The home team had 3 entries in the category. As is stated in the rules, each nation can register two athletes per category except the host who can include up to 4 per weight.

Of the three, 2 made it right the way through a tough draw to meet in the final. From Saeid Mollaei, world champion and Olympic medallist, Zelim Tckaev with no medals at either but 4 grand slam medals, and 20 year old Omar Rajabli who is at 115th place on the senior World Ranking List and has a bronze medal from the 2023 European Championships Juniors on his record, which two do you think came through?

Rajabli (AZE) in action.

Gauthier-Drapeau (CAN) was the number one seed in Baku but he lost to unseeded Georgian Dvalashvili in round two, who then in turn lost to Rajabli (AZE) for a place in the quarter-final. Rajabli went on the win that contest too, seeing off Gramkow (GER) with a makikomi at just over a minute into golden score. Rajabli then had Olympic medallist Shamil Borchasvili to contend with in his semi-final and not meaning to give away part of the ending but Rajabli won that too!

A place in the final for Rajabli (AZE).

In pool C, number 2 seed Mollaei began well against Hebib (BIH) but against Gerbekov (BRN) he couldn’t keep the momentum. Thirty seconds into golden score Askerbii Gerbekov threw Mollaei with a seoi-otoshi for waza-ari, eliminating the host’s Olympic medallist from the group.

Mollaei's win over Hebib (BIH).

Gerbekov continued to have an outstanding day, reaching the semi-final with great determination. There though, he met Tckaev and he had been on explosive form from the first round. As number 3 seed it wasn’t unexpected but it was impressive! Against Gerbekov he employed a sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi first and then took a second waza-ari with a sumi-gaeshi. This set up an all-Azeri final.

Tckaev (AZE) throwing Gerbekov (BRN) in the semi-final.

The first bronze was set to be won by either Gramkow (GER) or Gerbekov (BRN). Both have had a great day but ultimately the throwing ability of Gerbekov was on point today and with an unstoppable ko-soto-gake he ploughed Gramkow into the mat for bronze.

Gerbekov caps an outstanding day with an ippon for bronze.

De Wit (NED), beaten by Gerbekov in the quarter-final, faced Shamil Borchashvili (AUT) for the second bronze medal. It was the former who took the windespite great positivity from both fighters. He scored ippon with a huge, full body o-uchi-gari that left Borchashvili in 5th place.

De Wit (NED) throws for ippon to take the bronze.

Inside the last minute of what had been a real yo-yo of a final, with both Azeri judoka giving everything for the gold medal, it was Tckaev who was finally able to score, entering with an uchi-mata that Rajabli could not escape from.

Respect first...
...throws next.

Final (-81 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-81 kg)

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Michael Michaely, Chairman of CEDCO Hungary, and Mr Natik Bagirov, Advisor to the President of the Azerbaijan Judo Federation, world and double European medallist
See also