23 March 2024


Tbilisi Grand Slam 2024


For every athlete, the competitive chapter must come to an end, and today was marked with the retirement of judo legend, Avtandil TCHRIKISHVILI. The Olympic Palace was packed, all waiting to see one of their heroes take the stage and Tchrikishvili stood to thank his fans.

Passing through a tunnel of young judoka in blue and white, he took his spot and was awarded the Jigoro Kano statue by IJF Education and Coaching Director, Mohamed MERIDJA, on behalf of the IJF as well as a special medal of honour and exclusive chess by the Georgian Judo Federation and Fan Club. It was a wholesome ceremony, not only were fans present, but team mates past and present, celebrating their friend and the success he brought to their nation.

President of the Georgian Judo Federation, Giorgi ATABEGASHVILI, took centre stage to address the arena and the retiring champion,

Dears friends, our supporters, thank you for your welcome for this champion. After seeing all the great moments of Tchrikishvili, the emotions and enjoying these moments together, I would like to, on behalf of the clubs and judokas, thank Tchrikishvili for all that he has given to Georgian Judo, we love you very much.

The formal presentation of Avtandil Tchrikishvili’s retirement. © Tamara Kulumbegashvili

Tchrikishvili was humbled to be standing in front of so many fans, not only from his home nation, but many staff who have followed his career for many years and have celebrated his wins along the way,

I would like to thank you all for being here, all that have supported me, that you have found the time to join me on my day. It is sad, but today I must stop. Firstly I would like to thank my family, they have always been with me, and of course to my wife. I have had many accomplishments with her and she has been my biggest supporter. I am thankful to you all, and I am sorry that it must come to and end, but in my coaching career, I hope you can all come to me, I hope I can pass on my knowledge and experience and be a great coach. You are all welcome, I believe I can help the future generation. Thank you to the IJF during my sporting career, during all times. To all my friends, my sparring partners, my personal and national coaches. A special thank you to Zurab Kakhabrishvili, I am forever grateful to meet all of these kind people. Finally, thank you to the federation for this organisation.

Tchrikishvili won the World Judo Championships in 2014, Chelyabinsk, defeating Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN) in the final, he became three-time European Champion, earning titles in Budapest, 2013, Montpellier, 2014 and in the European Games in Baku, 2015. With so many accolades, not inclusive of his numerous IJF World Tour achievements, his most memorable win was the European Games.

This final in Baku, it was the greatest memory, I was losing the contest against Ivan Nifontov and I managed to turn it around to win, it was a great accomplishment. Now these wins will fuel me in my future career as a coach, I was to take my experiences and make judo players that are better than me.

All hail Avtandil Tchrikishvili! © Tamara Kulumbegashvili

Now that his term as a competitor has come to an end, we wish Tchrikishvili the very best of luck in all of his endeavours and that one day we see him back on the circuit coaching the future generations of Georgian Judo. As tradition demands, Tchrikishvili was carried on the shoulders of Guram TUSHISHVILI and Giorgi BERIASHVILI around the arena to celebrate with his supporters, whilst a men’s choir sung him out of the Olympic Palace in an emotion-filled goodbye.

Author: Thea Cowen