“Judoka are thinking of one thing and only one thing right now: Rio de Janeiro. The Baku Grand Slam is the last big chance for those without enough points and those who want to be top seeds.
A Grand Slam means 500 points for every winner, which is to say an almost guaranteed ticket to Brazil. That is why there are so many here in Baku, 449 in total, 280 men, 169 women and all of them ready to fight,” reports Pedro Lasuen from Azerbaijan.
For the next three days audiences are in for a treat as some of the world’s finest fighters go for broke and those last Olympics places, and euronews has special coverage throughout.
Russia’s Mikhaïl Pulyaev needed all of 29 seconds to put an ippon over on Azmat Mukanov in the under 66 kilo category, and roared his supremacy as Russia’s number one at the weight afterwards, still smarting at missing out on the team for last month’s European Championships.
The fight for the bronze medal between Tarlan Karimov and Belgium’s Kenneth Van Gansbeke went to the local man, the only medal won by the hosts during the day’s competitions.
In the women’s under 57 kilo class Japan’s Tsukasa Yoshida beat British hope Nekoda Smythe Davis, producing a pair of yukos and a waza-ari in a strong final two minutes.
The surprise of the day on a day when none of the favourites took any risks for fear of injury came in the under 60 kilo class, where top seed and local hero Orkhan Safarov stunned his fans by losing to rookie Japanese fighter Ryuju Nagayama, in his first senior tournament. He made the final.
The action of the day was an ippon from Uzbek judoka Diyorbek Urozboev, on Hong Kong’s Yu Kin Ting, who should perhaps be renamed Yu Kin Fly.