Just before the start of the final block of the second day of the Antalya Grand Slam 2022, the opening ceremony took place at the Antalya Sports Hall, under the eyes of the representatives of the 63 participating countries.
Mr Sezer Huysuz, Turkish Judo Federation President, said, "Dear spectators, dear valued guests, IJF President and to the youth of Antalya, I would like to thank President Vizer for his invaluable contribution. We have been conducting judo events in Turkey for many years. Judo is the most successful sport for Turkey at the Olympic Games. Now we are very honoured and happy to organise this event, which has the highest participation since Tokyo 2020. Once again I want to thank all people who participated in this event, from athletes to referees and coaches, all of whom are preparing for Paris 2024."
Mr Marius Vizer, International Judo Federation President, declared, "Dear President, distinguished guests and dear judo family members, it is a great pleasure to start the judo tour with a big number of athletes. This is a great competition! In this difficult situation in the world, the IJF and the judo family is always promoting and hoping for peace. In our sport, there is no place for war, politics or discrimination. More than ever, humanity today needs solidarity, friendship, unity and peace. The judo community is always promoting these values within society. Congratulations to the Turkish Judo Federation for the organisation and congratulations to all participants. Good health and best regards to all your family members and to the whole judo community. I declare the Grand Slam in Antalya open."
To underline Mr Vizer's speech, just before the final block, he had the honour of receiving a gift from the representatives of the city of Kilis, including Mr Hüseyin Erkmen, Deputy Mayor of Kilis and Mr Öner Buldum, Head coach of the Kilis programme. The IJF has been supporting an important Judo for Peace / Judo for Refugees programme for many years there. Mr Vizer was accompanied by Mr Yavuz Yükselir, Chairman of the Board of Yükselir Group. The IJF will again be present in the Kilis region after the Antalya Grand Slam to keep supporting both the refugees and local population, in coordination with the Turkish Judo Federation.
Antalya is the focal point for many judo projects and also the current grand slam and there is a lot of positive feeling in the area, surrounding it.
By definition, the higher you go in the weight categories, the more power there is at stake. However, this in no way prevents the technical level from being high as well. Thus throughout the day, we were able to attend a very high level show. If there are still small adaptations to be made concerning the new refereeing rules, we can say that they are already perfectly assimilated by the crème de la crème of world judo.
The essential points on which athletes and coaches will have to work in the coming weeks concern the kumi -kata, since the penalties will continue to fall if there is no desire for dynamic construction. We can also still see a few competitors using the head as a support to throw. This is now completely banned. They will have to adapt. This second day of the Grand Slam, however, demonstrated that since January no-one has been idle in the kingdom of high-level judo.
There is still one day left to confirm all this, but there is no doubt that we already know the answer: the third day of competition will also be spectacular.
Women's -63kg: Second Win in a Row for Lucy Renshall
We can say that the Grand Slam of Antalya is a lucky event for the British judoka Lucy Renshall. Already a winner here last year, she qualified again for the final after eliminating the Canadian Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard in the semi-final. Also a winner in Abu Dhabi and Baku last year, Renshall is a real metronome on the international circuit. To challenge her for gold, she found the youth and ardor of Szofi Ozbas (HUN), who discreetly climbs the ladder of international results, since for the first time in her young career she entered the final of a grand slam, having won two bronze medals previously.
After one minute and forty seconds, Renshall imposed her style with a koshi-waza attack, from which Ozbas was close to escaping but not enough to avoid a first waza-ari. Despite the pressure she put on her opponent's shoulder the Hungarian athlete could not score back and the victory went to Lucy Renshall for the second time in a row in Antalya.
The 2019 world silver medallist, Barbara Timo (POR) faced Anriquelis Barrios (VEN), already the holder of four grand slam medals, for a place on the podium. With a waza-ari scored at the beginning of the match, Barbara Timo thought that it would be enough to win but just before the end, Barrios also scored. Time for golden score! Eventually Barbara Timo secured the victory to step on the podium.
The match between Magdalena Krssakova (AUT) and Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (CAN) decided who would complete the podium. With a superb seoi-nage movement, Beauchemin-Pinard took a strong lead to control the match but when everything seemed to be going in one direction only, Magdalena Krssakova executed a powerful o-soto-gari that ruined all Beauchemin-Pinard's efforts. This is the second bronze medal in a grand slam for the Austrian athlete, who was coached by former Olympic champion Yvonne Boenisch, and the first medal of the Austrian delegation here in Antalya.
Men's -73kg: Outsider Terashvili Creates the Surprise
The number one seed Zhansay Smagulov (KAZ) believed in it until the very end, but he was stopped in the semi-final by outsider Giorgi Terashvili (GEO). Pointing to a distant 101st place in the world, the Georgian athlete was certainly not one of the favourites on the morning of this second day of competition. Thwarting all predictions, he faced Manuel Lombardo (ITA), a competitor with a much richer track record, in the final.
