The Antalya Grand Slam 2022 concluded today with the last five categories: Women -78kg and +78kg and men -90kg, -100kg and +100kg. Without a doubt it was a great success both from an organisational point of view and from a sport perspective.

Sezer Huysuz is the passionate Turkish Judo Federation President who has been following almost all the matches of the 2022 edition of the Antalya Grand Slam. A former athlete himself who competed on the international scene, he has judo running through his veins, "I miss being on the tatami of course and will always miss that adrenaline and excitement but today my role is different. As the President of the Turkish Federation, I can say that I am happy, because the Antalya Grand Slam went well and it is a great success. I have seen really good judo. I must say that I want more results for our national team, but we are in the process of building a team to be ready and successful in Paris 2024."

The Antalya Grand Slam has been on the World Judo Tour calendar for many years and "This event is getting stronger and stronger. We are really happy with that. I know that all delegations appreciate coming here. There is a really high quality of judo. Especially this year, I saw beautiful ippon scores and positive judo. Of course, because of the Covid pandemic, we were still lacking the public, but this will improve in the future. We still have to do everything possible to guarantee the safety of all participants. The Antalya Grand Slam is a fantastic development tool for judo here in Turkey and everywhere in the world."

Without the support of the IJF, things would be more difficult. "The IJF has been supporting us for so many years. Thanks for all the efforts of President Vizer and his team; his is so important to us. I can say that the collaboration between our Federation and the IJF is excellent."

Sezer Huysuz, Turkish Judo Federation President

With the Antalya Grand Slam coming to an end, it's time to draw some conclusions. There will always be work to do and we will keep improving. We know that in the years to come, we will have to welcome even more competitors and we are ready for that. From a sport point of view, we have to build a strong team if we want to perform in Paris, two years from now. Everything we are putting in place is done with that in mind. We need more results. We have strong support from the Turkish authorities and this helps a lot. Beyond the sport itself, there is also a huge cultural dimension that we want to promote. Judo is not only about medals. As I said, it is about the culture that the sport can bring to society. We want to concentrate on the art of judo, on peace."

What is happening in Kilis, for instance, is so important, "The project in Kilis, that we are leading together with the IJF, is what it's all about. If you look at the world right now, you will see a lot of wars and conflicts, a lot of social disorders. In Kilis, thanks to judo, we help the youth in their rehabilitation; we give them a home and tools to face the future. It is with this kind of project that we can have a positive impact on everyone's life."

This is an ambitious programme, but there is no doubt that the Turkish Judo Federation is ready to meet the challenge. In the meanwhile, the third day of competition took place in Antalya and there is much to say about the five categories that were in action.

Men's -90kg: Morales Wins for Cuba

The -90kg category looked like a game of slaughter for the favourites of the day. Krisztian Toth (HUN), the number one seed, after a promising start, lost to Ivan Felipe Silva Morales (CUB), the future winner. In the upper part of the draw, we will remember the beautiful matches of Tristani Moshakhlishili Mamalashvili, who was competing for the first time under the colours of Spain and who could well be talked about in the years to come... to be continued.

Among the other favourites eliminated were Li Kochman (ISR), beaten by Rafael Macedo, and Komronshokh Ustopiriyon (TJK) beaten by Luka Maisuradze (GEO), the eventual silver medallist. Finally, let us mention Mihael Zgank (TUR) defeated in the first round when he had hoped to shine in front of his public.

It was a match of strong men that we witnessed in the final. It's only at the beginning of the last minute, that the first penalty was given to Morales for passivity but a few seconds later both were penalised. Time for golden score. The physiognomy of the contest did not change and clearly, at any time, the victory could go to one side or the other. After one last 50:50 attack, Felipe Morales eventually threw Maisuradze for ippon.

In the first bronze medal contest Krisztian Toth (HUN) faced Jesper Smink (NED). After a long and close match, Toth won the bronze medal, the tenth for the Hungarian champion and the first as a coach for Miklos Ungvari who retired as an active judoka last year.

