24 March 2024


Tbilisi Grand Slam 2024


Well they did it, Georgia finished on top of the medal table with an incredible four gold medals. On the third and final day, Lasha BEKAURI (-90kg) and Guram TUSHISHVILI (+100kg) stole the show, demonstrating their Olympic capabilities and giving the crowd something to shout about.

Bekauri was first to bring the stadium to life, and did so in explosive fashion against the Paris Grand Slam silver medallist, Eljan HAJIYEV (AZE), who had stormed his side of the draw today. Hajiyev attempted to throw a high cross grip down Bekauri’s back, which was a gift to the Georgian Olympic Champion who then attacked with o soto gari, adjusting a reinforcing the attack to score ippon and bring Georgia their third gold medal.

Lasha BEKAURI (GEO) © Tamara Kulumbegashvili

After losing out in the final of the Upper Austria Grand Prix, Yuliia KURCHENKO (UKR) had a bittersweet taste in her mouth and came out in Georgia with only gold in mind. The -78kg category certainly wasn’t a walk in the park today either with the likes of Audrey TCHEUMEO (FRA), team mate Yelyzaveta LYTVYNENKO (UKR) and Germany’s double European Champion, Alina BOEHM in the line up. Finally, after defeating Boehm, Kurchenko had the tough test of Guusje STEENHUIS (NED). It felt like an even bout, until Kurchenko attacked with ko soto gari, and continued to follow it, developing in to a tani otoshi, scoring ippon. This is the first Grand Slam gold for the young Ukrainian who will continue on her mission next week in Antalya.

Yuliia KURCHENKO (UKR) © Thea Cowen

The first IJF World Tour medal for Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP) was won here in Tbilisi in 2016, when the event was still a Grand Prix. Since then, the pressure of performing in front of his home crowd – given his Georgian heritage – was too great for him and he felt his performance was always hindered with nerves. Today however he embraced the crowd and the cheers of his family and friends in the stands, moving through the -100kg weight category. For Sherazadishvili, it was a slow start in his new weight before he was sidelined by an injury, however 2024 he has found himself in three finals, and today took the top spot, defeating Shady ELNAHAS (CAN) with a tremendous counter.

Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP) © Tamara Kulumbegashvili

Another athlete who was downed by injury was Renee LUCHT (GER), following her Grand Slam win in Abu Dhabi 2021, it has been a slow recovery but today luck was also on her side and with a dash of that to start the day, she went on to defeat the current Olympic Champion, SONE Akira (JPN). This win took her in to the final against Coralie HAYME (FRA), and with two shidos to her name, Lucht had no option but to go full on, and with this go big or go home attitude, she executed a huge ko soto gake, and followed down in to osaekomi for her second Grand Slam win.

Renee LUCHT (GER) © Tamara Kulumbegashvili

The icing on the cake was of course the Olympic silver medallist, Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO), who had a repeat of his 2018 World Championship final against Ushangi KOKAURI (AZE). Given the determination of Tushishvili and the hype of the crowd, losing simply wasn’t an option, and his signature drop seoi nage was enough to bring him the final win of the day and fly the Georgian flag.

Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) © Tamara Kulumbegashvili


Author: Thea Cowen