A Golden day for Azerbaijan

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By Euronews
Saied Mollaei at the IJF Baku Grand Slam 2022 Day 2
Saied Mollaei at the IJF Baku Grand Slam 2022 Day 2   -   Copyright  Gabriela Sabau IJF

The second day of the 2022 Baku Grand Slam saw the famous Heydar Aliyev stadium filled with the deafening cries of the Judo-crazy crowd.

At -63kg Inbal Shemesh was on fire! The powerful Israeli cleverly countered Geke Van Der Berg of the Netherlands to take her second-ever Grand Slam title; both coming in 2022. 

She was overwhelmed with emotion to continue her fantastic year and Mr. Marius Vizer, President of the IJF was on hand to award the medals.

I’m always getting emotional.

I really enjoy what I do, and when it’s going so good I can’t hold myself together, so it just comes out.

I’m really happy.
Geke Van Der Berg
Gold Medal winner

Local hero Hidayat Heydarov had been on fire all day, with one brilliant technique after another, he blasted his way into the -73kg final, using a phenomenal variety of techniques.

Azerbaijan seemed to be anticipating his victory, and the crowd blew the roof off the stadium when he gave them exactly what they wanted!

He was awarded his medal by Mr. Rashad Nabiyev, President of the Azerbaijan Judo Federation.

“Yes, I won the Baku Grand Slam once again, and to win in front of such a passionate home crowd is indescribable”
Hidayat Heydarov
Gold Medal winner

At -70kg Olympic and World Medallist Sanne Van Dijke of the Netherlands defeated Gabriella Willems of Belgium to take her third Grand Slam gold.

She was awarded her medal by Mr Mohammed Meridja, Education & Coaching Director of the IJF

At -81kg, Judo hero and Olympic Silver Medallist Saied Mollaei took his first Gold in 3 years, bringing the Azerbaijan tally to 3 Gold medals at their home event. The medals were awarded by IJF Guest Mr. Cornel Varvara.

Continuing the incredible momentum of the day, the rest of the local team gave the excited fans in attendance plenty to cheer about, with some incredible Ippons from both the men’s and women’s teams. 

All this and still with the final day of one of the most successful Baku Grand Slams’ on record - what a way to celebrate 50 years of Judo in Azerbaijan.