New era, new faces, but experience was ever important at the European Judo Open

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The beautiful Arena in Zagreb played host to the final day of the Grand Prix in Croatia.

Azerbaijan’s Mammadali Mehdiyev was the man on form!

In the final, he took on the young Georgian Luka Maisuradze, and his experience was clear to see. A strong Kosoto attack scored him an emphatic Ippon and made him our man of the day.

Afterward, a great moment of sportsmanship was shown by the two athletes, as Mehdiyev helped up Maisuradze and another Gold medal went to Azerbaijan.

His Excellency Mr. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Croatia, was on hand to award the medals.

We asked Mehdiyev about the success of the Azerbaijan team.

“To be honest it was hard for me today,” explained Mehdiyev. “As you know yesterday Hidayat Heydarov won the gold medal, so I wanted the gold medal and to raise our flag too. Because of that, last night was for me quite stressful, so I’m happy to get the result.”

Our woman of the day was Karen Stevenson.

Walking out to fight with a big smile on her face, she took on the ever-improving Patricija Brolih of Slovenia. Securing a pin, Stevenson took her first-ever Grand Prix Gold.

Dr. Branislav Crnogorac, Technical Director of the IJF awarded the medals.

Stevenson explained why she has such a relaxed approach before the fight.

“Well, last year I realised I do this because I like it because it’s fun, so then bring out the fun, this will give me confidence, and I will fight in Paris – I’m ready.”

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Russian powerhouse Arman Adamian was his usual ferocious self in the under 100kg class. An epic Ura Nage fast became a common sight when he stepped on the tatami.

Blasting his way to the finals, it was two large scores, accumulating into the knockout blow of Ippon, that placed the Russian firmly on the top of the podium.

He is surely one to watch in the coming months.

Adamian was awarded his medals by Mr. Siniša Krajač, Secretary-General of the Croatian Olympic Committee.

At over the 78kg category, Julia Tolofua was victorious, giving France yet another Gold medal in Croatia.

Dr. Sandra Corak, Education Director of the IJF, awarded the medals.

At over 100kg category Dutch Jur Spijkers displayed explosive Judo on his route to his first-ever Grand Prix final.

A brilliant Ouchi gari scored Ippon and gave the dutchman a well-deserved Gold medal.

Mr. Ki-Young Jeon, Head Referee Director of the IJF, awarded the medals.

Croatian Judo fans had yet more to cheer about, as Marko Kumric stormed his way to the Bronze Medal contest with fast and effective Judo, both with dynamic standing techniques, and well-worked attacks on the ground.

The passionate Croatian took on former World Champion Gonzalez, and after going ahead early in the fight, held on to give the home nation yet another medal.

It was a perfect way for the sun to set on the 2021 Zagreb Grand Prix.

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