It is always impressive how fast a World Judo Tour event unfolds. We wait for it for weeks or months, we see the date approaching, the athletes are training and the organisers are preparing and then suddenly, the kickoff whistle is blown and everything is over in a whirlwind of ippon, victories and defeats. This is what happened again this weekend in Antalya, Turkey.

On this last day of competition we saw Marcus NYMAN winning for Sweden at -90kg, while MUKAI Shoichiro (JPN) was having doubts. His teammate, HAMADA Shori at -78kg didn't have the same question and concluded with a clear gold medal. We also noticed that another Japanese athlete was not in his best condition. WOLF Aaron reached the final but he was defeated by a solid Zelym KOTSOIEV of Azerbaijan. Last but not least we will remember the courageous victory of Raz HERSHKO (ISR) at +78kg and the surprised one of Tamerlan BASHAEV (RUS) in the men's +100kg.

At the end of the event, Italy and Japan finish with the same exact number of medals, 2 gold and 2 silver, but Italy takes the lead, with a difference of one 5th place. Canada finishes on the podium while the host country, Turkey is very close.

It has reached that point of the cycle when we can begin to translate the usual glee and disappointment at full time, a little differently. We can read the realisation that a loss may signal the end of qualification hope, the losing of faith and the acceptance that Tokyo will not be on their flight plan this year.

For some this harsh reality creates momentum and propels them to their best judo, being one last, precise effort and maybe holds the door open a little longer. For others it is complete emptiness and the knowledge that their life now has to take a different turn.

Every Olympic cycle brings these moments and every podium leaves behind it the shadows of someone else’s goals, but somehow this 5 year challenge feels tougher and more pronounced.

Of course the reverse is always true and in Antalya we also feel the extraordinary joy that exudes from the faces of those judoka who know they’ve made it, they’ve done it, they’ve met their goals and impressed their families and coaches and they absolutely will be able to call themselves an Olympian this summer.

With all that in mind and a few days in advance, because from tomorrow everyone will be on the road again to travel back home before the next event, being held in Kazan in May, the judo family has come together to celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. It’s actual date is 6th April and in the days to come we will have the opportunity to talk about it again. In the meantime, you can post your photos and videos of the White Card campaign on

-90kg: NYMAN Wins for the Fourth Time in a Grand Slam MUKAI Shoichiro (JPN) is the Japanese athlete selected by the All Japan Judo Federation to participate in the Olympic Games this summer. Thus, Antalya was supposed to be a good test for him. Unfortunately for him his competition was pretty short as he was defeated by Abderrahmane BENAMADI (ALG) in the first round. That was definitely the biggest surprise of the day. Otherwise, the final looked like a usual final with Marcus NYMAN (SWE), winner in Tbilisi last week, against TOTH Krisztian (HUN), bronze medallist in Tashkent and Tel Aviv earlier this year.

We witnessed an interesting final, a clash of two athletes with totally different styles, due to their different morphology. NYMAN is tall, slim and has infinite arms, while the other, TOTH, is shorter, compact and incredibly strong. They totally neutralised each other during normal time. It was only in the golden score period that after an action that seemed to be in favour of TOTH, at the the very last moment NYMAN turned and countered the Hungarian for a waza-ari and took a fourth gold medal in a grand slam. 

In the first bronze medal contest Li KOCHMAN (ISR), fifth in Tbilisi faced, Mihael ZGANK (TUR), silver medallist in Tel Aviv in 2020. ZGANK seemed to control the match, even if only shido had been given so far, when KOCHMAN engaged a strong o-soto-gari, combined with a powerful change of direction for a waza-ari.

For the second bronze medal contest David KLAMMERT (CZE), whose last medal on the World Judo Tour was in Tunisia in 2018, was opposed to Komronshokh USTOPIRIYON (TJK), already the holder of 8 grand prix medals but none from a grand slam. KLAMMERT was a little behind during the first 4 minutes, receiving two shido, while USTOPIRIYON seemed stronger but couldn't throw. Endangered by the possible third penalty, KLAMMERT kept attacking in the golden score period and was happy to score a waza-ari just outside of the competition area, but it was totally valid as it began inside the area. This is a first medal in a grand slam for the young competitor. 

Medal, flowers and prize money were presented by Dr Laszlo Toth, Member of the IJF Coordination Committee of Directors and President of the Hungarian Judo Association and Mr Suleyman Sahin, Head of Financial Department of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Turkey

Final NYMAN, Marcus (SWE) vs. TOTH, Krisztian (HUN)

Bronze Medal Contests KOCHMAN, Li (ISR) vs. ZGANK, Mihael (TUR) KLAMMERT, David (CZE) vs. USTOPIRIYON, Komronshokh (TJK)

Final Results 1. NYMAN, Marcus (SWE) 2. TOTH, Krisztian (HUN) 3. KLAMMERT, David (CZE) 3. KOCHMAN, Li (ISR) 5. USTOPIRIYON, Komronshokh (TJK) 5. ZGANK, Mihael (TUR) 7. BENAMADI, Abderrahmane (ALG) 7. MUZAPPAROV, Yersultan (KAZ)

-78kg: HAMADA Confirms her Favourite Status That we find HAMADA Shori (JPN) in the final is not really a surprise. Second on the World Ranking List, world champion in 2018 and finalist in 2019, she is part of the Japanese team which will participate in the Olympic Games this summer. The Antalya Grand Slam was therefore a good test for her, pitted against the Polish judoka Beata PACUT, fifth in Tashkent a few weeks ago and who delivered a good performance by reaching the final.

