The 2023 Tbilisi Grand Slam came to a dramatic climax with all three men’s golds going to hosts Georgia.
An all-Georgian final
To the delight of a packed stadium, Olympic Champion Lasha Bekauri faced current European Champion Luka Maisuradze for an all-Georgian final at -90kg.
And it was Bekauri who took gold in a very close contest.
Ioseb Baghaturia, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Culture, Sport and Youth handed out the medals.
“Thank you, first of all,” Bekauri said afterwards. “I think I can say today confirmed Georgia is the best Judo team in the world. Three Georgian anthems today in this fantastic venue with this fantastic audience. Congratulations to my two friends. I am so happy for the three gold medals.”
Wagner’s comeback is on track
At -78kg former world champion Anna-Maria Wagner from Germany showed her comeback is on track with a big win over in-form Alice Bellandi from Italy.
Imre Csősz from the IJF Sport Commission gave her her gold.
“Ah, it felt so good,” Wagner said afterwards. “And I screamed because I knew in the moment that was my waza-ari, and it was golden score, and it was my win, and it’s my medal… after a year.”
More success for the home nation
Youngster Ilia Sulamanidze brought more success for the home nation at -100kg, defeating Gonchigsuren Batkhuyag from Mongolia to take gold.
Armen Bagdasarov the IJF Head Referee Director awarded him his medal.
Israel’s Raz Hershko was on blistering form at over 78kg, using her superior speed to overcome Xin Su from China. Faissal Raguib from the IJF Sport Commission made the presentations.
Gela Zaalishvili completed the Georgian clean sweep of the day three men’s titles with victory over Munir Ertug from Turkey. David Kevkhishvili, the Georgian Judo Federation Vice President, gave him his gold.
Getting ready for Doha 2023
In addition to watching some spectacular judo, fans took part in a raffle organised by the Georgian Judo federation with a top prize of an all-inclusive trip to the World Judo Championships: Doha 2023! Backpatches signed by famous Georgian judoka were also up for grabs.
A magical end to three days in Tbilisi! See you next week in Antalya.