3 May 2024


Dushanbe Grand Prix 2024


Day one of the Dushanbe Grand Slam, the first edition with this upgraded status, gave space for the home team of Tajikistan to demonstrate their value. In the -60kg category, Muhammadsoleh QUVATOV brought tremendous joy to the spectators in the Kasri Tennis Arena as well as President, Mr Ismoil MAHMADZOIR, with a superb gold medal win. Haqdod GULOV also took a fifth place in the same category. In the -66kg category, Mulorajab KHALIFAEV (TJK) took the bronze medal, and Obid DZHEBOV took the third medal for the team, a silver, which put them at the top of the medal standings.

In the women’s -48kg category, Milica NIKOLIC (SRB) and Tugce BEDER (TUR) bested last weeks performances, both disappointed losing out for bronze in the European Championships, but neither were settling for 5th place this week, Nikolic grabbed bronze, and Beder the silver. Nikolic repeated the same contest for bronze against Catarina COSTA (POR) but changed the record.

Fighting someone like her [Costa] is hard, she always fights well in the medal contests, and in golden score! Last week in the European Championships I was disappointed but that is behind me now and after this medal I can focus on the World Championships.

The -52kg category final was an all-Swiss match up between Fabienne KOCHER and Binta NDIAYE. The latter is ahead in the qualification by 600 points however regardless of the result her, Kocher may close the gap but Ndiaye will still be ahead. Almost a minute in to golden score, Ndiaye was issued a third shido score, putting the more experienced world bronze medallist on top of the podium for her first Grand Slam win.

We fight a lot in training, I wasn’t as tactical as I was in my previous ones. I felt quite safe when I thought I’d scored, but when I watched the replay, I thought it was fair that it wasn’t scored. The whole day was great though, even in the warm up area you hear the crowd screaming so the energy was amazing. I’m really happy to have fought here.

With the -66kg category, it was dominated by Asia, leaving only one bronze for Ivan CHERNYKH (AIN), and then we looked to the -57kg women. Veronica TONIOLO (ITA), the recently awarded EJU Junior European Female Athlete of 2023, secured the first bronze medal, countering Maysa PARDAYEVA (TKM) with mere seconds left on the clock.

In the final, WRL #2 Jessica KLIMKAIT (CAN) took on Olympic silver medallist, Sarah Leonie CYSIQUE (FRA) for the gold medal in the -57kg category. Unfortunately for this pair, it ended in shidos, but it was clear both were on form, simply unable to battle through the strength of their opponent.

I came in to this competition knowing that I have to win it, so I tried to think of everything but! If I was so consumed in the aspect of winning, I would lose focus on the details and lose my concentration. Sarah and I know each other well, but I never take her for granted, she is such a physical athlete and she can really surprise you.


Author: Thea Cowen