The season-ending IJF World Judo Masters 2017 delivered a day of sensational ippon judo as the dynamic and all-action sport signed off with a memorable conclusion to this year's tour at the Yubileyny Sports Palace on Sunday.
Japan retained control of the medal table having won four medals on day one but Georgia rallied on day two and won three gold medals from the seven weight categories to finish second in the medal table in the beautiful and historic city of Russia's capital of culture, St. Petersburg.
There was steel, heart and power from the judoka who, despite their size and immense strength, illustrated the graceful artistry that they posses in their worn hands and educated feet with picturesque techniques that roused and ruffled the capacity audience.
Day two of#JudoMasters2017 belonged to Georgia
The heavier weights contested the final day in St. Petersburg with the remaining seven weight categories in action.
As one of the flagship events on the IJF World Judo Tour, the annual Masters, is a battleground for the world's elite and every category is peppered with champions and young contenders who will become household names during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle.
The nature of the Masters, which was hosted in Russia once before in Tyumen in 2013, is that members of the world's top group of judoka are matched together from the opening round with four world-class judoka in each of the four pools in almost every weight category. The 2017 edition was widely-regarded as one of the best Masters competitions of all time and offered a fitting finale for a momentous season in judo.
RUSSIAN GREATS BOW OUT
On Sunday evening, following the conclusion of the IJF World Judo Masters 2017, several celebrated champions from the Russian team formally retired.
Russian judoka with IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER, Academy Award winner Mr. Adrien BRODY, Russian Judo Federation President Mr. Vasily ANISIMOV, IJF Vice President and EJU President Mr. Sergey SOLOVEYCHIK, Russian Team General Manager Mr. Ezio GAMBA and members of his coaching staff
The group, including Russia's trio London 2012 Olympic champions -- Arsen GALSTYAN, Mansur ISAEV and Tagir KHAIBULAEV, former world bronze medallists Kamal KHAN-MAGOMEDOV and Kirill VOPROSOV -- were presented to the guests at the World Judo Masters farewell dinner.
Russia's full list of retiring judoka was: Arsen GALSTYAN, Mansur ISAEV, Tagir KHAIBULAEV, Ivan NIFONTOV, Kamal KHAN-MAGOMEDOV, Sirazhudin MAGOMEDOV, Grigory SULEMIN, Kirill VOPROSOV, Alim GADANOV, Sergey SAMOYLOVICH and Batradz KAYTMAZOV.
IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER presented Russian Judo Federation President Mr. Vasily ANISIMOV with a 6th Dan diploma
AMERICAN ACADEMY AWARD WINNER LAUDS IJF WORLD JUDO TOUR EXPERIENCE
American Academy Award-winning actor and film producer Mr. Adrien BRODY was among the distinguished guests in attendance on the last day in St. Petersburg.
"Judo is not something new to me but watching it live in close proximity is really some thing remarkable," said the famed New York native.
Academy Award-winning actor Mr. Adrien BRODY (left) with IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER
"I've got to learn a bit about the athletes and the training they have undergone to perform here at this level and that was enjoyable. Judo is not just a sport, there is a lot more to it, it gives you balance and it is not purely about strength. It's been a wonderful experience for me."
Mr. BRODY congratulates bronze medallist Anna BERNHOLM (SWE) during the -70kg awarding ceremony
THE WAY TO TOKYO - JUDO ON THE ROAD TO 2020 HOMECOMING
The IJF World Judo Tour 2018 will open in Africa, a first for judo, with a new Grand Prix in Tunis, Tunisia, from 19-21 January before back-to-back Grand Slams in February in Paris, France and Dusseldorf, Germany.
The 2018 season marks the start of judo's road to its homecoming at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with the Olympic qualification period beginning in May at the second edition of China's Hohhot Grand Prix.
Watch all the action live and free on the IJF website and stay tuned to the IJF's social media channels for a preview of the upcoming season which is only four weeks away.
