The last day of the Heydar Aliyev Baku Grand Slam saw the world’s best heavyweight judoka step onto the mat for a chance of glory.
Before they began a group of girls was invited to meet the athletes and the officials as part of the the “White Suits Girls” programme in Azerbaijan.
It encourages young women to participate in combat sports to foster their development, their self-confidence and their combat skills.
On the mat, in the 90 kilo category, Bulgaria’s Ivaylo Ivanov faced individual neutral athlete Mikhail Igolnikov in a tough match. Both judoka fought hard, but Igolnikov ultimately scored two impressive waza-aris to claim the Baku gold medal, his fifth title, sending the crowd wild.
World Champion & Azerbaijan Judo Federation Board Member Mr Elkhan Mammadov awarded the medals.
In the 78 kilo category Germany’s Anna-Maria Wagner went up against Italy’s Alice Bellandi. Wagner ended the contest in style with a huge ippon to the delight of the local fans, who loved her high energy judo.
International Judo Federation (IJF) Education & Coaching Director Mohammed Meridja awarded the medals.
“I was in the flow today, and I feel the flow and in the fight I feel really comfortable and every second I know, OK, I’m stronger today and yeah I think this power in my mind and with my self confidence in this fight, this fight was this time for me,” Wagner said.
With a cheering crowd looking on, in the 100 kilo category Ilia Sulamanidze pulled out an enormous waza-ari to secure his gold medal here in Baku. It was a huge display of power from the Georgian as his travelling fans roared him on.
Vice President of the Georgian Judo Federation David Kevkhishvili awarded the medals.
“It’s a strange feeling because the local kids, maybe they don’t know me or where I come from, but they supported me with their hearts and, although this is a strange feeling, it was a huge happiness for me,” Sulamanidze said aftewards.
In the 78 kilo category two Brazilians, Beatriz Souza and Rochele Nunes, displayed true judo values by both celebrating Souza’s winning performance.
World Champion and double Olympic silver medallist Neil Adams awarded the medals.
In the over 100 kilo category, independent neutral athlete Inal Tasoev expertly countered Georgia’s Guram Tushishvili for a waza-ari, claiming victory.
Azerbaijan Judo Federation Board Member Agayar Akhundzada awarded the medals.
For the thousands of local fans, Azerbaijan’s Zelym Kotsoiev was determined to claim the bronze medal, which he did in style. it was an accomplished display of judo from the local star, inspiring the young judoka watching on.