On the final day of the Tashkent Grand Slam 2021, a lively crowd cheered on some of the juggernauts of judo.
Our man of the day was Belgium’s Toma Nikiforov who claimed his first ever Grand Slam gold medal in Tashkent. After dynamic preliminary rounds, he faced off in the gold medal match against Bulgaria’s Boris Georgiev. Nikiforov emerged victorious after two stunning wazaris.
The medals were presented by the Vice President of the United World Wrestling Association, Mr Akhrol Ruziev. And when his achievement sunk in, Nikiforov was quite emotional.
"My mother was crying of course, because I’m really close with my mother and they know from what period I came from," explains Nikiforov. "So they know that I’ve suffered a lot and they’re just really even more happy than me, and I’m also happy that finally, I bring a medal to my little daughter."
In the under-78kg heat, Umeki Mami scored wazari with a strong harai goshi and held down Croatia’s Karla Prodan to achieve the ippon. Giving Japan a staggering nine gold medals in Tashkent overall.
President of The International Teqball Federation, Mr Gábor Borsányi presented Mami her gold medal and she told reporters:
"We Judoka, we can say that our main battlefield is on the _tatami _(judo matt), that's where we can shine. So I am very happy to be back fighting, and really delighted that I managed to win the Gold medal.
The Women's over-78kg bouts saw World Champion Akira Sone defeat Brazil’s Beatriz Souza in a tactical victory. The medals were awarded by Mr Oybek Kasimov, General Secretary of the National Olympic Committee of Uzbekistan.
In the over-100 kilo category, Kageura Kokoro clinched an incredible on-the-buzzer wazari to win the gold. The medals were presented by the President of the Sambo Union of Asia, Mr Alam Mullaev.
In the under-90KG category, former champions Inoue Kosei and Ilias Iliadis watched on from the coach seats as Nagasawa Kenta and Davlat Bobonov slogged it out for the top spot. A decisive wazari in golden score from Nagasawa sealed yet another Japanese gold medal. This time, presented by the President of the Judo Federation of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr Azizjon Kamilov.
Japan and Mongolia took most of this year's top spots in Tashkent but Uzbekistan clinched 2 silvers and a bronze. Local crowds were thrilled with strong performances from their home competitors and a weekend jam-packed with jaw-dropping judo mastery.