Logically after a first waza-ari, HAMADA Shori continued in osae-komi-waza for ippon. The Japanese fighter will be among the top favourites for Olympic gold this summer. 

Seventh in Tashkent, Antonina SHMELEVA (RUS) progressed by entering the bronze medal contest against MA Zhenzhao (CHN), third in Tbilisi a week ago, but this time the Chinese woman couldn't deliver the same performance and was defeated after she received a third penalty in golden score. SHMELEVA wins bronze.

Junior world champion in 2015, Karla PRODAN (CRO) progresses regularly on the world circuit. Finalist in Tashkent and third in Tel Aviv this year, she offered herself another medal chance against Vanessa CHALA (ECU), winner of the Pan American Championships in 2020. CHALA controlled the match to win the bronze medal, looking strong and determined throughout the day.

Medal, flowers and prize money were presented by Mr Skander Hachicha, Member of the IJF Coordination Committee of Directors, Vice President of the African Judo Union and President of the Tunisian Judo Federation and Mr Senol Celik, Board Member of the Turkish Judo Federation

Final HAMADA, Shori (JPN) vs. PACUT, Beata (POL)

Bronze Medal Contests SHMELEVA, Antonina (RUS) vs. MA, Zhenzhao (CHN) PRODAN, Karla (CRO) vs. CHALA, Vanessa (ECU)

Final Results 1. HAMADA, Shori (JPN) 2. PACUT, Beata (POL) 3. CHALA, Vanessa (ECU) 3. SHMELEVA, Antonina (RUS) 5. MA, Zhenzhao (CHN) 5. PRODAN, Karla (CRO) 7. LANIR, Inbar (ISR) 7. TURCHYN, Anastasiya (UKR)

-100kg: Outsider KOTSOIEV Wins Gold After the premature elimination of the number one seed, Shady ELNAHAS (CAN), who had probably not recovered from his victory in Tbilisi less than a week ago, the draw opened for Zelym KOTSOIEV (AZE) who, in the first round, defeated the French Olympic medallist Cyrille MARET. MARET has obviously not yet reached his full capacity since a serious road accident in 2020. Seeing him again on a tatami is nevertheless a pleasure. In the final KOTSOIEV was therefore to fight the Japanese judoka WOLF Aaron, who trembled in the first round when he was led with a waza-ari by the Turkish Mert SISMANLAR (TUR) before he scored ippon.

Things are sometimes a little complicated when you have a right-handed and a left-handed competitor on the mat and the key is that opposite arm that seems impossible to reach. This is what happened between KOTSOIEV and WOLF, but the Azerbaijani was clever enough to get one less penalty, to win a significant gold medal after a very good competition. 

The first bronze medal match saw triple grand slam gold medallist Aleksandar KUKOLJ (SRB) and Arman ADAMIAN (RUS), third in the World Judo Masters at the start of the season, step on to the tatami. With one minute and 15 seconds remaining, ADAMIAN scored ippon with a combination of ko-soto-gari and tani-otoshi, the kind of ippon that only the heavy weights can perform; massive, powerful, unstoppable, for a third grand slam medal for the Russian competitor.

In the absence of teammate ELHANAS in the final block, Kyle REYES (CAN) managed to climb into A fight for bronze, against Grigori MINASKIN (EST), seventh in Tbilisi recently, but this was not a good day for Canada. REYES was already on his back, thrown with a surprising kata-guruma, after only 9 seconds. This is a first bronze medal for MINASKIN in a grand slam. 

Medal, flowers and prize money were presented by Dr Lisa Allan, Events Director of the International Judo Federation and Mr Kaya Gezeker, Vice President of the Turkish Judo Federation

Final KOTSOIEV, Zelym (AZE) vs. WOLF, Aaron (JPN)

Bronze Medal Contests KUKOLJ, Aleksandar (SRB) vs. ADAMIAN, Arman (RUS) REYES, Kyle (CAN) vs. MINASKIN, Grigori (EST)

Final Results 1. KOTSOIEV, Zelym (AZE) 2. WOLF, Aaron (JPN) 3. ADAMIAN, Arman (RUS) 3. MINASKIN, Grigori (EST) 5. KUKOLJ, Aleksandar (SRB) 5. REYES, Kyle (CAN) 7. KHURRAMOV, Mukhammadkarim (UZB) 7. OZCICEK-TAKAGI, Kayhan (AUS)

+78kg: HERSHKO Surprises Everyone Already a finalist and above all a winner a week ago in Tbilisi, the Chinese athlete XU Shiyan again entered the final of a grand slam. In front of her, the one who had failed at the foot of the podium in Georgia, who this time avoided all the traps, was Raz HERSHKO (ISR).

