It is not often that an unseeded athlete storms to a Paris Grand slam title. Even more impressive when it happens to be a first ever Grand Slam appearance. But that is exactly what happened in the -60kg category as Azerbaijan’s Balabay AGHAYEV (AZE) confounded the pundits with a display that bore little resemblance to his previous competitive record.
Stepping in to the Bercy Arena for the first time must ran as one of the most can daunting tasks in judo, especially when your opponent is French. In his opening contest Aghayev faced Jolan FLORIMONT (FRA) who was making his fourth appearance at the Paris Grand Slam. Aghayev found himself in some difficulty, collecting two shidos as the contest went into golden score. Having come close to losing the contest Aghayev eventually came up with a beautiful left sided yoko otoshi for ippon. In the quarter-final came up against the promising KOGA Genki (JPN). Once again the Azeri went to go-to technique, yoko otoshi, to get the winning score and to take his place in the semi-final. Aghayev again found himself with two shidos and struggling in golden score, this time against ENKHTAIVAN Sumiyazabar (MGL) when he launched a speculative sode tusri komi goshi for waza ari. In the final Aghayev overcame Ramazan ABDULAEV (RUS) throwing the Russian for ippon after 2:13. A truly amazing end to what for Aghayev will surely be the most memorable of days. The bronze medals were won by Romain VLADIER PICARD (FRA) and ENKHTAIVAN Arunbold (MGL).
In the -48kg category the gold medal was won by KOGA Wakana (JPN) when in the final she defeated Melanie LEGOUX CLEMENT (FRA). The bronze medals were won by Blandine PONT (FRA) and Shrine BOUKLI (FRA).
In the -52 kg category the gold medal was won by Gefen PRIMO (ISR) when in the final she defeated Astride GNETO (FRA). The bronze medals were won by BISHRELT Khorloodoi (MGL) and Mascha BALLHAUS (GER).
Author: Sheldon Franco Rooks