Many athletes are still finding their feet and after a full weekend of competition, we can say that for many the lack of sparring partners in recent months was not easy to manage. It is one thing to train in the gym and obviously most of the competitors are fit, but doing randori is also a key to being successful in competition. Over the past three days, a judoka goal was to have as many matches as possible, in order to gain some renewed automation. We can undoubtedly say that every single contest was a bonus towards the Olympic Games.
Looking at the results, Russia will have many important decisions to make, as will France, in some weight categories. Talking about France, it's interesting to see that the women once again performed but also the men's team was more in the spotlights than usual. We are used to talking about Teddy Riner, but a young generation is coming up and that is very positive.
Also satisfying, is that several countries did very well. Among them, Switzerland proved to be a good outsider, while Canada confirmed that the work done by Nicolas Gill is paying off.
Turkey comes back from Budapest with 2 gold medals, being ranked third in the medal table. They have used the past months to organise closed training camps. They have a strong group of athletes, both men and women and it works. They were able to adapt to the current situation well.
Other countries such as Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Croatia and Slovenia all won gold medals and put themselves in a position to finish on the podia of the Olympic Games. In total, 25 countries won at least one medal and 35 out of 61 countries registered are going home with at least a top 8 finish. No matter what, judo is a diverse sport and proved once again that it can adapt to any situation.
Today it was difficult to be a world champion, even though they have proved that they are amazing athletes, like Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI, who despite an injury finished third in the men's -90kg.
From an organisational point of view, after these three intense days and under the pressure of the health protocol, we can confirm that Grand Slam Hungary was a success. Dr. Lisa Allan, the IJF Competition Manager, had a special pressure on her shoulders. We met her at the end of the weekend, exhausted but happy, "it was a challenging event. To be honest, all IJF World Judo Tour competitions are challenging, because we always do our utmost to make everything perfect and we always have to adapt to different conditions. The current health situation all over the world made it even more complicated though and we have been working tirelessly for many weeks to make Grand Slam Hungary a success and it was. I can say, for sure, that everything was good here and we want to thank the Hungarian Judo Association for their hard work and excellent collaboration, both before and during the event.
The competition part was excellent, only the Covid measures are new for all of us, so we did what we thought was best. We learned a lot and we will adapt and improve for next time. We have to live with a new reality. Everyone from the athletes of course, to the volunteers, have been committed to making the tournament safe. The feedback from everyone is very positive. We can all be proud of this but we are not complacent. We will monitor our participants over the next two weeks to ensure that our testing procedures were rigorous enough. I want to especially mention the support from our member federations and their respect for the rules and each other. Without their patience and understanding we could not have endured such an experiment. Everyone deserves a huge thank you and a hug (virtual) for their contribution to keeping the judo family safe!"
Congratulations to all the winners and see you soon on the World Judo Tour.
-78kg: Rest Renews Audrey Tcheumeo, who is Back to Frightening Form
The battle is tough within team France to determine who will go to the Olympic Games in a few months. Between the experience and power of Audrey TCHEUMEO, double world medalist and double Olympic medalist and the ardour and technique of Fanny Estelle POSVITE, with a less extensive track record, anything can still happen. Once again, the two women met in the final.
During their last matches, POSVITE had gained the upper hand over TCHEUMEO, with ease on several occasions, but with the a pause in competitions since February, the 2011 World Champion appears refreshed, coming back in force, whereas before Hungary she was the number three on the French selection list. Dominating the whole final, she took the victory on an action which left her uncertain for a few seconds, but which ultimately proved clearly and correctly in her favour. TCHEUMEO can let out a cry of joy, which says a lot about her newfound motivation.
It is difficult in this context, for the other competitors to express themselves fully, as French domination seems important in this category, especially if we add the world number two and reigning world champion, Madeleine Malonga, who was not part of the trip to Budapest. Nevertheless, we can note the fine performances of Natascha AUSMA (NED) and Loriana KUKA (KOS), today’s bronze medalists in the group. Everything remains possible.
