Host nation Azerbaijan leads medal table with 3 gold medalsOn Saturday was the first day of the IJF Judo Grand Prix, Baku 2012, which was held at the Sarhadchi Sport Olympic Center in the outskirt of Baku, in the presence of several high representatives of the IJF and of Azerbaijan.
Due to the end of the Olympic qualification process, which ended last week after the last continental championships, the level of participation was logically expected to be a little less high than last year's first edition of the Judo Grand Prix in Baku. Nevertheless, the judo that was proposed to a numerous and enthusiastic public was definitely very attractive. As an illustration of this, it must be noted that during the preliminaries, almost 70% of the men's fights were concluded by ippon, whereas the ippon's rate raised up to more than 80% for the women. As Mr. Vladimir BARTA explained: "it is interesting to see how the countries that are present here in Azerbaijan, used this year's edition of the tournament to test their new generation of fighters. We will probably see most of them again during our next IJF World Judo Tour events and that is a very good sign of the good health of our sport at the international level". Even if the points that were attributed today in Baku do not count for the Olympic qualification anymore, they still count for the IJF World Ranking List and the ranking may be significantly modified in some weight categories after today's results. Actually there will not be any major changes for the top ranked athletes, but many competitors, who were fighting today, will make an important leap forward in the World Ranking List.
The final of the women's -48kg opposed Ebru SAHIN (TUR) and Vafa EYVAZAOVA (AZE). The Under 20 European Champion, Ebru SAHIN, launched the first strong attacks, but without success. In the end Sahin won by ippon with a precise strangulation.
The last fight of the category U60kg opposed the local, Ilgar MUSHKIYEV (AZE), and the Georgian, George MESABLISHVILI. The final was a one way ticket to gold for Ilgar MUSHKIYEV (AZE) who successively scored two yuko, ending his competition day with a tremendous o-uchi-gari for ippon. The first Azerbaijan anthem could be played in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
Nothing could stop the Japanese, Nodoka TANIMOTO U52kg, until the final, where she faced Gulshan NAZAROVA from Azerbaijan. Earlier during the competition, Turane SEYIDI won the first medal for the host country of the Grand Prix, a bronze medal, widely celebrated by the packed crowed of the Sarhadchi arena. In the final, the first strong attack (ko-udhi-gari) was launched by the Japanese, but as a test and she didn't score. The second attack, again in a backward direction, after only 39 seconds, was a huge o-soto-gari, coming from far away but ending with a perfect ippon.
For the second time in a row, Japan with Masashi KODERA, put its fighter into the final U66kg but this time against the Russian, Mikhail PULYAEV (RUS), who in the semi final was loosing against Nijat SHIKHALIZADA, when he scored ippon with a surprising counter attack. In the final Kodera won in the golden score because of a penalty for the Russian. The two bronze medals were won by Tarlan KARIMOV (AZE) and Nijat SHIKHALIZADA (AZE), adding two more medals into the Azeri's purse.
The semi-final U57kg, gave the opportunity to Kifayat GASIMOVA to confirm her top ranked position, with a 12th position at the World Ranking List. The final was the shortest of the day. After only 15 seconds, GASIMOVA, who did not seem to feel really well all day long, begun to rotate faster and faster and threw the Canadian Melancon on
her back with a traditional but powerful sasae-tsurikomi-ashi.
The last final of the day U73kg opposed Mirali SHARIPOV (UZB) and Rustam ORUJOV (AZE) who respectively defeated Zebeda REKHVIASHVILI (GEO) and Hasan YILMAZ (TUR), both losers of the semi-finals finished bronze medallists. During the last minute, SHARIPOV, supported by his public could counter attack the Uzbek athlete and scored a first waza-ari. But that was not enough for him. He wanted to win by ippon in front of a warm and fair-play crowd, which was present until the last moments of this first day of competition. 20 seconds before the end of the fight, ORUJOV immobilized SHARIPOV and could relax and enjoy his title.
text: IJF Media
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