Not at all impressed by her opponent, taller and heavier than her, HERSHKO immediately took the lead with a waza-ari and then perfectly controlled the score until the very last second. Actually the last action of XU landed after the gong, but it was clearly initiated before and so it was valid. With one waza-ari each, the athletes started the golden score period, but this didn't disturb HERSHKO, who continued to put pressure on XU and eventually launched a sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for a liberating second waza-ari. Well done to Raz HERSHKO, who truly deserves that gold medal and who was coached by her cousin, Shany, the famous coach of the Israeli women’s team. 

In the first contest for a bronze medal, there was a rematch of the last African Championships between the Algerian Sonia ASSELAH, silver medallist in Africa and the Cameroonian Hortence Vanessa MBALLA ATANGANA (CMR), the gold medallist. It was again Hortence who won, giving her an important second grand slam medal.

The second Chinese athlete of the category, WANG Yan, third in Budapest in 2020, was opposed to Nihel CHEIKH ROUHOU (TUN), third in Tashkent this year. The Tunisian added a tenth medal in a grand slam to her prize list, after she scored a waza-ari with a reverse ippon-seoi-nage.

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 Oguz Kaynak, Board Member of the Turkish Judo Federation

Final XU, Shiyan (CHN) vs. HERSHKO, Raz (ISR)

Bronze Medal Contests ASSELAH, Sonia (ALG) vs. MBALLA ATANGANA, Hortence Vanessa (CMR) WANG, Yan (CHN) vs. CHEIKH ROUHOU, Nihel (TUN)

Final Results 1. HERSHKO, Raz (ISR) 2. XU, Shiyan (CHN) 3. CHEIKH ROUHOU, Nihel (TUN) 3. MBALLA ATANGANA, Hortence Vanessa (CMR) 5. ASSELAH, Sonia (ALG) 5. WANG, Yan (CHN) 7. BOLIVAR GONZALEZ, Yuliana (PER) 7. MOJICA, Melissa (PUR)

+100kg: BASHAEV Takes the Last Gold Medal It cannot be said that things were easy for HARASAWA Hisayoshi (JPN), who had come to Antalya to test himself in the framework of the upcoming Tokyo Games, knowing that he is the holder of team Japan’s spot in the men's heavy weight division. Under Temur RAKHIMOV's pressure (TJK) in the quarterfinals, he got out of trouble thanks to a flash of genius which allowed him to continue his route to the final. One could imagine that he would face Lukas KRPALEK (CZE), seeded number one and also world number one, but the latter was eliminated by Tamerlan BASHAEV (RUS) in the semi-final.

It has already been written that it was not a very good day for Japan and here that trend continued. Much smaller than HARASAWA, BASHAEV used his finely tuned skills of adaptation to produce one of the most beautiful combinations of the day. Initiating an ippon-ko-soto-gari, BASHAEV didn't change direction and continued to push forward, while HARASAWA was attempting the counterattack, but in the process, the Russian was again in the position to throw with his shoulder movement and he did. Suddenly the Japanese judoka was landing on his back. He will have to watch the video to understand exactly what went wrong. This is a beautiful victory for Tamerlan BASHAEV.

For the first bronze medal we found Stephan HEGYI (AUT), seventh in Tbilisi a week ago, against Ushangi KOKAURI (AZE), third in Abu Dhabi in 2019. After KOKAURI was penalised three times, Stephan HEGYI won the medal.

In the second bronze medal contest, the last bout of the whole event, Temur RAKHIMOV (TJK), still looking for a grand slam medal, was up against the reigning world champion, Lukas KRPALEK (CZE). KRPALEK scored a first waza-ari with a sumi-gaeshi and not long later he scored again with the exact same movement, a second waza-ari and the win.

Medal, flowers and prize money were presented by Mr Florin Daniel Lascau, Sport Director & Acting Referee Director of the International Judo Federation and Mr Mesut Kapan Member of the IJF Development Commission and General Coordinator of the Turkish Judo Federation

Final BASHAEV, Tamerlan (RUS) vs. HARASAWA, Hisayoshi (JPN)

Bronze Medal Contests HEGYI, Stephan (AUT) vs. KOKAURI, Ushangi (AZE) RAKHIMOV, Temur (TJK) vs. KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE)

Final Results 1. BASHAEV, Tamerlan (RUS) 2. HARASAWA, Hisayoshi (JPN) 3. HEGYI, Stephan (AUT) 3. KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE) 5. KOKAURI, Ushangi (AZE) 5. RAKHIMOV, Temur (TJK) 7. DRAGIC, Vito (SLO) 7. YUSUPOV, Alisher (UZB)

See also