For the second bronze medal, Louis Krieber Gagnon (CAN), coached by Antoine Valois-Fortier, was opposed by Rafael Macedo (BRA). Louis Krieber Gagnon was penalised twice and had to take some risks but the risk with taking risks is often too risky and this was the case with the Canadian judoka. Attacking the back leg, Rafael Macedo launched a powerful low o-soto-gari for a perfect ippon.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko, Vice President of the International Judo Federation and President of the African Judo Union and Mr Ersen Odaman, Board Member of the Turkish Judo Federation

Women's -78kg: Mental Victory for Wagner

The last few months have not been easy for Madeleine Malonga (FRA). A second place at the 2021 worlds, then a silver medal at Tokyo 2020 and finally a third place last February in Paris would satisfy many but for the French champion, this is not enough and especially when it’s compared to her domination in 2019 during the World Championships in Tokyo. Even today, although seeded number one, she had to bow out in the semi-final against Guusje Steenhuis (NED). The return to her best level will therefore have to wait a little longer. For the Dutchwoman on the other hand, everything seemed to smile on her towards the final, where she was opposed by the 2021 world champion, Anna-Maria Wagner (GER). The latter has revealed to us the difficulties she encountered after obtaining her world title and Olympic medal. It is clear that this mental ordeal seems to be perfectly overcome. She said she would come back when she felt good and obviously she does.

Being less active than her opponent, Guusje Steenhuis received a first shido for passivity. Halfway through the Dutch judoka was penalised a second time for stepping out of the tatami. It is with that two shido difference that the golden score period began. The next shido was for Anna-Maria Wagner. Four minutes into golden score, Wagner was penalised a second time. The next shido or throw would determine the winner. Six minutes of golden score were almost reached, when suddenly Wagner countered Steenhuis with a powerful ura-nage for ippon. This is a beautiful mental victory for the German champion.

With one rep already in the final block, the Netherlands doubled their lead as Natascha Ausma qualified for the bronze medal contest against the veteran Luise Malzahn (GER), a match that the Dutch won with a waza-ari scored early on via a clever change in direction.

These two have been rivals for several years and contribute to the emulation of the category in France and once again Madeleine Malonga and Audrey Tcheumeo were supposed to find themselves on the tatami to compete for a medal, bronze this time, but Malonga couldn't compete and therefore the medal went to Tcheumeo.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Naser Al Tamemi, General Treasurer of the International Judo Federation and Mr Kaya Gezeker, Director of the IJF Military & Police Commission and Advisor of the Turkish Judo Federation President

Men's -100kg: Unbeatable Fonseca Tops the Medal Podium

It becomes a habit, a good one for him, less pleasing for others; once again, the double world champion Jorge Fonseca (POR) qualified for the final. The Portuguese judoka always impresses. A real unbreakable block, he shows incomparable power while being a fine technician, often perfectly placed. This combination of strength and technique makes him close to unbeatable. An important question nevertheless was on everyone's lips before the final, since we were happy to find Nikoloz Sherazadishvili (ESP) there. Which world champion would prevail? Since his change of category, the Spanish -90kg world champion has struggled, not finding his marks and being quickly eliminated in Portugal and Paris. From his first matches today, we felt that it was a new Nikoloz on the tatami. Precise, powerful and incisive, he passed one round after another without shaking, to face the Fonseca wall in the final.

We know that Jorge Fonseca is a showman and he proved it again in the final but in a very respectful way. Immediately in action against Nikoloz Sherazadishvili, he forced the Spanish champion to be penalised twice. The power of Fonseca seemed unstoppable and it actually was. Smaller than his opponent, he didn't hesitate to attack the back leg to make Sherazadishvili react and drop under the centre of gravity for a seoi-nage masterpiece for ippon. Today there are two world champions in the final; one won and it was Fonseca, who seemed more and more unbeatable.

Rafael Buzacarini (BRA) produced effective judo to qualify for the first match for a bronze medal against Aleksandar Kukolj (SRB). Just before the last minute, Kukolj took the lead with a tani-otoshi for waza-ari, an advantage that he kept until the end of the match to win the medal, the sixth medal in a grand slam for the Serbian judoka.

