Current world champion Lasha Shavdatuashvili put on a show-stopping performance in front of his fans in the -73kg event on the second day of the Tbilisi Grand Slam in Georgia.
His Japanese opponent levelled the score with just seconds to go. However, the 2012 Olympic Champion and local hero dug deep in front of the home crowd. The 30-year-old secured a win when he performed a brilliant footsweep, sending the spectators wild.
Demonstrating excellent sportsmanship, the Georgian legend congratulated his opponent. He become a World Champion at the Budapest -73kg event in 2021.
He was awarded his medal by Georgian Judo Federation President Mr Giorgi Atabegashvili.
“Of course, every achievement means so much to me. The Olympics, the World Judo Championships, every final is important” said Shavdatuashvili, who collected four medals at the European Championships in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2020.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be on the podium, to see your hard work pay off, I’m always fighting for victory, and it’s incredible to do this at home” he added.
In the -63kg category young Israeli Inbal Shemesh had an unforgettable day. After winning a silver medal in the 2019 Tel Aviv Grand Prix, she used the same tani-otoshi technique on each of her opponents to reach her first Grand Slam final.
There she faced Brazil’s seasoned Ketelyn Quadros, the first Brazilian woman to win an Olympic medal in an individual sport. Shemesh was overwhelmed with emotion when she claim the gold.
The International Judo Federation’s Events Director Dr Lisa Allan was on hand to award the medals
“Actually I really love this crowd. I think they really support me because they like the style of ura-nage and coming close. So it makes me really happy to listen to them of course” said Inbal Shemesh.
Meanwhile, Sanne Van Dijke took gold in the -70kg category, with a tactical victory over Spain’s Ai Tsunoda Roustant.
The 26-year-old who was the 2017 and 2021 European gold medalist was awarded her medal by International Judo Federation Education and Coaching Director Mr Mohammed Meridja.
In the -81kg competition Lee Joonhwan devastated Georgian hopes of a second Gold, as he defeated fan favourite Tato Grigalashvili with a fantastic counter.
His debut on the World Judo Tour was certainly a memorable one. The medals were awarded by IJF Head Referee Director Mr Florin Daniel Lascau.
Each year the Georgian team comes out in force, showcasing the best of their proud nation.
The team took home two more bronze medals, giving the local fans, even more, to cheer for.
The younger judoka stood out in particular, showing great promise for the upcoming race to Paris.