We asked Udo Quellmalz to tell us about his technical impressions after day 2 of the Kazan Grand Slam 2021 in Russia.

The number one comment I want to make is that out of 12 matches in the final block 11 finished with a positive score. This is amazing and it shows that positive judo is the target and it works.

My second comment concerns the Russian team. What a team! Having the grand slam taking place here is a perfect showcase of what Russian judo is capable of. Yesterday and today, they came with experienced athletes but also very young ones who performed. When you are the host of an event, you are allowed to align four athletes per weight category. Some countries struggle a bit. Once they have engaged 1 or 2 top players, then it's difficult to find more athletes who are capable of performing, but in Russia, it's incredible. They have four athletes and all four of them are capable of winning. They are a mix of veterans and young competitors and all together it creates a really powerful team.

It's interesting also to see that some of the Russians who are here are not really well known, but they arrive from far away in the world rankings and they win medals. This is another illustration of the capacity of the country to produce top class judo players.

I was a bit surprised by the unexpectedly poor performance of ARAI at -70kg. I mean, poor is relative, because she finished third. That was definitely not what she was hoping for though. I'm sure that she will now go back to work and adjust what needs to be adjusted and then arrive in Tokyo at full capacity. 

On a non-technical note, I want to underline what I felt when I saw the video during the opening ceremony. Watching those young children talking about judo is really an inspiration for all of us. Judo is so special! Take the final of the -73kg, between the two young and relatively unknown Russians. They delivered one hell of a match, putting everything into it, but once the referee announced mate-soremade, both athletes showed total respect. This is simply judo and it makes it so different from any other sport.

Throughout the first two days we could feel the pressure rising as we approach the World Championships and the Olympic Games. Some athletes desperately need points, others need confidence. This creates a really tense atmosphere, but I like it. 

The -81kg category is impressive. There are now at least ten athletes who can honestly win the Olympics and nobody is capable of saying who it will be. Today it was Ungvari's day. Whose day will it be in Tokyo or even Budapest?

I'm going back to the Russian team now, which really impressed me. Madina TAIMAZOVA, who won in -70kg, is always looking tired, on the edge of breaking down and then suddenly she produces movement that no-one sees coming. She defeated ARAI, which is really something and once again in the final she won. This young generation is very promising and I'm looking forward the last day of competition in Kazan.

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