Day one in Antalya concluded with Japan far and away the dominating nation of the tournament, leading with three gold medals ahead of Canada in second place thanks to Deguchi’s win at -57 kg. Day two is on the way, coming fast and there is much to look forward to.
Hifumi Abe (JPN) was unshakable on day one.

There are two world champions in the -73 kg category but one is a junior, Vusal Galandarzade (AZE), and one is a senior, Nils Stump (SUI). Following their paths in Antalya could be interesting!

This is the junior world number one’s 3rd grand slam effort and this time his teammate and senior world number one Heydarov is not present. Galandarzade has ahead of him a manageable draw with potential wins available against Nakano (PHI) in the first round and subsequent contests yet to be decided but with Bahrain, Costa Rica and Cyprus in the mix, all smaller judo nations, their is an opportunity for him to start laying the ground work for his Los Angeles campaign.

Galandarzade (AZE) loves to throw big! Oldivelas, 2023.

Nils Stump’s route to a medal in Turkiye looks to be partially carved too as he sits at the top of pool D. Could the two champions meet later in the day? Is Galandarzade going to be a worthy successor for Heydarov?

-73 kg is not the only category that holds interest. At -63 kg, just as Deguchi demonstrated at -57 kg on day one, Beauchemin-Pinard begins her day at the top of the draw and arrives interior on the back of two previous finals. She won gold in Tbilisi just a week ago and silver in Baku before that. Hitting back-to-back competitions and taking medals at all shows strength, fitness, mental toughness and consistency that should stand as a warning to all opposition. She should make it to the semi-final largely unscathed but there things could get more tricky. Timo (POR) and Quadros (BRA) await her in pool B.

Tbilisi Grand Slam gold for Beauchemin-Pinard (CAN).

No matter who wins the first semi-final, it is likely they will face a determined Takaichi (JPN) in the final. It is unlikely anyone can stop her from channelling a route to gold even, beyond just reaching the final. Renshall (GBR), at the top of pool D, has never beaten her. The Brit has some good results but struggles against the Japanese. She will also have to get past an ever-improving Piovesana (AUT) in order to reach that semi-final. The Austrian is dangerous for everyone, Takaichi included; throwing from anywhere, unafraid to grapple, to employ pace and to face any opponent from a position of assumed equality; everyone knows the rules and everyone trains for the win and that’s how she approaches every contest.

It was Piovesana (AUT) who took out the Canadian in Baku.

At -81 kg Japan continues to impress with their entry alone. Olympic champion Nagase will be looking to prove his fitness and capability having not won a gold medal since that wonderful day in Tokyo in 2021. He’s won medals but not of the colour required to satisfy his goals. The Japanese have not brought their number one to Antalya in the -70 kg category. Nagase will want to boost the Japanese lead at the top of the medal table, perhaps alongside Takaichi.

Nagase (JPN) winning gold at the 2021 Olympic Games.

Tune in to JudoTV for whole-day coverage and trace the Japanese campaign and the response to it from the rest of the world.

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