29 March 2024


Antalya Grand Slam 2024


There was plenty to celebrate here in Antalya for the first day of the Grand Slam, medallists for the home nation gave the crowd something to shout about, and the locals were treated to an Olympic sibling double act from Japan with ABE Uta and Hifumi.

The only European in the -48kg final block was Sila ERSIN of Türkiye, and the only one of her nation with potential for a gold medal, though two men were still in the running for bronze. During the final block, joining delegations were a crowd of officials, clubs and children to support their medal hopes. For Ersin, she started 2024 strong with a fifth place finish in Portugal but was looking for a medal, and after taking silver in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam last year, her heart was set on gold. After defeating both world ranked number one, Assunta SCUTTO (ITA) and Antalya 2022 winner GANBAATAR Narantsetseg (MGL) to find her place in the final, she had one last hurdle, current World Champion, TSUNODA Natsumi (JPN).

Sila ERSIN (TUR) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the fairytale end Ersin was hoping for, thrown with tomoe nage for waza ari and finally submitted due to a juji gatame. The three-time World Champion may have taken the title here in Antalya, but the crowd continued to cheer and clap for their home representative and her silver medal. At #33 in the world ranking list, this result and 700 points, will make Ersin the top ranked for Türkiye in the -48kg category.

The current European Champion, Luka MKHEIDZE (FRA) took on Ayub BLIEV (AIN) in the final of the -60kg category, but first the crowd were able to celebrate the bronze medal from Salih YILDIZ, a second for the medal table.

Mkheidze had his work cut out for him against Bliev, who was doing all he could in ne waza to secure the osaekomi, but the French athlete stayed strong and avoided the hold. The pair headed in to the final minute with only shido on the board, with both demonstrating their gymnastic ability on the tatami to evade scores. Then only 18 seconds in to golden score, Bliev was able to counter a ko soto gari, his foot just inside to be able to score the waza ari for the gold medal.

Luka MKHEIDZE (FRA) © Tamara Kulumbegashvili

In the -52kg category, we saw a rematch of the 2022 World Championship final, as well as the Olympic quarter final between ABE Uta (JPN) Chelsie GILES (GBR). The expectations were admittedly high for the latter from Great Britain, one of the Olympic medal hopes for Paris 2024, and who has given Abe a good fight in the past, however she was caught cold today, and the current Olympic Champion secured the gold medal with uchi mata in only 9 seconds.

ABE Uta (JPN) © Tamara Kulumbegashvili

In brotherly fashion, ABE Hifumi followed suit and won the gold medal for Japan in the -66kg final against Nurali EMOMALI (TJK). Initially looking for the uchi mata, Abe switched direction and threw his opponent backwards with o uchi gari to score ippon in under a minute of contest time.

Concluding day one of the Antalya Grand Slam were the -57kg women, and battling it out for gold were Christa DEGUCHI (CAN) and Jessica LIMA (BRA). It seemed that Lima had her number on this occasion, the current World Champion, Deguchi, hitting a brick wall in normal time. The pair last fought only last week in the Tbilisi Grand Slam, but on that occasion it was the bronze medal on the line. Deguchi threw with a ‘sticky’ o uchi gari 50 seconds in to golden score to secure the top spot on the podium, hopping her opponent on to her back.

Christa DEGUCHI (CAN) © Tamara Kulumbegashvili

At the end of day one, Japan finish top of the table with three gold medals, followed by Canada and the Individual Neutral Athletes.


Author: Thea Cowen