It was a tough day for the European’s in the heavyweight categories on the final day of the world championship event in Budapest, but the performances were second to none.
This was especially the case for Tamerlan BASHAEV (RJF) who mirrored his recent Grand Slam and 2020 European Championship performances that took him in to the final. We are used to seeing Bashaev, who is notably shorter than almost all of his opponents throw big, impressive for his stature. In his quarter final against Temur RAKHIMOV (TJK) this was especially the case.
Next up was his semi final opponent and young Georgian talent, Gela ZAALISHVILI. When preparing for this contest, the RJF representative was mindful of their previous head to head in the Tel Aviv Grand Slam where the Georgian came out victorious, but as Bashaev explains, this was due to a huge mistake on his part, one he certainly wouldn’t be making again.
Perhaps Zaalishvili was well aware of this and he was more concerned with defending than attacking because the contest was quite one sided, with Bashaev being the more active judoka, looking to win rather than defend.
In the end, the positive athlete came out on top, sending Zaalishvili to the bronze medal contest and Bashaev in the final.
The other +100kg finalist determined to take gold was KAGUERA Kokoro (JPN). Japan were leading the medal table and following an all-Japan final in the +78kg category, he had an even stronger will to become the fifth world champion for Japan this week.
It was a great final match up for the last contest of the individual competition, the crowd cheering them on. A to and fro contest ensued with the possibility of a win for either, then a waza ari score from Kaguera put the pressure on in the final minute. When all looked hopeless in the final 15 seconds, Bashaev did not give up, he was not yet defeated and followed his opponent to the ground in a last chance attempt in ne waza. Though it was extremely close, all in the arena on their feet for what looked like a last second surprise, he was simply unable to control Kaguera and settled for the silver, a win with a very narrow margin.
The Olympic team for RJF is yet to be announced so we will still need to wait and see if the now world silver medallist has done enough to secure the selection.
Author: Thea Cowen