Ziad Maafi is a key member of the IJF IT Team and in Dushanbe he is seconded specifically to support the referee replay system. This means he sees a lot of judo and in great detail. The technical analysis of the final day of the Dushanbe Grand Prix is his.

“For a first edition of the event there is a good number of competitors. We can see many athletes who are new to participating at this level. We don’t have all the highest level players here as they don’t need these points and sometimes they do need rest periods, especially after the world championships and for some of them there was Linz too.

Some judoka ranking 50-100 in the world mixing with a handful of world medallists produces many ippons but a lot less ne-waza, especially today, than we have become used to seeing at the higher level events. I did see one particularly good shime-waza from Turaboev (UZB) in the round of 16 at -100kg. He applied an incredible sode-guruma-jime against the British competitor, but unusually it was with the head and arm caught and not just the neck as is more traditional. You have to hit the exact position and be very strong to be able to execute such a technique but he did it with confidence and has clearly worked on it." You can see it here:

"The -78kg category left us with no surprises at all, four top seeds making it to the medal matches with the number 1 and 3 reaching the final. Wagner applied strong and beautiful attacks including her very graceful uchi-mata.

At +78kg we found a German, Samira Bouizgarne, fighting for the first time for a World Judo Tour medal. She was not seeded and must have come as a big surprise for her opponents, including number 3 seed Tina Radic (CRO). This is her 14th appearance on the Tour without so much as a placing but today she pulled it all together.

Bouizgarne (GER) in Dushanbe

Also in this category, the number 8 seed Tulika Maan (IND) beat the number 1 by ippon on her way to eventually lose the semi-final but then fight for a bronze medal. Just like the German in the final, she has fought at 13 WJT events and also 4 senior world championships and this is her first ever competition finishing in the final block. India are making some big changes and of course Linthoi Chanambam won the cadet world championships last year and really made people sit up and take note.

Tulika Maan (IND) throwing the number one seed for ippon

At +100kg the 1st and 3rd seeds made it to the final but in the semi-final Temur Rakhimov, the home favourite and world number one, had to pass Mirmamadov (TJK) and it was his first time on the Tour. He did an amazing job getting to the semi-final and then fighting for a bronze medal at his first Tour outing. Rakhimov won all contest except the semi-final with positive scores, which was good for the crowd.

Endovitskiy (AIN) also lost to Rakhimov but I noticed he had great ashi-waza and really tried to use them very well. Against a lower ranked opponent he may well have given us something wonderful to watch. Next time…

Rakhimov wins against Endovitskiy

One athlete I want to mention particularly is Ustopiriyon (TJK) at -90kg. He won every contest in golden score, including the final. All were with positive scores except the semi-final but what is most interesting is that all were won around the one and a half minute mark, 2 minutes in the final, into the golden score period. He has a special confidence with his conditioning and also with his great bank of experience; he was very intelligent about his judo. His preliminary rounds were with opponents aged 19, 23 and 21 while and he is 30 and at this level it’s possible that experience really widened the age gap.

Ustopiriyon (TJK) came prepared to win at home

My last mention is for Eljan Hajiyev (AZE) sitting way, way down at 308 on the ranking but that is for a simple reason; this is only his second time at -90kg. He’d reached number 20 in the world at -81kg but made the move and so has to start again. Today he reached the final. He was -81kg last in Tbilisi this year, only weeks ago. Reaching the final block after his first run out in Linz last week is really impressive.”

Hajivey throwing world medallist Egutidze (POR) at the Tbilisi Grand Slam in March 2023, -81kg
See also