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Judo: A thrilling second day at the Baku Grand Slam in Azerbaijan

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By Louise Miner
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Judo: A thrilling second day at the Baku Grand Slam in Azerbaijan
Copyright  (c) Jensen Lars Moeller

The Heydar Aliyev Sports Arena lit up for day two of the Baku Grand Slam in Azerbaijan and it was Vedat Albayrak who stepped into the spotlight.

The powerful Turkish Judoka looked at his best as he stormed his way to the final, with a mixture of enormous throws and brilliant transition groundwork.

He met Croatia’s Dominik Druzeta, and scored an incredibly fast and powerful Ippon in the final, an enormous hip throw earned him the gold and made him our man of the day.

Mr. Ilham Zakiyev, Member of the IJF Hall of Fame, two-time Paralympic Champion, and Vice President of the Paralympic Committee of Azerbaijan awarded the medals.

“I’m feeling very happy," said Albayrak "because this one is my first competition after Olympic Games, and I wanted to make some medals here, and I’m happy that this is gold.”

IJF - Baku, Azerbaijan
Vedat Albayrak, Turkish judokaIJF - Baku, Azerbaijan

Great Britain’s formidable Lucy Renshall was our woman of the day. After taking silver at the Paris Grand Slam a couple of weeks ago she made it to the final again.

She faced Gankhaich Bold, where a well-worked bit of groundwork enabled her to hold down her Mongolian opponent for the Ippon score.

She was awarded her medal by the Minister of Defense Industry of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Madat Guliyev.

IJF Baku Azerbaijan
Lucy Renshall, GB judokaIJF Baku Azerbaijan

“I deal with the pressure," explained Lucy Renshall, "I know at home I train really hard, we work really well as a team at British Judo, and Jamie pushes me every single day, so I think just the motivation back at the centre of excellence is so good, and it just makes me driven for the next one.”

Russia’s Makhmadbek Makhmadbekov had a phenomenal day, defeating home favourite Hidayat Heydarov with this spectacular combination attack on the way to the final.

A passionate roar demonstrated how much this victory meant to him.

IJF, Baku, Azerbaijan
Makhmadbek Makhmadbekov, Russia JudokaIJF, Baku, Azerbaijan

In the final, he faced Ken Oyoshi of Japan, whom he got the better of in a tactical final.

IJF Guest and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Turbostroitel Judo Club Mr. Andrey Kholodnov gave him his gold.

At the under 70kg class, a gorgeous shoulder throw saw Japan’s newcomer Tareda Utana score an emphatic Ippon.

It was a technical masterclass, demonstrating the strength and depth of the Japanese team at this weight class.

IJF Guest Mr. Cornel Varvara awarded her the gold medal.

IJF, Baku, Azerbaijan
Tareda Utana, Japan JudokaIJF, Baku, Azerbaijan

The stars of the Azerbaijan team were here today, but it wasn’t just them who put on a show. Spectacular Judo from their entire team gave Judo fans much to cheer about. Strong groundwork secured a bronze medal for World Medallist Hidayat Heydarov.

However, the moment of the day saw the under 81kg category bronze medal match contested by two home Judoka, Hasil Jafarov and Eljan Hajiyev (bronze winner) with a wonderful display of sportsmanship to finish the day.