Judo Grand Slam in Baku gets underway on day one

Tara Babulfath (SWE) winning her semi-final.
Tara Babulfath (SWE) winning her semi-final. Copyright IJF
Copyright IJF
By IJF with Euronews
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The rise of young Swede, Tara Babulfath, a first year junior and just 18 years old, was impossible to ignore. Her gold medal in Baku was nothing less than staggering.


As the journey to this summer’s Olympic Games continues to pick up pace, The International Judo Family was once again back in Azerbaijan for the 10th edition of the Baku Grand Slam.

The event was opened by Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan Mariana Vasileva, Rashad Nabiyev, President of the Azerbaijan Judo Federation, and the President of the International Judo Federation, Marius Vizer.

Current world number one and reigning world champion Christa Deguchi took the Baku title at -57kg. Her opponent in the final, reigning Olympic champion Nora Gjakova was unable to compete due to injury.

She was awarded the gold medal by President of the International Judo Federation, Marius Vizer.

At -60kg Ramazan Abdulaev was delighted to maintain his title from last year’s Baku grand slam as he edged a tight battle in the final against current European champion Luka Mkheidze after the Frenchman was judged to have illegally thrown using his head.

He was awarded his medal by Azer Aliyev, General Secretary of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaija.

At -48kg it was youth versus experience as Sweden’s rising star Tara Babulfath took on world number five and five time grand slam finalist Milica Nikolic. It was the youngster that prevailed with Babulfath throwing and securing a hold for her first medal on the World Judo Tour.

“I like when people are there and they’re screaming, it gives you a lot of confidence and you’re very happy so I’m proud of myself and I have a very amazing team around me - so amazing,” said Babulfath.

Deputy Secretary of Security Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan Madat Guliyev was on hand to award the medal.

At -66kg Spain's Alberto Gaitero Martin showed off his supreme groundwork skills to twice free his leg and hold down Daikii Bouba of France.

Gaitero Martin's quarter-final win.
Gaitero Martin's quarter-final win.IJF

The medals were awarded by Vice President of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan Chingiz Huseynzade.

“A lot of countries in this area have a really good atmosphere and I like to fight here - I have fought here for a lot of years and this is my first medal in Baku,” said Martin.

The final of the -52kg category was a superstar showdown with Odette Giuffrida against Diyora Keldiyorova. The pair fought hard but it was Keldiyorova who triumphed, countering the Italian for a waza-ari score and her fifth Grand Slam title.

She was awarded her medals by Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan Mariana Vasileva.

For the local Azeri team, Balabay Aghayev took home the bronze medal.

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