That's it, the Kazan Grand Slam has just ended. It was the last grand slam of the restarted season, the apotheosis of which will be the 2021 World Judo Championships in Hungary and of course the Tokyo Olympics, before the world circuit returns to normal after the summer. But, we are not there yet.

The weeks to come therefore promise to be crucial. Soon, 386 athletes will have confirmation of their qualification for the Olympic Games. For the others, some will retire from competitive sport and some will focus on the Paris 2024 Games, in just three years. Time flies quickly, probably even faster now that we are approaching summer.

Kazan was not just a test, but one more step for a world circuit which has regained a certain normality, adapted to the situation. Judo is alive and well! The whole judo family can be satisfied with the work accomplished and can maintain the optimism that has prevailed in Russia in recent days. Everything is in place for the next World Championships to be a great success. The athletes are more and more sharp and the organisers are preparing meticulously. In a month's time we will know the new world champions and we will be ready to celebrate them, as they must celebrate too.

Thank you Kazan for the fantastic show that was offered to us and thank you to all the actors in the world of judo. There are no small roles, but only passion and commitment, to ensure that sport and judo in particular remain the bridges that they are, between peoples and generations.

-90kg: MURAO in Style for Japan Third in the World Judo Masters, Eduard TRIPPEL (GER) appeared very fit throughout the morning. Precise and impactful, he won all his matches by ippon, until the final, where he was met by the only Japanese man entered into the event, alongside the three women who competed on the first two days of competition, winning two gold and one bronze medal, respectively.

MURAO was the first in action, with an opportunist ko-uchi-gari, but for no score. A few seconds later it was TRIPPEL's turn to be close to scoring but MURAO escaped by turning over his opponent without even touching the floor. A handful of seconds later, the Japanese judoka executed the perfect attack inside the attack of TRIPPEL, to score a textbook ippon with a left handed uchi-mata.

Axel CLERGET (FRA), who was injured in Doha in January, returned to the forefront by qualifying for the first bronze medal contest, after a serious elimination stage, as he was only stopped in the quarter-final by the German TRIPPEL, who left him no chance. To reach the podium, CLERGET was up against Georgian Luka MAISURADZE, bronze medallist at the last European Championships in Lisbon. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, an old injury woke up during the beginning of the match and with this handicap he couldn't produce his best judo and was thrown for waza-ari before MAISURADZE caught him with an immobilisation for ippon. Let's hope for CLERGET that it is not too serious. Approaching the end of his career, he has to manage not only his preparation but also his body and this is not always easy.

23rd in the world rankings and with a bronze medal in Antalya earlier in the season, Li KOCHMAN (ISR) found himself facing the 2017 world champion, Nemanja MAJDOV (SRB), for the second bronze medal. The first two minutes went very fast, with the two athletes putting a lot of effort in to break the distance and throw, but without any success. The match continued in a similar rhythm, even if some penalties were distributed, two for MAJDOV, one for KOCHMAN, that would be important in the golden score period. 1 minute and 53 seconds into extra time was when MAJDOV proved to be an extraordinary champion, after a situation which could have gone either way. He finally pinned down KOCHMAN for ippon. This was definitely a tough day at the office for MAJDOV, but he can be satisfied with a well deserved bronze medal.

Medal, flowers and prize money were presented by Mr Vladimir Barta, Head Sport Director of the International Judo Federation, and Mr Khalil Shaikhutdinov, First deputy Minister of Sport of the Republic of Tatarstan

Final TRIPPEL, Eduard (GER) vs. MURAO, Sanshiro (JPN)

Bronze Medal Contests CLERGET, Axel (FRA) vs. MAISURADZE, Luka (GEO) KOCHMAN, Li (ISR) vs. MAJDOV, Nemanja (SRB)

Final Results 1. MURAO, Sanshiro (JPN) 2. TRIPPEL, Eduard (GER) 3. MAISURADZE, Luka (GEO) 3. MAJDOV, Nemanja (SRB) 5. CLERGET, Axel (FRA) 5. KOCHMAN, Li (ISR) 7. IGOLNIKOV, Mikhail (RUS) 7. JANDREEV, Shermukhammad (UZB)

-78kg: WAGNER on Top The winner of the Tel Aviv Grand Prix on 18th February and seeded number one here, Anna Maria WAGNER (GER) qualified for a new grand slam final, where she found the Dutch fighter Natascha AUSMA, another regular in the finals of the world circuit, with a special gold at the Tbilisi Grand Slam on 26th March.

