19 June 2024


Porec EJU OTC 2024


Giorgi SARDALASHVILI has arrived on the Poreč OTC in Croatia for some tough preparation for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. It has been exactly one month since the now-21 year old made history by becoming the youngest World Champion of Georgia, and after some time to reflect on his achievements, we want to know more about the superstar who is now ranked #2 in the world and defeated the Olympic silver medallist, YANG Yung Wei (TPE) for the 2024 World title at -60kg.

Starting judo at seven years old, Sardalashvili was guided by his father in to the sport, already a very popular discipline in Georgia, who had achieved Olympic and World success, with legends already having put the Caucasus region on the international map. In fact, it was the support of his parents that he has managed to live out his dream of becoming a World Champion, with the ultimate goal of taking Olympic gold as well. Though many of these Georgian icons came in the decades before, Sardalashvili has one particularly vivid memory,

As for idols, I don’t know, but in 2012 I was watching the London Olympic Games and when Lasha Shavdatuashvili won the gold medal for Georgia, I was very motivated and probably this was one reason I became so dedicated.

London 2012 Olympic Champion, Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) © EJU

The Georgian judo team is very tightly knit, with the more senior athletes including Shavdatuashvili and Vazha MARGVELASHVILI being able to pass on pearls of wisdom to their younger compatriots, however this new era of athletes have a clear bond. None more so than Sardalashvili and the defending -90kg Olympic Champion, Lasha BEKAURI. When asking about their friendship, the -60kg World Champion can boast of their close ties,

Yeah me and Lasha, we are the best duo in the team, and we have a lot of reasons for this. First is that we are from one side in Georgia and also we have the same personal coach [Lekso Gviniashvili] and the same judo club. When he became Olympic Champion, I didn’t have any medals and after his gold, he always helped me at training, and now too he teaches me a lot of things, as in life, because he is a rare person and of course also in judo.

It is a recurring theme, the strength of judo in the Georgian nation, which we see time and time again in the Tbilisi Grand Slam event and in the incredible following they have around the world. It seems that no matter which corner of the globe we venture to, be it on the EJU or IJF tour, there are always Georgian flags flying in the stands in support of their athletes.

In Georgia, judo is really great. Firstly because of our federation and our coaches work very hard, and secondly, Georgia is not a big country so Georgian fans play a big role because everyone knows our champions. You will be loved by people with this success, they get to know your personality and everyone will know you on the street, everyone wants to show you respect for your achievements, that’s more important, when you have a lot of cute moments and words from your people. We know that Georgian fighters have only the goal, to always keep our flag at the highest level, Georgian people know this well, that’s why judo is the greatest in Georgia.

After an exhausting final, Giorgi SARDALASHVILI (GEO) became the 2024 World Champion. © Gabi Juan

It would also appear that in spite of his years, Sardalashvili has had good judo values instilled in him in regards to success which will undoubtedly serve him well in his long career ahead,

Success has two sides, one side is to remain the same person you were and the other is to change, but the other side should not be considered by the athletes, so stay within the same circumstance you were in before success.

With the World Championships and Olympic Games so close, it could have been easy for Sardalashvili to be caught up in the hype and celebrations of becoming the youngest World Champion and allow for time to accept this, but it was brief,

I had a little time to celebrate and when I saw people’s emotions and smiles on their faces, I was very very happy because I was the reason for this and this is now a very big motivation for the Olympics. It was such a great feeling, but to be honest we didn’t go to any media TV because we tried to keep this energy, the focus is the Olympic Games and we must keep our minds solely on that. I will go down in history with World Champion status but I want to be in the books as an Olympic Champion because in Georgia, we don’t have a World and Olympic Champion in the same year, so I want my name to be written in history like this.

Winning a World title at 20 years old, and celebrating a 21st birthday only a week later, is something quite remarkable, by any standard. What is clear repeatedly however, is the maturity and wisdom that Sardalashvili seems to possess, likely gained from his experienced coaches as well as current and former team mates who have always acted as guide for the next generation.

I am 21 years old now, and I want this to be a great motivation for my future Georgians, because everything is possible and I have made such an incredible goal a reality, so I will be proud, if even one Georgian judoka has the thought that he should be better than me.

    The Champion. Giorgi SARDALASHVILI. © Carlos Ferreira


    Author: Thea Cowen