The crowd at the 2023 Paris Grand Slam buzzed with excitement over the return of 10-time World Champion Teddy Riner.
And IJF President Marius Vizer gave the Judo family more to celebrate by signing a contract with Kazakhstan Judo Federation President Kuanyshbek Yessekeev that will add Astana and Almaty to the World Judo Tour.
A stylish win for Grigalashvili
Georgia’s Tato Grigalashvili claimed his first Paris title with a stylish counter against Germany’s Timo Cavelius.
IJF Vice President Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko handed him his -81kg gold.
In the -70kg category, Spain’s Ai Tsunoda defeated the French former World Champion Marie Eve Gahié to secure a maiden Grand Slam victory.
IOC Member Aïcha Garad Ali from Djibouti awarded the medals.
Noel Van T End took the -90kg title at the seventh time of asking with a gritty win over Murad Fatiyev from Azerbaijan.
IOC Member Filomena Fortes gave the dutchman his medal.
At -78kg, French stalwart Audrey Tcheumeo claimed an incredible sixth Paris Grand Slam gold to the delight of the home crowd.
IJF Vice President Dr Laszlo Toth made the presentations.
“I’m very happy to inspire people, you know,” said Tcheumeo. “It’s a goal for all humans in the world, I think. But inspiring people, for me, is at the top.”
Michael Korrel gave the Netherlands a second title with a victory against Dzafar Kostoev from the United Arab Emirates at the -100kg level.
Newly-appointed IJF Ambassador Lior Raz gave Korrel his second Paris gold – and also picked up a special diploma himself to celebrate his new role in the Judo family.
South Korea’s Kim Hayun earned a first-ever grand slam gold with a win over Japan’s Maya Akiba in the women’s heavyweights.
Prince Fahad Bin Jalawi, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia NOC Vice President, handed her the medal.
The return of the king
Then came the return of the king. Teddy Riner was in impressive form – dominating the heavyweight qualifiers before securing a tactical victory in the final against Japan’s Hyoga Ota.
It was the win the crowd had wanted and it sent Riner’s supporters wild.
Max-Hervé George, the CEO of Icona Capital, handed Riner the gold.
“You fight for these people, for your country,” said Riner. “It’s a pleasure. It has been a long time since my last fight here, wow… It’s great, the sensation… The feeling is good.”
It was a fitting climax to the 2023 Paris Grand Slam.