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Judo: a great day for the host nation at the Tbilisi Grand Slam

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By Mark Armstrong
Gela Zaalishvili wins in spectacular style
Gela Zaalishvili wins in spectacular style   -   Copyright  International Judo Federation   -  

In international judo, day three of the Tbilisi Grand Slam was another cracking one for the host country Georgia as the heavyweights stepped up.

At -90kg, Beka Gviniashvili was on fire, a combination of clever footsweeps and raw power earned the Georgian a spot in the final against Krisztian Toth, and once there another footsweep earned him the Gold.

It was a fantastic display of sportsmanship, displaying typical Judo values of friendship and respect, bringing the eager crowd to their feet to honour two great warriors.

Georgian Judo Federation President Giorgi Atabegashvili awarded the medals.

The Wagnerian ascent

The current -78kg World Champion Anna Maria Wagner continued her brilliant return to competition, her uchi-mata on display blasting her way through the preliminaries.

The Geman judoka took on former World Champion Mayra Aguiar of Brazil in the final, where her determination and drive earned her a decisive win. Wagner has yet to lose a fight on the World Judo Tour since becoming World Champion.

She was awarded her medal by IJF Events Director, Dr Lisa Allan.

“I think we will see at the Worlds. So hopefully at the Worlds, I'm at 100% and then we will see,” said Wagner after her victory.

One of Georgia’s strongest categories is in the -100kg, with Onise Saneblidze always at the forefront of this fiercely competitive category. And on this occasion, he finally stepped up to take his first-ever Grand Slam Gold.

In the final, it was the most enormous pickup that distinguished him in the minds of the home crowd.

He was awarded his medal by Georgian Judo Federation Vice-President, Tamaz Naveriani

“I can’t even describe this feeling," explained an elated Saneblidze. "Because of these emotions, you can see how much Georgian people love Judo. Many thanks to them for the fantastic support and this fantastic atmosphere here in Tbilisi sports hall.”

At +78kg France’s Julia Tolofua threw Nihel Cheikh Rouhou from Tunisia to take the Gold medal, receiving her honours from the IJF Education & Coaching Director, Mohamed Meridja.

In the +100kg category, last year's heavyweight winner Gela Zaalishvili defended his title in phenomenal style. The stadium was filled with deafening cries of adoring Georgian fans, an incredible way to finish the epic tournament. The medals were awarded by IJF Head Referee Director, Armen Bagdasarov.

A fantastic element of the Tbilisi Grand Slam is that the home nation can stand atop the podium proudly and put on a spectacular show at the same time.

Additional sources • International Judo Federation