POSVITE, Fanny Estelle (FRA) vs. TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA)
Bronze Medal Contests
BABINTSEVA, Aleksandra (RUS) vs. AUSMA, Natascha (NED)
SHMELEVA, Antonina (RUS) vs. KUKA, Loriana (KOS)
1. TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA)
2. POSVITE, Fanny Estelle (FRA)
3. AUSMA, Natascha (NED)
3. KUKA, Loriana (KOS)
5. BABINTSEVA, Aleksandra (RUS)
5. SHMELEVA, Antonina (RUS)
7. STEVENSON, Karen (NED)
7. TURCHYN, Anastasiya (UKR)
+78kg: Gold for Sayit
We were expecting a 100% Brazilian final between Beatriz SOUZA and Maria Suelen ALTHEMAN. It was Tunisian-Turkish confrontation though, that ensued, between Nihel CHEIKH ROUHOU and Kayra SAYIT. It is no less true that these two finalists are regulars at the events of the World Judo Tour and that it was not surprising to find them at this level of performance. Until the semi-finals, the Brazilian confrontation was still possible though, before the other strong nations in the heavyweights, decided otherwise.
Throughout the final, SAYIT seemed able to gain the upper hand over her opponent, without managing to achieve any strong technique to score. For her part, the Tunisian seemed to raise the pace of attack just a little during golden score, to try to win by penalties. However, it was on a false attack by CHEIKH ROUHOU that the final victory was given to the Turkish side.
If Beatriz SOUZA (BRA) and Maria Suelen ALTHEMAN (BRA) wanted to meet in the final, they still met on the podium, since the two Brazilians finished in third place.
CHEIKH ROUHOU, Nihel (TUN) vs. SAYIT, Kayra (TUR)
Bronze Medal Contests
CERIC, Larisa (BIH) vs. SOUZA, Beatriz (BRA)
NUNES, Rochele (POR) vs. ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA)
1. SAYIT, Kayra (TUR)
2. CHEIKH ROUHOU, Nihel (TUN)
3. ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA)
3. SOUZA, Beatriz (BRA)
5. CERIC, Larisa (BIH)
5. NUNES, Rochele (POR)
7. KALANINA, Yelyzaveta (UKR)
7. ZABIC, Milica (SRB)
-90kg: Is a world championship gold a guarantee?
For this first male category of the day, the stage was set; it would be foolhardy not to count on the Russian team. Already very visible since the beginning of the Hungarian weekend, they placed a first man in the final of the -90kg section. Yet with the presence of the last three World Champions, the Serbian Nemanja MAJDOV (2017), the Spaniard Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (2018) and the Dutch Noel VAN T END (2019), we could expect maybe a different country’s entry to the final. Regardless of those world golds, today the two strongmen were Mikhail IGOLNIKOV (RUS) and Altanbagana GANTULGA (MGL), demonstrating how this category remains uncertain, without an overbearing favorite to emerge. The spectacle is total.
And what an ippon Mikhail IGOLNIKOV scored, within 21 seconds against GANTULGA. After having engaged an uchi-mata, he changed the position of his foot slightly and managed to send the Mongolian to the ground, with one of the most beautiful ippons of the weekend.
VAN T END has very special ways to enter tsuri-komi-goshi and Mammadali MEHDIYEV can counter attack and has strong throwing capacities, but for the bronze medal match, the bout ended with a third penalty awarded to the Dutchman for stepping out of the tatami, MEHDIYEV winning by default, not in the most spectacular way.
In the second bronze medal contest, Marcus NYMAN, who is a good thrower but also a ne-waza specialist, immediately tried to bring Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI to the ground, which he did, but SHERAZADISHVILI escaped. The latter looked slightly injured but could still manage to score a waza-ari and then control the end of the bout, despite his damaged knee, showing why he became world champion two years ago.
IGOLNIKOV, Mikhail (RUS) vs. GANTULGA, Altanbagana (MGL)
Bronze Medal Contests
MEHDIYEV, Mammadali (AZE) vs. VAN T END, Noel (NED)
NYMAN, Marcus (SWE) vs. SHERAZADISHVILI, Nikoloz (ESP)
1. IGOLNIKOV, Mikhail (RUS)
2. GANTULGA, Altanbagana (MGL)
3. MEHDIYEV, Mammadali (AZE)
3. SHERAZADISHVILI, Nikoloz (ESP)
5. NYMAN, Marcus (SWE)
5. VAN T END, Noel (NED)
7. BOBONOV, Davlat (UZB)
7. MAJDOV, Nemanja (SRB)
-100kg: Russian Festival Continues
The Russian festival continued, with Niyaz ILYASOV (RUS) and Arman ADAMIAN (RUS) persuading everyone in the category to agree, after a day of strong matches. Aside from the Russian onslaught, like VAN T END, in the lower category, wearing the red backpatch of a reigning world champion was not a guarantee of success. Jorge FONSECA (POR) lost in the semi-final, obviously not yet fully sharpened to repeat his Tokyo feat of 2019.
