Mr Jose Manuel Cortes (ESP) is now an IJF Referee Supervisor, having completed a glittering refereeing career, including world-class work at the Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Today, for day two of the 2024 Qasaqstan Grand Slam the technical analysis is his.

“Before I arrived I was thinking that the level may not be so high just a week before the Abu Dhabi World Championships but actually the level was very high. There are three options for countries selecting judoka to fight here: to try new people for the future, to earn points for qualification or to improve ranking for those already in the list. This brings complexity and energy and an unexpectedly high level.

We know that the level of the women’s teams in Central Asia has been improving for some time but there is not always a big impact, they’re not often at the forefront aside from perhaps Keldiyorova (UZB) and Abuzhakynova (KAZ), neither of whom are competing here. However, following the outstanding gold medal from Tynbayeva on day 1, Tokareva (KAZ) was a whirlwind of excellent all day at -70 kg, earning her place in the final block.

Tokareva (KAZ) in action.

It was great to see Kim Polling fighting with her new flag for the first time, reaching the podium and with great judo that reminds us of the Polling who won world, Masters and grand slam medals as a matter of course. Her uchi-mata against the Swede was among the best of the tournament. She lost to Pina (POR), one of those youngsters we mentioned earlier.

Cvjetko from Croatia and Pina, a judoka who got better and better through the day, came to the final as a big contrast between senior experience and junior power, the Portuguese teen reaching a grand slam final for the first time. Cvjetko may have underestimated her but that won’t happen again and all of the old guard will be on high alert next time Pina’s name appears.

Winner: Tais Pina (POR).

This mix of athletes at different stages of their careers was evident in every category. Galandarzade (AZE), still a junior, fought against Butbul (ISR) and Lombardo (ITA) and gave a very mature and courageous performance. His attitude will serve him well and it is likely we will see him on his first grand slam podium very soon.

Galandarzade (AZE) vs Butbul (ISR).

Ireland is coming! Trigub came close to a medal last week and now Green reaches the final block. Something is going very right for them. It may be a little too late for this Olympic Games but with consistency there might be some strong Irish representation at the Los Angeles 2028 Games. Joshua Green was a surprise but he brought fantastic ne-waza, using juji-gatame expertly, which we can often expect from British competitors. While Green and Galandarzade pushed forward the staple medallists of competitions gone by dropped out, such as Tsend-Ochir and Shamsahyev. Abdurakhmanov had a very good day, all day.

Joshua Green's (IRL) impressive juji-gatame.

At -81 kg we had Muki (ISR), Ungvari (HUN), Fujiwara (JPN), Khubetsov (AIN) and Khalmurzaev (AIN) but they couldn’t get to the medal contests, except the Japanese. We found some who have been missing from the WJT for some time and here they are learning the lesson that the break was too long.

The last point is to applaud the middleweight women’s section of Croatian judo. Even without Matic here, they are performing and we can now say this is usual. They had 2 finals and a bronze medal contest just on day two and that is impressive.”

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