It did not take too much time for Anna Maria WAGNER to score a first waza-ari on the edge of the competition area, immediately followed by an immobilisation for ippon.

Third in the 2018 World Championships, Aleksandra BABINTSEVA (RUS) offered herself a new chance for a medal, after several failures this year, against Anastasiya TURCHYN (UKR), also settling into a rather disappointing rhythm at the start of the season. One of them was going to be happy to finally win a medal in 2021. BABINTSEVA scored first with the counterattack but TURCHYN quickly rebutted and scored a waza-ari with o-uchi-gari, that she copied and pasted a few seconds later for a second waza-ari to win that bronze.

Twelfth in the world and on the circuit for many years, the German Luise MALZAHN had to be content with the possibility of a bronze medal, against Karla PRODAN (CRO), finalist in Tashkent this season. The German scored a waza-ari that she held until the end to win her 34th medal on the World Judo Tour. This is very impressive.

Medal, flowers and prize money were presented by Mr Armen Bagdasarov, Sport Director of the International Judo Federation, and Mr Vladimir Leonov, Minister of Sport of the Republic of Tatarstan

Final WAGNER, Anna Maria (GER) vs. AUSMA, Natascha (NED)

Bronze Medal Contests BABINTSEVA, Aleksandra (RUS) vs. TURCHYN, Anastasiya (UKR) MALZAHN, Luise (GER) vs. PRODAN, Karla (CRO)

Final Results 1. WAGNER, Anna Maria (GER) 2. AUSMA, Natascha (NED) 3. MALZAHN, Luise (GER) 3. TURCHYN, Anastasiya (UKR) 5. BABINTSEVA, Aleksandra (RUS) 5. PRODAN, Karla (CRO) 7. LANIR, Inbar (ISR) 7. SHMELEVA, Antonina (RUS)

-100kg: Amazing CATHARINA for Gold! The -100kg is one of those still very uncertain categories where many athletes can claim the final victory. We were expecting Peter PALTCHIK (ISR), Mukhammadkarim KHURRAMOV (UZB) or CHO Guham (KOR) to perform but only Arman ADAMIAN (RUS), already twice a bronze medallist on the World Judo Tour in 2021, could reach the final against Simeon CATHARINA (NED), cadet world champion in 2015 and 5th in Doha in January.

Strongly supported by the public, ADAMIAN took the lead with a counterattack for waza-ari and seemed in perfect control of the situation, when CATHARINA, after a beautiful action-reaction situation, engaged a ko-soto-gari to tani-otoshi combination for a clear and spectacular ippon that instantly silenced the public.

Even though he has three grand slam victories, the last of which dates back to 2018 in Ekaterinburg, it has been some time since Aleksandar KUKOLJ (SRB) found himself in a position to win a medal. This time it was against CHO Guham (KOR), whose last victory dates back to the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in 2019. After 33 seconds in golden score, CHO found an opportunity to score a beautiful ippon with ippon-seoi-nage.

Niiaz BILALOV (RUS) has been waiting to win his first medal on the international circuit for many months, but before he could celebrate he still had to face Onise SANEBLIDZE (GEO), a young athlete of only 22 years. With just two seconds remaining, BILALOV scored a waza-ari that offered him the victory, much to the delight of the public.

Medal, flowers and prize money were presented by Dr Lisa Allan, Events Director of the International Judo Federation, and Mr Pavel Nikolaev, President of the Judo Federation of the Republic of Tatarstan

Final CATHARINA, Simeon (NED) vs. ADAMIAN, Arman (RUS)

Bronze Medal Contests KUKOLJ, Aleksandar (SRB) vs. CHO, Guham (KOR) BILALOV, Niiaz (RUS) vs. SANEBLIDZE, Onise (GEO)

Final Results 1. CATHARINA, Simeon (NED) 2. ADAMIAN, Arman (RUS) 3. BILALOV, Niiaz (RUS) 3. CHO, Guham (KOR) 5. KUKOLJ, Aleksandar (SRB) 5. SANEBLIDZE, Onise (GEO) 7. GONCALVES, Leonardo (BRA) 7. PALTCHIK, Peter (ISR)

+78kg: DICKO Did it Again It seems that it has become almost impossible to stop the progress of the Frenchwoman Romane DICKO, who since the Tbilisi Grand Prix in 2018, has added the victories like pearls on a necklace which becomes more and more heavy to carry for her opponents; 8 in total from 9 outings! Once again DICKO went through the elimination stages without trembling, with precision, seriousness and good humour and qualified for the final against Maryna SLUTSKAYA, third at the last European Championships.

