Four categories were competing today and the minimum we can say is that we attended a great judo show. There have been favourites who have won, outsiders who have risen up and new-comers who have appeared. As in every tournament of the World Judo Tour, there were disappointments, competitors who were expected and who have not yet re-found their feet. There have also been returns to the front of the stage, like the return to an international podium of Saeid MOLLAEI. We expected him, we wished for him and he did it. Well done, champion!
At -63kg, it was imperative to be part of the world ranking to hope for a place on the podium. The Olympic champion Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO) was the best at this little game. In -70kg, the title seemed at first to be for the reigning world champion, Marie-Eve GAHIE of France, but it was a day without stability for her. MATIC (CRO) took advantage of this in a superb way.
Among the men, ORUJOV was imperial at -73kg, even if he found a tough opponent in the final and Vedat ALBAYRAK of Turkey coaxed everyone to agree in -81kg, that he was the best in a stunning field.
This evening Russia remains at the top of the ranking of nations with the two gold medals of the first day, followed by seven countries which now have at least one gold medal. France can be happy with two bronze medals for their men; one yesterday and one today. Those medal-winners are newcomers who bring nee energy for the French delegation. Canada has three athletes on the podium so far, polishing all three metals: gold, silver and bronze. This will be a nice group shot for Nicolas GILL's group.
We will wait until the last day to draw up full conclusions, but already with 21 medal-winning countries, we can say that Grand Slam Hungary, given the circumstances, is a great success.
What a pleasure we have had to follow the competition since yesterday. Starting tomorrow, 11 am, the heavyweight categories will be on the tatami. Athletes, officials and staff will still be able to sleep an hour longer, due to the winter time change. It will not be superfluous.
This second day of the Grand Slam was also the occasion to officially open the event.
During the ceremony, Dr. Gergely Gulyás, a Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office declared, “Dear Mr. President Vizer, Dear Mr. President Toth, distinguished members of the International Judo Federation and dear athletes; to welcome you to the home of the IJF presidential office, after having welcomed you previously in 2017 for the World Championships, is truly an honour for us all in Hungary. Friendly and serious competition after a long period of training is always a celebration. Now we have the pleasure to see the best athletes gathered here fighting for glory. Sport teaches us about endurance, camaraderie and even ourselves. If you compete at the highest level, you need a team around you to perform better, after having dedicated most of your life to reach your peak performance. This level of commitment makes you humble and determined and earns respect and admiration from us. Sport and sporting events have a powerful impact on society. Unfortunately in this challenging time, an important part of the sporting event is missing. It was hard to imagine that the best athletes had to compete in an empty arena, without the life support of their friends, but I am certain that all of them are following this event from home. We can only hope this is temporary and we can get back to following IJF events in stadia full of life, filled with cheering supporters. Allow me to athank you in the name of Hungary and the Hungarian government, to be the host of this fantastic competition. I wish you good luck for the finals."
Then Dr. Laszló Tóth, the President of the Hungarian Judo Assocation, addressed all the delegations and organisers present, welcoming them warmly, before Mr. Marius Vizer, IJF President said, “Dear Mr. Minister Gulyás, dear Mr. President Sergey Soloveychik, Mr. Laszló Tóth, dear judo family members, guests and volunteers, it is a great honour to restart the judo activity after a few months of pause. I understand the emotion of judokas, coaches, referees, during this long period, but beginning with this event we reaffirm and start again with the enthusiasm and the spirit of our sport. I want to specially thank the Hungarian government for the support in organising lots of great sporting events in Hungary, for the support to move our IJF head office to Budapest. I want to thank and congratulate the Hungarian Judo Federation for the partnership to organise this great event. Even without spectators the spirit of judo is here. I wish you a successful competition. All the best to all of you. Stay safe and see you soon in the next events.“
-63kg: Seeding Rings True
Among the four highest seeds of the Grand Slam, in this category, three of them made the semi-finals, which shows how, despite the interruption of the circuit for such long months and the absence of the world number one, Clarisse AGBEGNENOU (FRA), the world hierarchy has been respected. The only anomaly was the Venezuelan Anriquelis BARRIOS, although she was one of the top 8, pushing at the doors of the final to face the obvious Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO), the reigning Olympic Champion.
