On the third and final day of the Portugal Grand Prix 2024, the world-class athletes put on a show-stopping performance, concluding the first event on the IJF World Tour this year. Eyes may already be looking towards next week as the Paris Grand Slam is on the heels of this Grand Prix, but let’s focus on the results of today.
There were some shocking opening rounds and Georgios KROUSSANIOTAKIS (CYP) became one of the most talked about during the early hours, taking out both UEOKA Kotaro (JPN) and current World Champion, Arman ADAMIAN (AIN). Though it was a 7th place finish in the end, it feels like he is just getting started.
As for medallists, the neutral athletes dominated in the -100kg and +100kg categories, Matvey KANIKOVSKIY was locked in an intelligently played grip fight with double World Champion Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI, but the latter lost out in the final seconds by uki otoshi. Inal TASOEV, another World Champion and top seed opening the 2024 season, proved there were no cobwebs to brush off and sealed his golden fate agains KIM Minjong with uchi mata.
Another commendable run was had in the -90kg category by Klen Kristofer KALJULAID (EST), who saw himself all the way to the final against seasoned opponent, Mihail ZGANK (TUR). It was a fierce final from the get go, and both continued this way in to golden score, in the end however it was a third shido for Kaljulaid that ended the contest.
Olympic qualification focus may be on Anna Maria WAGNER and Alina BOEHM in the -78kg category from Germany, but they’re throwing out yet more talent in the form of Anna Monta OLEK who topped the podium today. Already a hit as a junior athlete, she has moved somewhat seamlessly on to the senior circuit and proved that sometimes the basics are the best, snatching her gold medal by bracing an ura nage attempt by Metna LOBNIK (SLO) and transitioning directly in to kesa gatame.
Another youngster is pushing on through, and catching her team mate Kayra OZDEMIR. Hilal OZTURK is the future hopeful in the +78kg category from Türkiye and today she stole the show, defeating 2/2 of the Japanese heavyweight entries. Finally, she was victorious over MUKUNOKI Miki who was unable to escape the soto makikomi of Ozturk which scored the winning waza ari.
Now that this weekend is all done and dusted, the IJF team will be heading to Paris to prepare for the 50th edition of the event, and will be anticipating the upcoming Games in the French capital.
Author: Thea Cowen