Celebrating 50 years of judo, Azerbaijan team shines at Baku Grand Slam

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By Euronews
Azerbaijan's Zelym Kotsoiev takes home the gold on Day 3 of the Baku Grand Slam. The host nation has won gold every day of the tournament.
Azerbaijan's Zelym Kotsoiev takes home the gold on Day 3 of the Baku Grand Slam. The host nation has won gold every day of the tournament.   -   Copyright  Gabriela Sabau/IJF

Day 3 of the Baku Grand Slam saw yet more success for the host nation.

Zelym Kotsoiev was the hero of the day, completing a fantastic achievement for the Azerbaijan Judo team, ensuring they won Gold on all three days in Baku.

A fantastic piece of footwork brought the crowd to their feet.

Azer Aliyev, General Secretary of Azerbaijan NOC was on hand to award the medals.

"The crowd was a great motivation when I was walking out to the tatami," Kotsoiev said. "I felt this incredible atmosphere immediately. Losing wasn't an option, and winning the gold medal in the year of the 50th anniversary of Judo in Azerbaijan makes me especially proud"

Children have packed out the stadium during the entire Grand Slam, cheering on their heroes. On day 3, one of those young fans had the chance of a lifetime.

Eight-year-old Muhammed Shahverdili took on former World Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist Saeid Mollaei in the final block of the Baku Grand Slam. His coach was none other than Azerbaijan Olympic Champion and true Judo hero Elnur Mammadli.

The charming moment of friendship and fun was a beautiful way to celebrate 50 years of Judo in Azerbaijan.

At -78kg Italy’s Alice Bellandi looked back to form after a disappointing World Championship.

A fantastic combination of attacks earned her gold and saw her back to the incredible form she has shown all year.

She was awarded her medals by IJF Sport Director Skander Hachicha.

“It was a good atmosphere, people cheering, people love judo," Bellandi said. "It’s really good to take photos and do interviews. It’s good, it’s cool."

At -90kg veteran Marcus Nyman had yet another successful comeback to elite Judo, defeating Nemanja Majdov with a fantastic footsweep.

He was awarded his medal by Vlad Marinescu, Director General of the IJF.

At +78kg Milica Zabic won the only gold of the tournament for Serbia. In the final she defeated Rochele Nunes of Portugal.

The medals were awarded by IJF EC Member Dr Lisa Allan.

At +100kg Temur Rakhimov from Tajikistan won his first grand slam gold medal, demonstrating beautiful judo in the final against Uzbek Alisher Yusupov.

The medals were awarded by IJF Head Referee Director Ki-Young Jeon.

As if claiming gold on all three tournament days wasn’t enough, the entire rest of the local team was on fire all day, doing their country proud by successfully celebrating 50 years of Judo in Azerbaijan.