JUDO LEGENDS - Luis GUARDIA
In 1978, Luis Guardia left Cuba and moved to Miami, Florida. The 85-year-old judo legend explained how he started judo in his home country, the challenges he faced and the successes that led to the creation of the Pan American Judo Confederation in 1952. Luis Guardia is one of those people who helped to spread the word of judo worldwide. Still active on the mat, the living legend has been a judo teacher throughout his life and after 65 years in judo is today a ninth dan.
CLICKHERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO
Other judo legends films
JUDO LEGENDS: The International Judo Federation is pleased to release the seventh episode of its series of films on the legends of judo, who are above all builders of what our sport has become today. Whether they are or have been great champions, referees, or great leaders of world judo... they have all contributed to making judo a major player in international sport. Over the past weeks, the IJF already released seven videos of these exclusive interviews and unveiled the messages that these personalities have to offer us.
-70kg: Brazil's PORTELA enjoys career-best result
Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Maria PORTELA (BRA) saved the best day of her career thus far for the last day of IJF competition in 2017 as the Brazilian surged through the field to top spot. Judo Sogipa ace and Rio 2016 Olympian PORTELA defeated European bronze medallist Barbara MATIC (CRO) in a surprisingly one-sided contest between two judoka who were already assured of their first World Judo Masters silverware. Stocky Brazilian PORTELA sent over her Croatian opponent with te-waza as she anticipated the forward movement of her opponent and followed up with osaekomi after a hard-fought contest.
In the first semi-final world number five Marie Eve GAHIE (FRA) fell to MATIC by two waza-ari scores in a commanding and convincing showing from the Croatian. In the second semi-final PORTELA defeated Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Anna BERNHOLM (SWE) by a waza-ari score to power into the -70kg final.
The first bronze medal contest saw BERNHOLM outperform European u23 Championships bronze medallist Aleksandra SAMARDZIC (BIH) with two waza-ari scores. The Swede has transformed her career since moving up to the -70kg category and completed her best season by overwhelming SAMARDZIC.
The second bronze medal contest featured two French judoka as GAHIE defeated compatriot and former world bronze medallist Fanny Estelle POSVITE (FRA). After 68 seconds of golden score, the scoreless contest was brought to it its conclusion when 2015 World Judo Masters bronze medallist POSVITE received a third shido for dropping.
PORTELA, Maria (BRA) vs MATIC, Barbara (CRO)
Bronze Medal Fights
BERNHOLM, Anna (SWE) vs SAMARDZIC, Aleksandra (BIH)
POSVITE, Fanny Estelle (FRA) vs GAHIE, Marie Eve (FRA)
1. PORTELA, Maria (BRA)
2. MATIC, Barbara (CRO)
3. BERNHOLM, Anna (SWE)
3. GAHIE, Marie Eve (FRA)
5. SAMARDZIC, Aleksandra (BIH)
5. POSVITE, Fanny Estelle (FRA)
7. NIANG, Assmaa (MAR)
7. POLLERES, Michaela (AUT)
-78kg: Former world champion VERKERK scores first World Judo Masters gold
The Netherlands' veteran judoka and 2009 world champion Marhinde VERKERK (NED) earned one of the biggest wins of her career on Sunday evening as she defeated Dusseldorf Grand Prix silver medallist Madeleine MALONGA (FRA) for -78kg gold. VERKERK, 32, entered the final with two fifth-place finishes from the Masters while MALONGA, 23, was also appearing in the gold medal contest at the invite-only event for the first time. MALONGA has three IJF World Judo Tour wins on her honours reel with the last gold medal coming back in 2016 at the Samsun Grand Prix and that figure stayed the same after VERKERK scored a waza-ari from a makikomi with 23 seconds left in the contest.
In the first semi-final world number one Guusje STEENHUIS (NED) was beaten by VERKERK in golden score when the top seed received her third shido. In the second semi-final Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Anastasiya DMITRIEVA (RUS) fell to MALONGA by a waza-ari score.
