26 March 2024


Antalya Grand Slam 2024


After an exciting weekend of judo in Tbilisi, we head straight to Antalya for the next Grand Slam event, attracting even more judoka, a total of 661 from 96 nations, undoubtedly influenced by the beautiful weather on the southern coast of Türkiye.

Before the athletes can take advantage of the sun and recharge for the final sprint before the Olympic Games however, we have three days of competition, with many still vying for qualification, and others strategic seeding points. Last week, Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP) not only claimed his first gold medal in his new weight category of -100kg after two finals already this year, but those points shot him in to the seeding positions, a notable advantage he says, avoiding the best players in the early rounds.

This week, we have five #1 seeded athletes, all women on this occasion; Christa DEGUCHI (CAN/-57kg), Catherine BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD (CAN/-63kg), Assunta SCUTTO (ITA/-48kg), Diyora KELDIYOROVA (UZB/-52kg) and Barbara MATIC (CRO/-70kg). The latter took gold in Tbilisi and has been on a roll of success this year, feeling confident in the run up to the European Championships in four weeks time.

Hilal OZTURK and Kayra OZDEMIR (TUR) © Gabi Juan

For the home team, they have a strong entry as always and leading the charge as #8 seed of the -90kg category is Mihael ZGANK. After a win in Portugal, he went on to win the Paris Grand Slam and essentially have the best start to the year in his career, giving him plenty of will power to perform for his supporters here in Türkiye. Similar can be said for their leading lady, Kayra OZDEMIR in the +78kg category, who will be defending her 2023 title, and also had a strong start, adding to the Paris medal tally with the silver medal. The team have a double offence in this category with WRL #14 Hilal OZTURK, who has battled her way toward to top of this heavyweight category, carrying her cadet and junior success on to the senior circuit.

Vedat ALBAYRAK (TUR) © Carlos Ferreira

In the -81kg category, Vedat ALBAYRAK, two-time and current European Champion will give his all to be on top of the podium but will have a tough time with the likes of current Olympic Champion, NAGASE Takanori to challenge for the gold medal.

The lightweight women,; Sila ERSIN and Merve AZAK could certainly stir things up in the -48kg category, Ersin the Junior World Championships silver medallist as well as runner up in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, Azak on the other hand has two Junior European titles to her name and a third place position at the U23 continental level.

Hasret BOZKURT (TUR) © Gabi Juan

Hasret BOZKURT made a name for herself in the -57kg category during the Doha World Championships, taking a fifth place but removing former and current Olympic Champions; Rafaela SILVA (BRA) and Nora GJAKOVA (KOS) in the quarter alone. Following this stunning performance, she earned an IJF Award for her technical abilities.

All eyes with be on team Türkiye and willing them on to success on the home stage between the 29th and 31st of March. Follow the event at JudoTV.com!


Author: Thea Cowen