DICKO (FRA) in action in round 2 against BOGDANOVA (RUS)

Due to an injury suffered earlier in the day, Maryna SLUTSKAYA was unable to appear and DICKO added a ninth consecutive victory to her record. Impressive! The fact remains that the competition that will really count will take place this summer in Japan. Will DICKO be able to snatch the title from SONE Akira, the young Japanese world champion, the first athlete officially selected to represent Japan at the Games, after her world title in 2019? We'll find out soon, but the Japanese team has serious reasons to be concerned.

Second in the African Championships in 2020, Sonia ASSELAH (ALG) qualified for the bronze medal match against Beatriz SOUZA (BRA), winner of the recent Pan American Championships, but the Brazilian was too strong and with a masterpiece of an o-soto-gari scored ippon to win the bronze medal.

The second bronze medal contest opposed Melissa MOJICA (PUR) and the current Pan-American champion Maria Suelen ALTHEMAN (BRA). Even though MOJICA scored a waza-ari, she was then penalised three times to offer the victory and the medal to ALTHEMAN.

Medal, flowers and prize money were presented by Mr Ki-Young Jeon, IJF Hall of Fame Member and Referee Supervisor, Olympic Champion & 3 time World Champion, and Mr Valentin Khabirov, Vice President and Executive Director of the Russian Judo Federation

Final SLUTSKAYA, Maryna (BLR) vs. DICKO, Romane (FRA)

Bronze Medal Contests ASSELAH, Sonia (ALG) vs. SOUZA, Beatriz (BRA) MOJICA, Melissa (PUR) vs. ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA)

Final Results 1. DICKO, Romane (FRA) 2. SLUTSKAYA, Maryna (BLR) 3. ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA) 3. SOUZA, Beatriz (BRA) 5. ASSELAH, Sonia (ALG) 5. MOJICA, Melissa (PUR) 7. ALVAREZ, Sara (ESP) 7. KHOLODILINA, Anastasiia (RUS)

+100kg: BASHAEV Concludes a Beautiful Week for Russia 5th in Doha, finalist in Tel Aviv and finally the winner in Antalya in 2021, Tamerlan BASHAEV (RUS) is in a phase of ascending progression which once again guided him to the heavyweight final, against a judo giant, the Brazilian, Rafael SILVA, double Olympic medallist and triple world medalist.

The final was as expected, with SILVA trying to use his massive figure to throw BASHAEV with a natural but enormous uchi-mata and the small, by comparison, Russian trying to go under the centre of gravity of SILVA. At this game, the winner is BASHAEV, more active than the Brazilian, who was penalised three times.

Finalist in Düsseldorf in 2020, Johannes FREY (GER) qualified for the first bronze medal against the Romanian Vladut SIMIONESCU (ROU), who since the Baku Grand Slam in 2019 has not tasted an international podium and it was not to be this time either as the Romanian, despite his size, was thrown with a stunning drop seoi-nage, not dissimilar in speed and drive from those seen at -60kg. Very impressive from FREY!

On the podium in 2019 in Baku, Anton KRIVOBOKOV (RUS) faced the second Brazilian in the category, David MOURA, who, despite the public being in favour of his opponent, secured the bronze medal.

Medal, flowers and prize money were presented by Mr Florin Daniel Lascau, Sport Director & Acting Referee Director of the International Judo Federation, Mr Roman Nasredinov, Head of Department of the Physical Culture and Sport of Naberezhniye Chelny City

Final BASHAEV, Tamerlan (RUS) vs. SILVA, Rafael (BRA)

Bronze Medal Contests FREY, Johannes (GER) vs. SIMIONESCU, Vladut (ROU) KRIVOBOKOV, Anton (RUS) vs. MOURA, David (BRA)

Final Results 1. BASHAEV, Tamerlan (RUS) 2. SILVA, Rafael (BRA) 3. FREY, Johannes (GER) 3. MOURA, David (BRA) 5. KRIVOBOKOV, Anton (RUS) 5. SIMIONESCU, Vladut (ROU) 7. TSKHOVREBOV, Alen (RUS) 7. VAKHAVIAK, Aliaksandr (BLR)

See also