Day one of the IBSA Grand Prix Heidelberg 2024 began with the opening ceremony of the event where both the Vice President of the German Disabled Sports Association and National Paralympic Committee of Germany, Dr Karl Quade, and IBSA Chairman, Mr Janos Tardos addressed the crowd.

Dr Quade said, “We offer a warm welcome in Heidelberg, a city with a very good history in Paralympic sport. I remember the first Paralympics taking place here in Heidelberg in 1972. We also send a very special welcome to all athletes, teams, representatives of IBSA, the International Judo Federation, the European Judo Union, and the German Judo Federation. We must thank the federal government, regional government, the city of Heidelberg and all other sponsors who support the event. I hope all the athletes will have a very good competition here and their wishes come true and I hope they will represent their countries at the Paris Paralympic Games.”

Mr Tardos said, “On behalf of the IBSA Judo committee, thank you very much to the local organisers, the national Paralympic committee and all the international and local staff. We begin the last three events in preparation for the Paris Paralympic Games and athletes are fighting for a spot to go to Paris. With the changes after Tokyo, we are stronger than ever. I wish good fights, good luck and all the best for everybody.”

Shortly after the ceremony, the first hajime was called and from that moment onwards we witnessed kindness, outstanding sportsmanship, focus, a few upsets and plenty more smiles, all of which were accompanied by a high standard of judo. As for the home crowd, all eyes were on Lennart Sass (J1 -73kg) who, being from Heidelberg, has won gold on his doorstep.

J1 -48kg Final NIKOLAYCHYK, Nataliya (UKR) vs TASIN CAVDAR, Ecem (TUR)

Bronze medal contest LARASSATI, Novia (INA) vs LEDESMA DURE, Rocio Silvana D (ARG) HANGAI, Shizuka (JPN) vs MULLER, Anna Tabea (GER)

Final Results 1. NIKOLAYCHYK, Nataliya (UKR) 2. TASIN CAVDAR, Ecem (TUR) 3. LEDESMA DURE, Rocio Silvana D (ARG) 3. HANGAI, Shizuka (JPN) 5. LARASSATI, Novia (INA) 5. MULLER, Anna Tabea (GER)

One of the bronze medal contests saw Argentina’s Ledesma Dure securing a waza-ari score within the first minute. She continued controlling most of the exchanges before throwing Larassati for ippon with a brilliantly timed ko-soto-gake. Meanwhile, on the adjoining mat, near half time Hangai of Japan launched an o-soto-gari which fell just short of scoring, however, not long later she did earn a waza-ari and ended matters In ne-waza against Muller of Germany.

The final saw two judoka with outstanding transition skills, Nikolaychyk (UKR) and Tasin Cavdar (TUR). At the end, skilful transition followed by a juji-gatame allowed the current world champion to celebrate another gold-medal-winning performance.

J1 -60kg Final BANITABA KHORRAM ABADI, Seyed Meysam (IRI) vs DE OLIVEIRA, Elielton (BRA)

Bronze medal contest ZHU, Shiwen (CHN) vs VIEIRA, Miguel (POR) BORGES, Henry (URU) vs PARMAR, Kapil (IND)

Final Results 1. BANITABA KHORRAM ABADI, Seyed Meysam (IRI) 2. DE OLIVEIRA, Elielton (BRA) 3. ZHU, Shiwen (CHN) 3. BORGES, Henry (URU) 5. VIEIRA, Miguel (POR) 5. PARMAR, Kapil (IND)

Zhu (CHN) has been dedicated to his tomoe-nage actions throughout the day and it paid off on more than one occasion, including in his bronze medal contest against current world champion Vieira (POR).  2023 Tokyo Grand Prix winner, Borges (URU) span off of an uchi-mata attempt and countered world bronze medallist Parmar (IND) with an ouchi-gari alloweing Uruguay to celebrate a bronze medal too.

The final saw a lot of effort from Para Pan American Games winner, De Oliveira (BRA), however former world champion Banitaba Khorram Abadi (IRI) confirmed a win within the first minute of the contest.

J1 -73kg Final BOLOGA, Florin Alexandru (ROU) vs SASS, Lenart (GER)

Bronze medal contest GAUTO, Eduardo (ARG) vs SHAMEY, Yergali (KAZ) GALBADRAKH, Chuluunsukh (MGL) vs IAFA, Djibrilo (POR)

Final Results 1. SASS, Lenart (GER) 2. BOLOGA, Florin Alexandru (ROU) 3. SHAMEY, Yergali (KAZ) 3. IAFA, Djibrilo (POR) 5. GAUTO, Eduardo (ARG) 5. GALBADRAKH, Chuluunsukh (MGL)

Approaching the last minute of the bronze medal contest, Shamey (KAZ) had picked up two penalties and with that came the pressure of having to be more active and attack. The pressure turned into positive energy as with 45 seconds left, Shamey stunned Gauto (ARG) for ippon. Iafa’s (POR) tomoe-nage skills were simply too much to handle for Galbadrakh (MGL) during the other bronze medal contest.

