The beautiful Heydar Aliyev Sports Arena witnessed the Baku Grand Slam’s last day, and the warm-up tatami was a hive of activity.
Japan’s Kosuke Mashiyama started the day off strong.
Mr. Albano Carrisi, IJF Ambassador & World-famous Singer & Songwriter awarded him the under 90kg category Gold.
Our man of the day was Russia’s Niiaz Bilalov, taking on fan favourite Shady Elnahas of Canada.
Bilalov executed an incredible o-Soto after an epic contest going into Golden Score.
Vice President of the International Judo Federation and President of the EJU Mr. Sergey Soloveychik awarded the medals.
“I’m really glad that I caught El Nahas,” explained Bilalov. “I was pleased it was such a beautiful technique. I wasn’t preparing for that attack specifically, but I’m happy that it worked.”
There were two women of the day, Luise Malzahn and Renee Lucht, both of Germany.
Lucht faced Adiyasuren Amarsaikhan for the over 78kg category glory, and it truly was glorious, with a massive winding technique launching her Mongolian opponent through the air for the knockout blow.
Celebrating to her friend and fellow Woman of the day, Malzahn, she took her first Grand Slam Gold.
IJF Events Director Dr Lisa Allan awarded her the gold medal.
Luise Malzahn walked out into the under 78kg class final after blistering preliminaries.
After some speculation that she would retire after the Tokyo Olympics, the German Judoka clearly came here to silence those rumours.
A thundering Ippon against Israel’s Inbar Lanir showed she is not just going to continue, as she intends to take Gold at the World’s top events.
Mr. Vlad Marinescu, Director General of the International Judo Federation, awarded the medals.
“Oh, it’s very special, and I am very satisfied and happy about the gold medal,” explained Malzahn. “Because we are training buddies in Berlin, and we are neighbours – we have the same address. So, it makes me very happy and very proud that we can show that we can win gold today.”
In the over 100kg category, Saito Tatsuru claimed Japan’s beloved over 100kg gold at his first-ever Grand Slam event.
Perhaps beginning to follow in the footsteps of his father, two-times Olympic Champion Saito Hitoshi.
Fully focused in the final, the 19-year-old wheeled his opponent over for the coveted Ippon.
The medals were awarded by IJF Education & Coaching Director Mr. Mohammed Meridja.
The local Judoka put on an increasingly spectacular show throughout the entire event, with the Azerbaijan heavyweights rising to the challenge set by their lighter teammates.
But a medal-winning Ippon is always special, and World silver Medallist Ushangi Kokauri gave the home fans just that to cheer about which wrapped up a phenomenal tournament here in Baku, the wonderful capital city of Azerbaijan.