10 May 2024


Astana Grand Slam 2024


A few names one would have put a bet for gold on day one of the Qazaqstan Barysy Grand Slam 2024 are the likes of Shirine Boukli (FRA), Sarah Leonie Cysique (FRA), Walide Khyar (FRA), Elios Manzi (ITA) and Gefen Primo (ISR). Besides the latter, the rest had to settle for bronzes if at all. Is it really the time to be on form for these athletes thought? Not at all. 

This final grand slam of the Paris 2024 qualifying period is about many things such as securing a seeded position at the Olympics, yet trying to qualify, fetching more points to get the continental quota or simply gaining experience for LA2028. Each to their own and yes, there are a lot of judoka who needed to be on form today to keep their Olympic dream alive but it was not for those mentioned above. The French team in particular is always closely watched by the world and with hosting the Summer Games the pressure is piling heavily, yet, it was evident that their performance on day one was a test of their current form, if anything. 

So, what else had happened for Europe? 

Chen-Ling Lien of Taipei happened as she took out 2 of 3 Europe’s former world medallists (Telma Monteiro/POR , Julia Kowalczyk/POL) and former European Champion (Timna Nelson Levy/ISR) in the lower half of pool B of the -57kg category. On the bright side, Gefen Primo (ISR) won the -52kg category by four confident win against her opponents starting with Sofia Asvesta (CYP), Yerin Jung (KOR), Zhu Yeqing (CHN) and Larissa Pimenta (BRA). 

Finally, with Matteo Piras winning silver in the -66kg category he just extended the gap between himself and his team mate Elios Manzi in the final stretch of the qualifiers. It is important not to draw any conclusion on that as we have seen an Italian miracle playing out in this precise weight division ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Within the same weight category, Luukas Saha (FIN) hailed his first grand slam medal in a form of a bronze.

The second day of the event will start at 10:00am local time in Astana, Kazakhstan. Will it be another day of built and broken dreams once again? Watch live online via judotv to find out. Good luck to all competitors! 

Author: Szandra Szogedi