This is it, the 2018 international judo season was launched today in Tunis in the presence of the President of the International Judo Federation, Mr. Marius Vizer and the Minister of Sport of Tunisia, Ms. Majdouline Cherni. With five categories in action (-48kg, -52kg, -57kg for women and -60kg and -66kg for men) on the first day of the Tunisian Grand Prix 2018, a large number of people came to fervently attend the first matches of the year that will see the opening of Olympic qualifications in a few months. While the Olympic qualifications have not started yet, 46 delegations made the trip to the Mediterranean coast.

A new event on the calendar with adapted refereeing rules, this first day of competition demonstrated the dynamism of international judo and its ability to permanently adapt to a major setting. The show was up to expectations with no less than 129 competitors on the starting line this morning in the sports hall El Menzah of Tunis.

Please find below the full results of the first day of competition and stay tuned for more information on the tournament's progress and on the outcome of this World Judo Tour debut.

-48kg: Daria BILODID first gold medallist of 2018
The very first final of the day, of the tournament and of the season opposed Alexandra POP (ROU), who made her first appearance in the final of a Grand Prix, and the current European champion Daria BILODID (UKR), who did not offer a single chance to her opponent and after having controlled POP, pushed her down to the floor, and engaged an immediate sankaku-jime followed by an immobilisation for ippon after only a few seconds.

The first bronze medal contest opposed the 2015 Cadets World Champion, Diyora KELDIYOROVA (UZB) and Maryna CHERNIAK (UKR), who scored a first waza-ari with a o-soto-gari, which she kept alive until the end of the bout to win her tenth Grand Prix medal. KELDIYOROVA, who is only 19 years old, still has time to win as much medals on the World circuit as her elder.

In the second bronze medal contest, Julia FIGUEROA of Spain faced TANAKA Mei of Japan. Halfway to the end the scoreboard was still empty as none of the athletes were able to put their opponent in danger. At the end of regular time, only one shido was given to Tanaka, so the athletes entered the golden score. But only 16 seconds were enough for the Japanese to score a waza-ari with sumi-otoshi technique.

POP, Alexandra (ROU) vs. BILODID, Daria (UKR)

Bronze Medal Contests

Final Results
1. BILODID, Daria (UKR)
2. POP, Alexandra (ROU)
3. CHERNIAK, Maryna (UKR)
3. TANAKA, Mei (JPN)
5. FIGUEROA, Julia (ESP)
7. GERSJES, Amber (NED)
7. MERCADIER, Mallaurie (FRA)

-60KG: KHYAR like a shooting star
The first final of the men's category opposed the former European champion, Walide KHYAR (FRA) and Matjaz TRBOVC (SLO) who was participating in his second Grand Prix final. But the final result was the same for the Slovenian as he had to suffer a beautiful homemade ure-nage from KHYAR for one of the most spectacular ippons of the final block.

In the first bronze medal contest, the 22-year-old MIYANOHARA Seiya (JPN) was opposed to the more experienced and 9-year-older Ashley MCKENZIE (GBR), who already won 6 medals on the World Judo Tour (2 Grand Slams, 4 Grand Prix). During regular time the British was penalised twice, the first one after breaking the grip, the second for false attack as his low-left-handed-tai-otoshi was not precise enough. Unfortunately for him he received a third shido at the entrance of the golden score giving the victory to MIYANOHARA for a first medal in a Grand Prix.

Yassine MOUDATIR (MAR), four times continental champion, and the winner of the 2017 Antalya Grand Prix, Gusman KYRGYZBAYEV (KAZ), met in the second bronze medal contest. Over-dominated by the strong grip of the Kazakh, MOUDATIR was penalized two times within the first half of the bout. But courageously, the Morocco kept trying to find an opportunity, as despite his strength, KYRGYZBAYEV couldn't score either. After 1:16 of Golden score, MOUDATIR was penalized a third time for false attack giving the victory to KYRGYZBAYEV for a second medal on a Grand Prix.

KHYAR, Walide (FRA) vs. TRBOVC, Matjaz (SLO)

Bronze Medal Contests

Final Results
1. KHYAR, Walide (FRA)
2. TRBOVC, Matjaz (SLO)
5. MCKENZIE, Ashley (GBR)
5. MOUDATIR, Yassine (MAR)
7. MANQUEST, Vincent (FRA)

-52kg: PEREIRA defeats KRASNIQI in Final
With no surprise in the women's -52kg, the two favorites, the three-time Grand Prix Gold medalist, Distria KRASNIQI (KOS), and the 2017 Pan-American Champion, Jessica PEREIRA (BRA), entered the final. Much less active than KRASNIQI, PEREIRA was penalized with a first shido half way to the end and again with a second one just before the last minute. Giving the impression that she was perfectly controlling the final, KRASNIQI was perhaps a little to confident and did not pay attention that the Brazilian had a very strong ko-soto-gari, which she applied twice, first for a waza-ari and second for a clear ippon.

