All Tajik final delights home fans on day two of the inaugural Dushanbe Judo Grand Prix
Tajikistan is forging forward as a nation and day two of the inaugural Dushanbe Judo Grand Prix was played out in front of yet another full house - with the excited fans improvising a home-made display in the sold-out stadium.
First-ever grand prix gold for Kristo
Croatia's young star Katarina Kristo secured a break-out win at -63kg, defeating Spain's Sarai Padilla Guerrero to secure her first-ever grand prix gold.
Mohammed Meridja, the IJF Education & Coaching Director, awarded the medals and the sound of the Croatian national anthem playing throughout the arena was an emotional moment for Kristo.
"I never saw this kind of crowd, in the world or any other championships," she said afterwards. "This is a very special place, and they really love judo. I feel very welcome here with all the crowd and cheering. I’m not from their country and they still cheered for me, and I’m very thankful for that."
Makhmadbek Makhmadbekov took on home favourite Behruzi Khojazoda at under 73 kilos and a fantastic attack won him the gold after just 30 seconds.
Nurshed Mashrabov, the Dushanbe Judo Federation Chairman, gave out the medals.
Margaux Pinot of France took the -70kg gold in just 10 seconds with a lightning-fast attack.
Vlad Marinescu, IJF Director General, awarded the medals.
Sportsmanship brings crowd to its feet
It was an all-Tajik final at under 81 kilos, to the delight of the home crowd.
Somon Makhmadbekov took the gold - and when he raised the defeated Shodmon Rizoev's hand, the display of sportsmanship brought the crowd to its feet.
Ismoil Mahmadzoir, the Tajikistan Judo Federation President, awarded the medals.
“I think we can say it was a brotherhood final," Makhmadbekov said afterwards. "We see each other all the time, we train together a lot at the same club, we are brothers”
It’s difficult to describe in words just how much the people of Tajikistan love Judo. There are many great crowds on the World Judo Tour, but the passion in Tajikistan from start to finish rivals the very best of them, and the judoka thrive on this heartfelt and deafening support.
With the Tajik world number one Temur Rakhimov fighting at over 100kg tomorrow, it'll be a day not to be missed.