For the second bronze medal we found an old regular in the final block, Elmar Gasimov (AZE), against the young Kyle Reyes (CAN). Reyes was very close to scoring, but the following action was to the credit of Gasimov, with a massive harai-goshi for ippon. It's been a while since we saw Gasimov on a podium m. The last time was in Düsseldorf in 2020, when he was a finalist.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Dr Lisa Allan, Events Director of the International Judo Federation and Mr Yavuz Gürhan, Director of Sports of the Antalya Region

Women's +78kg: First Gold for Fontaine in Antalya

We can no longer say that Raz Hershko (ISR) is one of the underdogs. Competition after competition, she gains confidence and gives herself a chance to get on the podium. After a serious and flawless run, she qualified for the final against Léa Fontaine (FRA) who had defeated her own teammate Julia Tolofua in the semi-final. It's very interesting to see that France is again present in the final in this category, already dominated by another Frenchwoman, Romane Dicko, absent in Antalya. There is a real judo school for +78kg in France and the results show.

After a first shido given to Hershko for false attack, it was Fontaine's turn to be penalised for passivity twice, as the Israeli athlete was attacking non-stop to compensate for the difference in size. Even though she tried very hard, she could not avoid being pinned by an opportunist Fontaine, on the floor. This is the first medal in a grand slam for the French competitor.

Julia Tolofua, defeated in the semi-final, had to settle for the smaller final against Adiyasuren Aarsaikhan (MGL). Less than a minute was needed for Tolofua to win with an immobilisation for ippon.

In the second match for a bronze medal, Marit Kamps (NED) faced Renee Lucht (GER). However, as the latter could not participate, the medal went to Marit Kamps.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Florin Daniel Lascau, Head Referee Director of the International Judo Federation and Mr Metin Ozkan, Advisor to the President of the Turkish Judo Federation and Member of the EJU Referee Commission

Men's +100kg: Tushishvili Wins Again

Alisher Yusupov (UZB) was not among the favourites of the competition, but Ilias Iliadis' protege had a perfect run through the preliminary rounds and qualified for the final against former world champion and Olympic silver medallist, Guram Tushishvili (GEO). With his beard trimmed, the Georgian powerhouse seemed fitter at the beginning of the competition than in Tel Aviv in February, even if he won that event. Step by step, facing strong opponents, he seemed a bit nervous. Eventually he qualified for a new World Judo Tour final, proving that he remains one of the big names in the category.

It took less than a minute for Alisher Yusupov to score a first waza-ari with sumi-gaeshi combined with a clever change of direction. That score didn't stop the Uzbek, who a little later delivered a second waza-ari, but that was unfortunately cancelled. Unfortunate is the word for Yusupov, as Guram Tushishvili then did what he does best, throwing for ippon with a dropping tsuri-goshi. Even when he is in danger and maybe not on top form, the Georgian champion finds the resources to change the course of history. The story was that he could have been defeated, but he won, superbly. After Tel Aviv, Guram Tushishvili wins again.

It's been a long time since we've seen a French heavyweight at such a party, apart from the legend Teddy Riner of course. We must therefore pay tribute to the competition day of Joseph Terhec (FRA), who qualified for the bronze medal contest against Temur Rakhimov (TJK). Rakhimov was too tall, too strong and too technically good though. With superb preparation, Rakhimov launched an uchi-mata that didn't leave any space for escape; ippon and a bronze medal.

For the last third place in play in Antalya it was Andy Granda (CUB) and Richard Sipocz (HUN) who faced off. The golden score period was necessary to determine the winner. Three more minutes were needed for Granda to score waza-ari with a circular o-uchi-gari, that offered him the third grand slam bronze medal of his career.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Armen Bagdasarov, Head Referee Director of the International Judo Federation and Dr Turgay Demiray, Member of the EJU Medical Commission and the Turkish Medical Commission
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