It is not so often that a country can place several of their competitors at this level. We are used to this being the case for nations like Japan. The overall performance of the Serbian team is therefore remarkable, just a few weeks before the World Championships in Doha and just over a year before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, especially since today a third Serbian judoka was at the party. Andrea Stojadinov ranked second, only beaten by her compatriot, Nikolic.
As usual, this first day brought its share of surprises and confirmations. We found two Olympic champions almost at their best level, almost, because Distria Krasniqi (KOS) and Nora Gjakova (KOS) lacked a bit of concentration and stamina to finish on the top of the podium. The Tbilisi Grand Slam is an important step on the world circuit, the major events of the world championships and the Olympic Games are still to come though and it is then that we will know if the missteps observed today were only accidents, or simply learning and breaking-in stages.
Today we also met athletes who gave us great pleasure because throughout the competition they demonstrated technical precision, tactical sense and great respect for their opponents. Flamboyant as ever, Diyora Keldiyorova was not afraid against the Olympic champion Krasniqi and she made short work of her illustrious opponent. Marisa Perisic did not give up against another Olympic champion to win. Kubanychbek Aibek Uulu won the first grand slam medal for his country Kyrgyzstan. Turan Bayramov (AZE) proved intractable at -60kg, while the host country won its first medal of the tournament with Giorgi Sardalashvili who, we are sure, will still be talked about in the future.
The final block of the day was of high quality. Everyone could find something there. We saw dazzling techniques and well-honed tactics. Both the medal-winning athletes and those who missed out will have to learn the lessons from this beautiful day of judo in Georgia. We really enjoyed this first day of competition in Tbilisi.
Starting tomorrow, Saturday 25th March, we will meet, from 10 a.m., four new weight categories on the tatami, live on https://live.ijf.org
More images of the Tbilisi Grand Slam 2023 - CLICK HERE