24 March 2024


Tbilisi Grand Slam 2024


As always, the third day of the Tbilisi Grand Slam draws in the biggest crowds, with so many potential medallists and champions, it is irresistible. In 2023, three gold medals were claimed by Lasha BEKAURI, Ilia SULAMANIDZE and Gela ZAALISHVILI.

This year, the only athlete of the three returning to the tatami is the Olympic Champion, Bekauri. He has of course, delivered on his promise to his supporters and made it to the final against a strong opponent, Eljan HAJIYEV (AZE). The top seeded Georgian hero hasn’t struggled so much today, but taking on the Paris Grand Slam silver medallist could prove a little tricky. Though he does have his patriotic crowd in his corner.

With top seed Anna Maria WAGNER (GER) taken out of the -78kg line up today, we looked to Alina BOEHM to perform, but she suffered defeat at the hands of Yuliia KURCHENKO (UKR). The competition between the German women is incredible in this weight, with another in the top eight, Anna Monta OLEK who isn’t competing here this weekend, but defeated Kurchenko for the Grand Prix gold in Austria.

Yuliia KURCHENKO (UKR) © Gabriela Sabau

Kurchenko has gone from strength to strength since her U23 European Championship win in Potsdam, now only three world ranking places and 1000 points behind team mate Yelyzaveta LYTVYNENKO who will compete for bronze. Meeting Kurchenko in the final is circuit veteran Guusje STEENHUIS (NED) who placed third in Paris and claimed gold in Baku, looking for a second title in 2024 right here in Tbilisi.

In the -100kg category, the Georgians would have been happy regardless of the outcome between Georgian flag bearer Mikheil JAPARIDZE and double World Champion, Nikoloz SHERZADISHVILI (ESP) of Georgian heritage of course. In the end, it was a score from the latter that put him in to the final against Shady ELNAHAS (CAN). The Canadian athlete was given a tough run by Austria’s man of the hour, Laurin BOEHLER who had won two European Open events before arriving at the bronze medal in the Upper Austria Grand Prix, and now a Grand Slam semi final. Boehler is still in with a shot at the medal however if he can best Islam BOZBAYEV (KAZ).

Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP) © Gabriela Sabau

As for the +78kg women, the semi finals both went against the assumed result, with Coralie HAYME (FRA) defeating Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) and Renee LUCHT (GER) taking out SONE Akira (JPN). For Hayme this is her first opportunity to take a gold medal at this level, whereas Lucht took a title in Baku in 2021, defeating Raz HERSHKO (ISR) on her way to the top. A second title will of course deliver a big chunk of ranking points and secure her Olympic position for Paris.

Finally, in the +100kg category, we are looking at a 2018 World Championships rematch between Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) and Ushangi KOKAURI (AZE). Olympic silver medallist may be carrying the responsibility for a Georgian gold, but Kokauri will have his own home support here, originally of Georgia as well.

Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) © Gabriela Sabau


Author: Thea Cowen