It was a great performance from Tina TRSTENJAK, who showed that despite the pause and the unusual circumstances of the restart, she is in very good condition. Never in danger throughout the day, she confirmed that next year in Tokyo she will again be one of the favourites. In less than two minutes, she took the measure of her opponent in the final, turned her on to her back, took the time to free her leg, and immobilised her. It's simple, it's effective and that then brought a new gold medal at a big event on the World Judo Tour.
What a superb performance from OZBAS Szofi (HUN), who is still a brown belt and the 2019 Junior World Champion and Youth Olympic Games winner. She defeated the experienced Catherine BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD (CAN) with two waza-ari. It is a very interesting result for the home country, Hungary and for the new generation. The second bronze medal went to Russian Daria DAVYDOVA, after having defeated the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Ketleyn QUADROS of Brazil. This may be another transmission from one generation to an other.
TRSTENJAK, Tina (SLO) vs. BARRIOS, Anriquelis (VEN)
Bronze Medal Contests
OZBAS, Szofi (HUN) vs. BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD, Catherine (CAN)
QUADROS, Ketleyn (BRA) vs. DAVYDOVA, Daria (RUS)
1. TRSTENJAK, Tina (SLO)
2. BARRIOS, Anriquelis (VEN)
3. DAVYDOVA, Daria (RUS)
3. OZBAS, Szofi (HUN)
5. BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD, Catherine (CAN)
5. QUADROS, Ketleyn (BRA)
7. KRSSAKOVA, Magdalena (AUT)
7. OZDOBA-BLACH, Agata (POL)
-70kg: France Has a Choice to Make while Matic Tops the Podium
Marie-Eve GAHIE (FRA), with the red backnumber of a reigning world champion, was a terrifying scarecrow in the category. After a little fright during the first contest where she was countered by Serafina MOSCALU (ROU) for a waza-ari, she resumed the path of victory. However, she didn’t take into account the determination of Barbara MATIC (CRO), who eliminated the Frenchwoman in the next round. With that momentum, the Croatian then eliminated the current world silver medalist, Barbara TIMO (POR), the same Timo who lost to GAHIE in Tokyo last year. So, it was a beautiful day for MATIC. In the final she faced Gahie’s team-mate, Margaux PINOT, who continues to believe that she could go to the Olympic Games next year. Nothing is finalised yet and the choice for the French federation won't be easy.
PINOT did not really take advantage of GAHIE's bad day as in the final, on an overly strong push from the Frenchwoman, MATIC took the opportunity to throw her with a soto-makikomi, which was awarded waza-ari. The Croatian had a really good day, earning her quite a pot of points.
Marie-Eve GAHIE looked a little uncertain today, swinging between an attitude totally in line with her world champion status and the next second, risking being knocked down by any of her opponents. The French champion still has a few months to regain serenity. What is certain is that she will not leave Budapest with a bronze medal, this one going to the Austrian Michaela POLLERES (AUT). The 2nd bronze medal went to the world silver medalist, Barbara TIMO (POR) who, after 2 minutes of golden score, threw PEREZ with a combination of sode-tsuri-komi-goshi and ko-uchi gari for ippon.
MATIC, Barbara (CRO) vs. PINOT, Margaux (FRA)
Bronze Medal Contests
GAHIE, Marie Eve (FRA) vs. POLLERES, Michaela (AUT)
PEREZ, Maria (PUR) vs. TIMO, Barbara (POR)
1. MATIC, Barbara (CRO)
2. PINOT, Margaux (FRA)
3. POLLERES, Michaela (AUT)
3. TIMO, Barbara (POR)
5. GAHIE, Marie Eve (FRA)
5. PEREZ, Maria (PUR)
7. NIANG, Assmaa (MAR)
7. PORTELA, Maria (BRA)
-73kg: Orujov, Almost Perfect
Rustam ORUJOV (AZE) does not need to be introduced. Twice a silver medalist at the World Championships, silver medalist at the last Olympic Games and winner of the World Judo Masters, he is currently second in the world ranking list and here in Hungary he was seeded number one. The Azeri did not disappoint as he blasted his way to the final where he found the Swiss fighter Nils STUMP, whose track record is far from that of his opposition. This place in the final nevertheless makes it possible to underline the good health of Swiss Judo, which was on display yesterday too, with a silver from Fabienne KOCHER and a fifth place from Evelyne TSCHOPP, both in - 52kg, leaving Switzerland at 5th on the medal table.