The first bronze medal was claimed by The Hague Grand Prix bronze medallist Karen STEVENSON (NED) when Russian hope DMITRIEVA was penalised with a shido in golden score as the Netherlands were omnipresent in the -78kg category.
The second bronze medal contest featured the current world number one against the former world number one as STEENHUIS faced world bronze medallist and Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Natalie POWELL (GBR). The -78kg leader from the Netherlands came away with the win after 61 seconds of golden score as she tapped out the Welsh judoka with a juji-gatame.
MALONGA, Madeleine (FRA) vs VERKERK, Marhinde (NED)
Bronze Medal Fights
DMITRIEVA, Anastasiya (RUS) vs STEVENSON, Karen (NED)
STEENHUIS, Guusje (NED) vs POWELL, Natalie (GBR)
1. VERKERK, Marhinde (NED)
2. MALONGA, Madeleine (FRA)
3. STEVENSON, Karen (NED)
3. STEENHUIS, Guusje (NED)
5. DMITRIEVA, Anastasiya (RUS)
5. POWELL, Natalie (GBR)
7. TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA)
7. AGUIAR, Mayra (BRA)
+78kg: KIM beats ORTIZ to dramatically clinch world number one spot
Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medallist KIM Minjeong (KOR) defeated three-time Olympic medallist Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) to take over the +78kg category in the last women's contest on the IJF World Judo Tour 2017. KIM profited from an error-strewn display from ORTIZ who was reprimanded with her third shido after one minute of golden score. Both judoka had two shidos apiece and were seemingly obvilous to the impending danger as they offered little in the way of attacking intent. The endeavours of the South Korean were more promising and the Cuban was the one penalised as the +78kg category saw a late shake-up on the IJF World Ranking List.
In the first semi-final three-time ORTIZ thwarted Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medallist Maria Suelen ALTHEMAN (BRA) when the latter was penalised with her third shido to send the Cuban into the gold medal contest.
In the second semi-final Openweight World Championships silver medallist Larisa CERIC (BIH) lost to KIM after 50 seconds of golden score the South Korean judoka threw with a sasae-tsurikomi-ashi for a waza-ari.
The first bronze medal was claimed by CERIC who beat an out-of-sorts Ekaterinburg Grand Slam silver medallist Jasmin KUELBS (GER) who appeared to be ailing from something. In golden score CERIC seized the moment as she pushed forward for a waza-ari score after 25 seconds of added time as KUELBS gingerly returned to her feet.
The second bronze medal contest was won by ALTHEMAN who beat her heir apparent in Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Beatriz SOUZA (BRA). The Brazilian tussle favoured the more experienced judoka as SOUZA received her third shido after two minutes of golden score in a lethargic duel due to their familiarity with each other and their respective styles.
KIM, Minjeong (KOR) vs ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB)
Bronze Medal Fights
CERIC, Larisa (BIH) vs KUELBS, Jasmin (GER)
ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA) vs SOUZA, Beatriz (BRA)
1. KIM, Minjeong (KOR)
2. ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB)
3. CERIC, Larisa (BIH)
3. ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA)
5. KUELBS, Jasmin (GER)
5. SOUZA, Beatriz (BRA)
7. SAVELKOULS, Tessie (NED)
7. JABLONSKYTE, Sandra (LTU)
-81kg: Russia's Olympic champion takes home gold at World Judo Masters
Olympic champion Khasan KHALMURZAEV (RUS) was crowned the -81kg World Judo Masters gold medallist after a domestic meeting with European bronze medallist Aslan LAPPINAGOV (RUS) in the final. Three out of four medals went to Russia in a category that has always served them well and gold went to KHALMURZAEV who scored a waza-ari from a left-sided ko-uchi-gari which was the only time the scoreboard was breached as the home fans roared with approval after the four minutes elapsed.