The first bronze medal contest saw the winner of 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and sister of Olympic Bronze Medallist Priscilla, Astride GNETO (FRA) facing the 19-year-old KOSE Mai (JPN), who never participated in a World Judo Tour event before Tunis. As none of the athletes were able to score during regular time, they entered the golden score with only shido up on the scoreboard. After 2 minutes of extra-time, they had tow shido each and a simple mistake was about to determine the winner. The mistake was done by the French, who couldn't resist to the Japanese ne-waza skills and was immobilized for ippon. From now on, with this medal, KOSE Mai will appear on the world results for the first time.

Irem KORKMAZ (TUR) and Anja STANGAR (SLO) were opposed in the second bronze medal contest. The danger came first from the Turkish side as KORKMAZ followed a uchi-mata attempt with a semi-gaeshi but for no score, repeating the same technique a few seconds later again for the same result. After a long session on the floor, STANGAR could finally catch her opponent with an immobilisation for ippon and win here second medal on a Grand Prix

KRASNIQI, Distria (KOS) vs. PEREIRA, Jessica (BRA)

Bronze Medal Contests
GNETO, Astride (FRA) vs. KOSE, Mai (JPN)

Final Results
1. PEREIRA, Jessica (BRA)
2. KRASNIQI, Distria (KOS)
3. KOSE, Mai (JPN)
3. STANGAR, Anja (SLO)
5. GNETO, Astride (FRA)
5. KORKMAZ, Irem (TUR)
7. GILES, Chelsie (GBR)

-66kg: AKHADOV wins after 7 minutes of Golden Score
The second final of the men's divisions, opposed FUJISAKA Taroh (JPN) and Shakhram AKHADOV (UZB). After a little more than a minute, AKHADOV was penalized with a shido for passivity and received a second penalty within the regular time but with no score the two competitors entered the golden score. After three minutes, they were still both very active, the Japanese with aerial uchi-mata, and the Uzbek with left-handed drop-seoi-nage, but none of them was capable of scoring. After four minutes and ten seconds FUJISAKA thought he had won as the first waza-ari was announced but it was cancelled by the jury. This is only after 7:08 of golden score that finally, after dozens of attempts, AKHADOV could score a waza-ari with a drop-reversed-seoi-nage and could win his first Grand Prix gold medal.

The first bronze medal contest opposed Aram GRIGORYAN (RUS) and Mohamed ABDELMAWGOUD (EGY). As GRIGORYAN scored a first waza-ari with a o-goshi technique, ABDELMAWGOUD came back also with a waza-ari, before the Russian launched a quick perfectly executed drop-seoi-nage for ippon.

In the second bronze medal contest the second Russian, Isa ISAEV was opposed to the Kazakh Yerlan SERIKZHANOV. In less than two minutes, four penalities, two for ISAEV and two for SERIKZHANOV had been given. This the time SERIKZHANOV chose to take advantage of one of the new rules to launch his strongest attack for ippon. After a session on the floor, both athletes stood up. Before it would have been a 'matte' called by the referee but from now on, the bout can continue and for sure SERIKZHANOV was aware of this important change in the rules.

FUJISAKA, Taroh (JPN) vs. AKHADOV, Shakhram (UZB)

Bronze Medal Contests

Final Results
1. AKHADOV, Shakhram (UZB)
2. FUJISAKA, Taroh (JPN)
5. ISAEV, Isa (RUS)
7. PETRIKOV, Pavel (CZE)
7. VAN HARTEN, Matthijs (NED)

-57kg: Kosovo Gets gold on second attempt of the day
For the second time of the day, Kosovo placed an athlete in the final as Nora GJAKOVA (KOS) was qualified against KWON Youjeong (KOR). Visibly more powerful than her opponent, GJAKOVA took the leadership of the final but had to wait until the second half to score a first waza-ari with a counter-attack. For the remaining minute, GJAKOVA easily controlled KWON to win her third Grand Prix Gold Medal.

Everybody knows that her special technique is ko-soto-gari. She has been doing it for years, but when Myrian ROPER (PAN) decides to launch her attack, it's really difficult to escape from it. This was once again confirmed today as she won the bronze medal by defeating Jaione EQUISOAIN (ESP) by ippon with... ko-soto-gari.

In the second bronze medal contest Kaja KAJZER (SLO) faced the 19-year-old Sarah Leonie CYSIQUE (FRA), who quickly scored a waza-ari with a superb action-reaction, concluded with a drop seoi-nage. Then the French just controlled the rest of the bout to win a first medal on the occasion of a Grand Prix.

KWON, Youjeong (KOR) vs. GJAKOVA, Nora (KOS)

Bronze Medal Contests
EQUISOAIN, Jaione (ESP) vs. ROPER, Miryam (PAN)
KAJZER, Kaja (SLO) vs. CYSIQUE, Sarah Leonie (FRA)

Final Results
1. GJAKOVA, Nora (KOS)
2. KWON, Youjeong (KOR)
3. CYSIQUE, Sarah Leonie (FRA)
3. ROPER, Miryam (PAN)
5. EQUISOAIN, Jaione (ESP)
5. KAJZER, Kaja (SLO)
7. KHELIFI, Ghofran (TUN)
7. LEUNG, Po Sum (HKG)

See also