In the final, only a few second were needed for ORUJOV to deliver brillant stuff with a superb o-uchi-gari. Initially announced ippon, it was downgraded to waza-ari, offering another chance to watch the class of ORUJOV. This though was the time STUMP decided to change the rhythm, to score a surprising waza-ari on a counter attack. The magic of judo is that nothing is ever written in advance. The dynamic of the final changed completely with the full involvement of the Swiss judoka, pushing ORUJOV to his limits. It was only in the last thirty seconds that the Azeri finally managed to initiate a sumi-gaeshi for a liberating second waza-ari.
The work of Nicolas GILL, head coach of team Canada, continues to pay off, with the third place of Arthur MARGELIDON, who sent Musa MOGUSHKOV (RUS) to the mat, thanks to a timely driving o-uchi-gari after 2 minutes of golden score. The surprise came from the second bronze medal match, with the defeat of Tommy MACIAS (SWE) eliminated by Petru PELIVAN (MDA) who has so far only climbed to 126th place in the world ranking and with no record on the World Judo Tour. This is not the case any more.
ORUJOV, Rustam (AZE) vs. STUMP, Nils (SUI)
Bronze Medal Contests
MOGUSHKOV, Musa (RUS) vs. MARGELIDON, Arthur (CAN)
PELIVAN, Petru (MDA) vs. MACIAS, Tommy (SWE)
1. ORUJOV, Rustam (AZE)
2. STUMP, Nils (SUI)
3. MARGELIDON, Arthur (CAN)
3. PELIVAN, Petru (MDA)
5. MACIAS, Tommy (SWE)
5. MOGUSHKOV, Musa (RUS)
7. REITER, Lukas (AUT)
7. TURAEV, Khikmatillokh (UZB)
-81kg: When the Phrase ‘World Class’ Really Means World Class
It is not fair to highlight one category more than another, because all athletes deserve the same attention, as the efforts are the same regardless of the weight. However, with the presence of the world number 4, Vedat ALBAYRAK of Turkey, the world and Olympic medalist Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN), the reigning Olympic Champion Khasan KHALMURZAEV (RUS) and the 2018 World Champion Saeid MOLLAEI (MGL), the -81kg group was particularly generous to its spectators on the occasion of this grand slam. The semi-final between the Mongolian and the Canadian will be logged as a reminder of the bravery of competition, with the two athletes giving everything they could to win. Last year in Tokyo, it was MOLLAEI who won, but this time it was VALOIS-FORTIER. Today’s victor met the number one seed in the final, having seen him eliminate the Olympic Champion. What a level!
In the end, Vedat ALBAYRAK (TUR) achieved the perfect finish. Dominated by the Canadian, even if the latter had been penalised twice, the Turkish fighter, as the golden score loomed, threw VALOIS-FORTIER with a massive ko-soto gari, immediately followed by an immobilisation for ippon.
With Saeid MOLLAEI, you always have to expect everything. In the semi-final, he narrowly missed out on passing the VALOIS-FORTIER obstacle. In the bronze medal contest, re-focussed, the 2018 World Champion, with his ability to attack in all directions and in sometimes strange positions, produced one of the most beautiful moves of the day; a harai-tsuri-komi-goshi for ippon, in the face of the DE WITT (NED) bulldozer. The second bronze medal was a surprise, as Olympic Champion, Khasan KHALMURZAEV, was thrown for ippon with a superb drop-sode-tsuri-komi-goshi, by Nicolas CHILARD, offering a second bronze medal for the French men's team.
ALBAYRAK, Vedat (TUR) vs. VALOIS-FORTIER, Antoine (CAN)
Bronze Medal Contests
DE WIT, Frank (NED) vs. MOLLAEI, Saeid (MGL)
CHILARD, Nicolas (FRA) vs. KHALMURZAEV, Khasan (RUS)
1. ALBAYRAK, Vedat (TUR)
2. VALOIS-FORTIER, Antoine (CAN)
3. CHILARD, Nicolas (FRA)
3. MOLLAEI, Saeid (MGL)
5. DE WIT, Frank (NED)
5. KHALMURZAEV, Khasan (RUS)
7. BORCHASHVILI, Shamil (AUT)
7. IVANOV, Ivaylo (BUL)