In the first semi-final world number one Frank DE WIT (NED) lost out to KHALMURZAEV by a waza-ari which came after just 15 seconds after the home judoka prevailed in a good test for the owner of the golden backpatch in the -81kg category. In the second semi-final world number two Saeid MOLLAEI (IRI) was rolled over for a match-winning waza-ari score after three minutes of golden score against LAPPINAGOV.
The first bronze medal was clinched by world number four Alan KHUBETSOV who defeated MOLLAEI with the only score of the contest. MOLLAEI failed with a koshi-guruma as KHUBETSOV countered with yoko-sutemi-waza for a waza-ari score.
The second bronze medal was won by DE WIT who took Pan American Championships winner Eduardo Yudi SANTOS (BRA) over for ippon with 94 seconds left. The win sparked celebrations from the Dutchman and his coach as he confirmed his place as the year-ending world number one in the -81kg category.
LAPPINAGOV, Aslan (RUS) vs KHALMURZAEV, Khasan (RUS)
Bronze Medal Fights
MOLLAEI, Saeid (IRI) vs KHUBETSOV, Alan (RUS)
SANTOS, Eduardo Yudi (BRA) vs DE WIT, Frank (NED)
1. KHALMURZAEV, Khasan (RUS)
2. LAPPINAGOV, Aslan (RUS)
3. KHUBETSOV, Alan (RUS)
3. DE WIT, Frank (NED)
5. MOLLAEI, Saeid (IRI)
5. SANTOS, Eduardo Yudi (BRA)
7. LUCENTI, Emmanuel (ARG)
7. NYAMSUREN, Dagvasuren (MGL)
-90kg: Georgian golden boy wins second Masters title to kickstart treble
Dusseldorf Grand Prix winner Beka GVINIASHVILI (GEO) was back among the World Judo Masters winners as he repeated his 2015 triumph with a fine day of judo in St. Petersburg. GVINIASHVILI seemingly saved his best judo of the year for the final competition of the season as he defeated world bronze medallist GWAK Donghan (KOR) in the -90kg final with a polished performance. The 22-year-old started off Georgia's road to a trio of titles with a modified kata-guruma giving him the lead with a waza-ari score before a yoko-shiho-gatame left GWAK powerless as the former world champion took silver.
In the first semi-final Tokyo Grand Slam winner NAGASAWA Kenta (JPN) lost to GWAK after picking up his third shido for passivity with six seconds left. In the second semi-final Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP) failed against former GVINIASHVILI who beat his Tbilisi-born opponent by ippon.
The first bronze medal was won by SHERAZADISHVILI in a spectacular contest with world number one Aleksandar KUKOLJ (SRB). The free-scoring bout saw the Spanish judoka outscore the Serbian three waza-ari to two after a back and forth four minutes which was one of the highlights of the final block.
The second bronze medal went to NAGASAWA who countered a ko-soto-gake by former world silver medallist TOTH Krisztian (HUN) with driving te-waza for a waza-ari after 52 seconds of golden score.
GVINIASHVILI, Beka (GEO) vs GWAK, Donghan (KOR)
Bronze Medal Fights
SHERAZADISHVILI, Nikoloz (ESP) vs KUKOLJ, Aleksandar (SRB)
NAGASAWA, Kenta (JPN) vs TOTH, Krisztian (HUN)
1. GVINIASHVILI, Beka (GEO)
2. GWAK, Donghan (KOR)
3. SHERAZADISHVILI, Nikoloz (ESP)
3. NAGASAWA, Kenta (JPN)
5. KUKOLJ, Aleksandar (SRB)
5. TOTH, Krisztian (HUN)
7. KHALMURZAEV, Khusen (RUS)
7. MEHDIYEV, Mammadali (AZE)
-100kg: Varlam LIPARTELIANI, the pillar of Georgian judo, wins new honour
World silver medallist Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) won a new honour as the captain of the Georgian team helped to inspire his country to a stunning last day performance. Olympic and Worlds runner-up LIPARTELIANI was throwing at will at times earlier in the day and beat world number one Michael KORREL (NED) in the final with the fervent Georgian support, including countless flags draped over the stands, reaching new levels. A first Masters title for the IJF World Judo Tour star was the result after KORREL was thrown with a makikomi for a waza-ari and could not find a way to register a score of his own.
