tsend-Ochir (MGL) was quickly eliminated in round two by Kote Kapanadze (GEO).

Bronze medal contest, Lasha Shavdatuashvili (GEO) vs Mark Hristov (BUL)

Despite his disappointment, Lasha Shavdatuashvili (GEO) qualified to fight against Mark Hristov (BUL) to potentially reach the 30th podium of his career on the World Judo Tour, all this without taking into account his three Olympic medals and his world title. We told you, this man is a legend. The advantage of having a Georgian competitor on the mat definitely was to raise the sound level in the venue and with the presence of Lasha Shavdatuashvili, it produced even more effect.

Lasha Shavdatuashvili (GEO)

It was not an easy match for the champion because he had a great opponent. We will remember that today was indeed the 30th World Judo Tour medal for Lasha Shavdatuashvili after he scored waza-ari with a soto-makikomi. We want also to underline that if he is a legend because of his results, it is also because he is gracious in victory but also in defeat. Today he had to show both sides and he did amazingly well. Bravo!

Bronze medal contest, Kote Kapanadze (GEO) vs Salvador Cases Roca (ESP)

For the last place on the podium, we had to wait for the result of the match between Kote Kapanadze (GEO) and Salvador Cases Roca (ESP), the public hoping for a second medal in this category. Salvador Cases Roca is well known for his ne-waza skills. Kapanadze could escape it for most for the bout, harvesting some penalties along the way, but the last ne-waza sequence was too much and Cases Roca pinned him down for ippon.

Medal, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Vlad MARINESCU, Director General of the International Judo Federation and Mr Tamaz NAVERIANI, Vice President of the Judo Federation of Georgia and Former Member of Parliament

More images of the Tbilisi Grand Slam 2023 - CLICK HERE

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