World and European champion Bologa (ROU) was undefeated in 2023. Today, world bronze medallist Sass (GER) was ready to break the routine and in the final dominated the Romanian judoka, initially with a top right sided grip. As the pair approached the last minute of their clear contest time, Sass scored for waza-ari before ending with his ne-waza skills. It was the first time Sass had defeated Bologa.

J2 -48kg Final NAUATBEK, Akmaral (KAZ) vs LI, Liqing (CHN)

Bronze medal contest LIU, Yi (CHN) vs EKE, Cahide (TUR) BRUSSIG, Carmen (SUI) vs KOKILA (IND)

Final Results 1. NAUATBEK, Akmaral (KAZ) 2. LI, Liqing (CHN) 3. EKE, Cahide (TUR) 3. KOKILA (IND) 5. LIU, Yi (CHN) 5. BRUSSIG, Carmen (SUI)

Eke (TUR) overcome Liu (CHN) by doubling up on her kata-guruma, scoring waza-ari twice, winning bronze. Eke was only two spots outside of the qualifying and with double points at stake, she is certainly a step closer to her Paris dreams. A tight head-to-head went on between Brussig (SUI) and Kokila (IND). Although neither judoka managed to score, penalties were given to both, a third and final penalty for Brussig resulting in a bronze for India.

World champion Nauatbek (KAZ) scored with her astonishing ne-waza skills within the first 9 seconds of the final against Li (CHN). Li bounced back with a tai-otoshi to even up the score board. Half way through the contest, Nauatbek decided to display her ne-waza skills and took victory following an osae-komi from which Li did not manage to escape.

J2 -57kg Final WANG, Jianan (CHN) vs HIROSE, Junko (JPN)

Bronze medal contest KUDO, Hiroko (JPN) vs ARCE PAYNO, Marta (ESP) ARAUJO, Lucia (BRA) vs KHODJAEVA, Kumushkhon (UZB)

Final Results 1. WANG, Jianan (CHN) 2. HIROSE, Junko (JPN) 3. ARCE PAYNO, Marta (ESP) 3. KHODJAEVA, Kumushkhon (UZB) 5. KUDO, Hiroko (JPN) 5. ARAUJO, Lucia (BRA)

It only took 20 seconds for former double Paralympic medallist Arce Payno (ESP) to win bronze against Kudo (JPN). Ten seconds later, on the adjoining mat, world silver medallist Khodjaeva (UZB) also fancied a win as she defeated Para Pan American Games champion Araujo (BRA).

The final was steady but shortly before the end, Wang (CHN) received a second penalty, which once again turned out to be positive pressure as she overcame Hirose (JPN) at the beginning of golden score. The winning score came via a well-timed seoi-nage.

J2 -60kg Final SHIRINLI, Vugar (AZE) vs KHORAVA, Davyd (UKR)

Bronze medal contest NAMOZOV, Sherzod (UZB) vs OULDKOUIDER, Ishak (ALG) GAVILAN LORENZO, Luis Daniel (ESP) vs LEE, Min Jae (KOR)

Final Results 1. KHORAVA, Davyd (UKR) 2. SHIRINLI, Vugar (AZE) 3. NAMOZOV, Sherzod (UZB) 3. GAVILAN LORENZO, Luis Daniel (ESP) 5. OULDKOUIDER, Ishak (ALG) 5. LEE, Min Jae (KOR)

Namozov (UZB) started the day as top seed, however, he fell short of glory. He won bronze instead when throwing world bronze medallist Ouldkouider (ALG) for ippon within the first minute. The other bronze medal contest went on slightly longer, yet European silver medallist Gavilan Lorenzo (ESP) was constantly dominating against Lee (KOR). With two waza-ari scores, the Spanish team was able to applaud for another bronze medal.

Shirinli (AZE) walked out for the final with his gold backnumber, making a statement. Current European champion Khorava (UKR) was not put off by that at all and although the contest went into golden score, it was Khorava who made the Paralympic champion tumble over for waza-ari.

J2 -73kg Final SAYIDOV, Feruz (UZB) vs SETO, Yujiro (JPN)

Bronze medal contest KIM, Donghoon (KOR) vs BAREIKIS, Osvaldas (LTU) KURANBAEV, Uchkun (UZB) vs MAHOMEDOV, Rufat (UKR)

Final Results 1. SETO, Yujiro (JPN) 2. SAYIDOV, Feruz (UZB) 3. BAREIKIS, Osvaldas (LTU) 3. KURANBAEV, Uchkun (UZB) 5. KIM, Donghoon (KOR) 5. MAHOMEDOV, Rufat (UKR)

Bareikis (LTU) favoured tomoe-nage for the day and it was with that very same technique that he flattened Kim (KOR) during their bronze medal meet. Both, Kuranbaev (UZB) and Mahomedov (UKR) were cautious, however, with just under two minutes to go, they both came in close, hooking onto a ko-soto-gake. It was a matter of time before one of them would fall and on this occasion, Kuranbaev was able to balance himself better, landing on top of his opponent for bronze.

During the last final of the day, we saw Seto displaying his rather impressive o-uchi-gari skills. He troubled Sayidov (UZB) more times than one can count before finding the right time to complete his move for an ippon score.

Images © Ralf Kuckuck, DBS

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