Having to face a fellow countryman in the final is always complicated, as they know each other so well. After a moment of observation, during a moment on the ground, the two competitors find themselves mirroring one another, neither wanting to release the pressure. It was ultimately Niyaz ILYASOV who took the upper hand to immobilise his opponent on a ushiro-kesa-gatame hold.
We note the disappearance in the preliminaries of Peter PALTCHIK (ISR), who had driven through a very good series at the beginning of the year, before the Covid crisis. We were happy to find Belgian Toma NIKIFOROV at his best, absent from the tatami for many months due to injury and to whom the stop of the circuit seems to have gone well, while Alexandre IDDIR (FRA), whose style is still as attractive as ever, had a good day of competition, to face FONSECA in the bronze medal contest.
This was interesting with the athletes having a similar style, with big throws. If the Portuguese judoka is not known for his capacity to keep the pace for a long time, he's still one of the most powerful throwers and once again he proved it. As the golden score period was just starting, he caught for one second only, the sleeves of the Frenchman and immediately disappeared under him for a beautiful Ippon.
Toma NIKIFOROV can certainly be satisfied to return to this level of competition after such a long absence, but even more certainly, he is not satisfied to have lost to Canadian Shady ELNAHAS, for the bronze medal, on a hip movement of exceptional amplitude. One more medal for team Canada, a team on fire.
ILYASOV, Niyaz (RUS) vs. ADAMIAN, Arman (RUS)
Bronze Medal Contests
IDDIR, Alexandre (FRA) vs. FONSECA, Jorge (POR)
ELNAHAS, Shady (CAN) vs. NIKIFOROV, Toma (BEL)
1. ILYASOV, Niyaz (RUS)
2. ADAMIAN, Arman (RUS)
3. ELNAHAS, Shady (CAN)
3. FONSECA, Jorge (POR)
5. IDDIR, Alexandre (FRA)
5. NIKIFOROV, Toma (BEL)
7. CIRJENICS, Miklos (HUN)
7. SISMANLAR, Mert (TUR)
+100kg: Russia’s men finish as they began
Last but not least, the heavyweight men’s division was again dominated by the Russian team, who placed their two athletes, Inal TASOEV (RUS) and Tamerlan BASHAEV (RUS) in the final. With two gold medals already, prior to the last day of competition, Russia could still mathematically be caught, but after today's demonstration, no other country had a chance to pick up the gauntlet.
What a pleasure to see the heavyweights do ne-waza effectively and spectacularly. This was the case with Inal TASOEV in the final match of the event, after the failure of BASHAEV's dropping seoi-nage technique. Tasoev immediately dived to turn his opponent over and immobilise him. Good work.
During the bronze medal contest between Gela ZAALISHVILI (GEO) and Jur SPIJKERS (NED), we saw something interesting. As ZAALISHVILI had just thrown his opponent and ippon had been called by the referee, the Georgian remained focused and took his opponent with an immobilisation, in case the ippon was changed to waza-ari; a wise reaction from him as we never know for sure. In this case, the ippon was valid.
In the second bronze medal contest, Or SASSON (ISR) seemed to have done the hardest work by continuously attacking Levani MATIASHVILI (GEO), but only seconds from the end, the Georgian scored a small but sufficient waza-ari by countering the Israeli, to join on his compatriot ZAALISHVILI on the podium.
TASOEV, Inal (RUS) vs. BASHAEV, Tamerlan (RUS)
Bronze Medal Contests
ZAALISHVILI, Gela (GEO) vs. SPIJKERS, Jur (NED)
MATIASHVILI, Levani (GEO) vs. SASSON, Or (ISR)
1. TASOEV, Inal (RUS)
2. BASHAEV, Tamerlan (RUS)
3. MATIASHVILI, Levani (GEO)
3. ZAALISHVILI, Gela (GEO)
5. SASSON, Or (ISR)
5. SPIJKERS, Jur (NED)
7. OLTIBOEV, Bekmurod (UZB)
7. SILVA, Rafael (BRA)