In the first semi-final KORREL defeated European champion Elkhan MAMMADOV (AZE) when the veteran Azeri received his third shido in golden score. In the second semi-final Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medallist CIRJENICS Miklos (HUN) was well-beaten by world silver medallist Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) who produced three waza-ari scores without reply.
The first bronze medal was won by CIRJENICS who took both sleeves of Portuguese powerhouse Jorge FONSECA (POR) before launching his adversary for ippon with one of the throws of the tournament. Zagreb Grand Prix silver medallist FONSECA is seldom caught in such a manner and had to settle for fifth-place.
The second bronze medal went to MAMMADOV, who will turn 36 in February, as he threw home judoka DENISOV with a ko-soto for a waza-ari which was the decisive moment of the four minute contest.
LIPARTELIANI, Varlam (GEO) vs KORREL, Michael (NED)
Bronze Medal Fights
CIRJENICS, Miklos (HUN) vs FONSECA, Jorge (POR)
DENISOV, Kirill (RUS) vs MAMMADOV, Elkhan (AZE)
1. LIPARTELIANI, Varlam (GEO)
2. KORREL, Michael (NED)
3. CIRJENICS, Miklos (HUN)
3. MAMMADOV, Elkhan (AZE)
5. FONSECA, Jorge (POR)
5. DENISOV, Kirill (RUS)
7. BISULTANOV, Adlan (RUS)
7. GASIMOV, Elmar (AZE)
+100kg: Guram the Great beats world number one with much more to come in 2018
European champion Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) made it three-for-three for Georgia as his country won the -90kg, -100kg and +100kg titles on Sunday. Baku Grand Slam winner TUSHISHVILI, 22, won his second IJF World Judo Tour gold medal at the expense of 30-year-old world number one David MOURA (BRA). A seoi-nage after two minutes put the Georgian ahead by a waza-ari score before throwing the Brazilian for ippon in an incredible showcase of his talent which is still raw and will greatly improve on the road to Tokyo 2020. TUSHISHVILI screamed with satisfaction as he held both arms up towards the Georgian supporters to end the 2017 season in sublime fashion.
In the first semi-final MOURA threw The Hague Grand Prix silver medallist Maciej SARNACKI (POL) twice, scoring a waza-ari each time, to progress to the last final of the competition. In the second semi-final TUSHISHVILI saw off double Olympic bronze medallist Rafael SILVA (BRA) after the South American was penalised for a third time to receive hansoku-make.
The first bronze medal was won by SILVA as Rio 2016 Olympic flagbearer BATTULGA Temuulen (MGL) gifted a spot on the podium to the Brazilian by receiving his third shido after 58 seconds of golden score.
The second and last bronze medal contest saw Openweight World Championships bronze medallist Alex GARCIA MENDOZA (CUB) overcome SARNACKI by a waza-ari score to capture the final place on the +100kg medal podium.
TUSHISHVILI, Guram (GEO) vs MOURA, David (BRA)
Bronze Medal Fights
SILVA, Rafael (BRA) vs BATTULGA, Temuulen (MGL)
SARNACKI, Maciej (POL) vs GARCIA MENDOZA, Alex (CUB)
1. TUSHISHVILI, Guram (GEO)
2. MOURA, David (BRA)
3. SILVA, Rafael (BRA)
3. GARCIA MENDOZA, Alex (CUB)
5. BATTULGA, Temuulen (MGL)
5. SARNACKI, Maciej (POL)
7. BONDARENKO, Stanislav (UKR)
7. ULZIIBAYAR, Duurenbayar (MGL)