Judo returned to the land of fire as the President of the International Judo Federation, Mr. Marius Vizer, alongside other distinguished guests officially opened the 2021 Baku Grand Slam at the Heydar Aliyev Sports Arena in Azerbaijan.
Japan’s Tatsukawa Rina kicked things off to an exciting start, executing a technically brilliant sacrifice technique to take the under 48kg category gold medal.
Mr. Marius Vizer, President of the IJF presented the medals.
Orkhan Safarov gave the host nation glory today in Baku, claiming Azerbaijan’s first gold of the tournament, and making him our man of the day.
A phenomenal o- Soto against Denis Vieru scored a brilliant Ippon, much to the delight of Mr. Rashad Nabiyev, President of the Azerbaijan Judo Federation, who gave Safarov his medal.
“Judo is so popular in Azerbaijan. And tournaments like this, the Baku Grand Slam, are so important to inspire the young generation,” declared Safarov.
Our woman of the day is Reka Pupp of Hungary who showed an incredible example of anticipatory Judo, which saw her counter Olympic Medalist Chelsie Giles of Great Britain.
IJF Ambassador and President of the Judo Federation of Russia Mr. Vasily Anisimov presented the medals.
“I said to myself I am good, I am better, I am strong, something like that," Pupp said. "I am very happy with this. Finally, I won a Grand Slam, because this is my first gold medal ever. So I am happy and I try to do the same.”
In the under 60kg category, Georgia’s Jaba Papinashvili also claimed his first Grand Slam gold medal with an explosive waza-ari.
Life President of the International Ice Hockey Federation, Mr. Rene Fasel, awarded the medals.
At the under 57kg class, Momo Tamaoki displayed her typically brilliant groundwork, turning over home-favorite Munkhtsedev Ichinkhorloo.
Mr. Chingiz Huseynzade, the Vice President of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan, awarded her the gold medal.
Young Azerbaijan Judoka were on form all day. One ippon after another, the ever-improving Azerbaijan team made the home nation proud. It is clear that this team will be one watch in the up and coming years, both because of their judo, and their passion, which has set the tournament ablaze.
The judo world eagerly awaits the next two days of the Baku Grand Slam.