17 February 2024


Baku Grand Slam 2024


The final block on day two saw a tough opening with the -63kg women’s category. The top seed and WRL #1, Catherine BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD (CAN) fought her way through her side of the draw, defending her ranking position, and continued to do so in the final against Lubjana PIOVESANA (AUT). The pair had a strong contest, Beauchemin-Pinard threatened quite a few times with ne waza, however Piovesana was prepared for this and defended successfully. After an incredible eight minutes of contest time, the now-Austrian representative took the Grand Slam gold medal with a signature ura nage. This win is an important one in this category, which also includes Magdalena KRSSAKOVA (AUT), these 1000 winning points will contribute to a significant move up the world ranking list.

Lubjana PIOVESANA (AUT) © Gabriela Sabau

The first of the men’s finals was the -73kg category and gathered great crowds as the current European Champion and world ranked number one, Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE) was looking for gold against Abubakr SHEROV (TJK), who is #82 in the world. It was a great day for Sherov and he continued to show his strength against the home favourite, Heydarov struggling to find his way in. However in the end, a minute in to golden score, Heydarov managed to throw with a swift sumi gaeshi, moving with his opponent to secure the score and win in front of the home crowd.

Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE) © Tamara Kulumbegashvili

Barbara MATIC (CRO) and Marie Eve GAHIE (FRA) took it to the final of the -70kg final, a fierce battle from the get go, and an initial score from Gahie, countering an attack from Matic. Leading for the majority of the contest, Gahie was managing quite well, but ended up being massively surprised, a deep drop seoi nage from the Croatian double World Champion taking her opponent over for the ippon score. This also pushes Matic up one place on the world ranking list.

Barbara MATIC (CRO) © Gabriela Sabau

The crowd were able to continue their celebrations with a guaranteed gold medal in the -81kg category, as an all-Azerbaijan final ensued between Zelim TCKAEV (AZE) and Omar RAJABLI (AZE). Tckaev has been on the up recently, also taking a silver medal in the Paris Grand Slam, and with it bringing himself a lot of attention. As many know, the most popular name is this category in Azerbaijan is Olympic silver medallist, Saeid MOLLAEI, but as of today, he is not the leading athlete. Regardless of the result, Tckaec was taking the lead, but even better for him, it was gold. Taking on his 20 year-old challenger, Junior European bronze medallist, Rajabli was no easy feat as they clearly know each other well. It was just a matter of time however, until Tckaev executed an ippon-scoring uchi mata for the win.

Zelim TCKAEV (AZE) © Gabriela Sabau


Author: Thea Cowen