It must be said that it was good to see Lombardo in a final again, but unfortunately for the Italian champion, this step against Terashvili was too high today. After having engaged his leg to throw with uchi-mata, the Georgian took a moment to reposition himself and send Lombardo to the ceiling of the venue, for a beautiful ippon. There are no doubts that with this first medal at this level, Giorgi Terashvili won't stay long at his position on the World Ranking List.
After his bronze medal at the Prague European Open, Ido Levin (ISR) had a chance to win his first medal on the World Judo Tour as he was qualified for the bronze medal contest against Salvador Cases Roca (ESP), a finalist at the last Grand Slam Portugal. The first waza-ari came after little more than one minute, from Cases Roca with an o-uchi-gari. By attacking non-stop, Cases Roca had the feeling that he was controlling but actually, he was also taking a risk with false attacks, making mistakes. With a left-handed o-soto-gari, Ido Levin scored waza-ari an equaliser. Golden Score! Having scored with this technique, the Israeli launched it again, but with much less control and dived on his head. He was disqualified and the bronze medal went to Salvador Cases Roca.
In the second bronze medal contest Petru Pelivan (MDA) faced Zhansay Smagulov (KAZ). Smagulov was unable to compete and so the winner of the bronze medal was Pelivan.
Women's -70kg: Gahie Is Back!
2019 world champion Marie-Eve Gahie has been chasing a good result for months but now the long period of scarcity seems over for the one who was unbeatable less than two years ago. Since then there have been doubts and a non-selection for the Tokyo Games in favour of her teammate Margot Pinot who won the Paris Grand Slam in February in the most beautiful way possible. Although the matches were sometimes tight, Gahie nevertheless found the necessary resources and remained focused throughout the morning. In the semi-final she defeated Pinot with a superb tani-otoshi for ippon, without discussion.
In the final, Gahie faced Bernadette Graf (AUT), author of a faultless run during the elimination phase. It didn't take long for both athletes to be in action and during a confused moment, Graf was the first to score with an opportunist’s ko-soto-gake but only a few seconds later, Gahie produced an incredibly strong action-reaction moment that put her opponent totally out of balance. It was fast, it was beautiful and powerful, no chance for Graf and what a great comeback for Marie-Eve Gahie. We'll have to count on her again.
Undoubtedly disappointed with her defeat against Gahie, Margaux Pinot could still be satisfied with a bronze medal but for that she had to pass Miriam Butkereit (GER), which she did brilliantly by applying a juji-gatame for ippon that gave no chance to her opponent. Walking off the tatami, Margaux Pinot took some time to sign autographs for the young judoka present in the venue. This is definitely a good result for the French champion.
In the second match for a bronze medal, Kelly Petersen-Pollard (GBR) faced Maria Portela (BRA) and it can definitely be said that it was difficult for Maria Portela to eventually win but she did so with a really nice set-up concluded with a fast tani-otoshi for waza-ari and the eleventh medal in a grand slam for the Brazilian.
Men's -81kg: Brazil Tops the Medal Podium with Schimidt
The -81kg category once again kept all its promises. With a certain number of big names present such as the illustrious Matthias Casse (BEL), reigning world champion and Saeid Mollaei (MGL), Olympic silver medallist, we knew that everything was possible. In the final, it was eventually Guilherme Schimidt (BRA) and Vedat Albayrak (TUR) who faced off after all the big favourites had to bow out. This was the case for Mollaei in the first round against a Dominic Ressel who was in great shape and Casse against the same German opponent in the repechage.
For Turkey, the presence of Albayrak in the final was important because it crowns a perfect organisation of the event so far. A guaranteed medal to motivate the troops can only do good, but he needed to be aware of the Brazilian competitor who has proven that this could be his day. After two minutes and thirty seconds, Albayrak took the lead with a waza-ari, under the hurrahs of the young public. Everything seemed to be alright for the Turkish champion, but after a confused action, he seemed to forget to keep his arm close to his body; a mistake that Guilherme Schimidt did not let pass. He caught that lonely arm and applied an ude-garami for ippon to take a brilliant victory.
Dominic Ressel can be satisfied with his day because he defeated the best. However, a bronze medal would have concluded his competition perfectly. Facing him was the Uzbek Sharofiddin Boltaboev (UZB) who we know is a formidable medal hunter. In the end it was Boltaboev who won with a superb o-uchi-gari for ippon that should be studied in every judo club, as Boltaboev had everything under control to throw: the timing, the balance, the gripping. All ingredients were there and the Uzbek competitor made something really good out of those.
For the second bronze medal awarded in this category, Abdul Malik Umayev (BEL) was opposed by Hievorh Manukian (UKR), both of whom showed great judo throughout the day. The first dangerous action came from Manukian with a low o-soto-gari but for no score. The second action came from the Belgian judoka, with a speedy seoi-nage for waza-ari. With less than one minute on the clock, Umayev scored his own waza-ari to have a chance to reach golden score, which was the case. With only 16 seconds of extra-time gone, the Belgian produced another nice seoi-nage to score again and win his first medal at that level.