First up in the final block on day two of the Jerusalem World Judo Masters 2022, was Gili SHARIR (ISR). Sharir was the only representative from the host nation in the final block, so to open it was not only a pleasure but being able to deliver the medal in front of a home crowd was a dream come true.
The European medals kept rolling as Angelika SZYMANSKA (POL) managed to secure her bronze with some nifty footwork against Anriquelis BARRIOS (VEN), and then for the final, Kosovo’s Laura FAZLIU and European silver medallist took on TAKAICHI Miku (JPN). Unfortunately a counter didn’t go to plan and instead was scored against, giving the gold to Japan, however this is still an incredible result for the young athlete who took the U23 European title as well this year, not only the senior silver. Fazliu adds to the gold medal of Distria KRASNIQI in the -52kg category.
In the -73kg category, the fortune was not on the side of the European athletes, with the medals going home to Uzbekistan, Canada and Brazil.
It was quite a different story in the -70kg women’s category where Lara CVJETKO (CRO) took bronze against Kim POLLING (NED) and then we were able to get excited about the all-European final between Michaela POLLERES (AUT) and Marie Eve GAHIE (FRA).
An initial score from the French and dominating style made it seem that she was in for a Masters title today but then Polleres found her footing and came back to level the contest with her own waza ari, and it was only a matter of time before the second came, securing the gold medal, not only her first gold in this event but also her first final. The pair have met on many occasions and most recently in the Oberwart European Open where Polleres took the win in front of a home crowd, today she told us she was simply thinking about that and envisioning a repeat.
As for the the -81kg category, we can boast that it was an all-European haul, with bronze medals taken my Matthias CASSE (BEL) and Alpha Oumar DJALO (FRA).
Of course the biggest showdown was saved for the final between current world champion and defending Masters champion, Tato GRIGALASHVILI (GEO) and Saeid MOLLAEI (AZE) who had captured the hearts of the fans today. It has been a huge year for the Georgian, who took the European and world championships titles and has now gone on to defend his title in style as always.
Though his performance was impressive today and of course in his final to take his second gold in these tournaments, his emphasis of success was placed more on his journey up until this point and those that have helped him on the way.
Of course it was a very hard year, a hard season for me because I won three major championships this year. European Championships, I won. World Championships, I won. And now the World Judo Masters. I need some rest now but I can say that these victories, they aren’t just to my credit, I need to say many thanks to my coaches, my team, the doctors because we have got these results together.
Another reason to celebrate is the recent announcement that he was crowned Male Athlete of the Year, nominated by the Georgian Olympic Committee, truly rounding off the season in the most magical sense.
This is the first time that I am the Athlete of the Year, nominated by the Georgian Olympic Committee, there are many talented athletes, other ones like [Lasha] Talakhadze in weightlifting, many times world and Olympic champion, in judo like Shavdatuashvili, Liparteliani and the others, super athletes. I have been nominated best of the best and of course this is a huge motivation for me and I’d like to say thanks to the Georgian Olympic Committee and once again to my team mates, friends, coaches, doctors.. journalists, really, because this is one more title in my career, I’m very happy, what a fantastic year.
There is still one more day to go in this years Masters event and we will see the -90kg, -78kg, -100kg, +78kg and +100kg battle it out to see who will finish the year on top.
Author: Thea Cowen