11 May 2024


Astana Grand Slam 2024


In the final stretch of the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifying, the second day of the Qazaqstan Barysy Grand Slam 2024 delivered another ecstatic day of judo. The host nation won another two bronze medals whilst European athletes created new memories, some which at a greater value ahead of the summer show. 

Katarina Kristo (CRO/-63kg) 

After a set back during the most recent Europeans, finishing 5th place on home soil, Kristo is back on form. A little under a year ago that the Croatian judoka bagged her first ever grand prix title. In Astana, after defeating her team mate Iva Oberan in the semi-final, Krisko had one last hurdle left to grasp her first grand slam title. She needed to overcome no other than double world medallist, Andreja Leski (SLO). Although the audience had no active score to cheer for, a tight contest ending in penalties was on offer instead. When Leski received her last and final shido [penalty], Krisko stood in roaring celebration expressing her relief and fulfilment. During the IJF Golden Score show, she expressed her thoughts further; 

I was really motivated, I wanted that gold medal, it is a lot of point for the Paris Olympics. Me and my teammate are really close on the ranking, so I was ready to leave it all on the mat today. I came to the final to leave everything out. I don’t know what to say, I am over the moon.

Dena Pohl (GER/-63kg) 

The German judoka known in two weight categories, -63kg and -70kg. It is Pohl’s second year in her current weight division and the move seems to be paying off. Whilst Astana was not her first final block rodeo on the IJF World Tour, the event provided her with yet another medal opportunity which she took advantage of overcoming Iva Oberan (CRO) during their bronze medal bout. Pohl walked away with her own new memories winning her first ever grand slam medal.  

Kim Polling (ITA/-70kg) 

The first outing for Polling under the Italian flag went well as she booked herself in the final block as one of the bronze medal contenders. To claim her first IJF World Tour medal for Italy, she needed to overcome Eliza Wroblewska (POL). A lower right sided seoi-nage allowed Polling to celebrate new memories with her new team. 

Tais Pina (POR/-70kg) 

The 19-year-old judoka had given a taste of her talent already this year, first with a near Paris Grand Slam medal and then a silver at the Antalya Grand Slam. In the final, the Portuguese judoka pressured world silver medallist, Lara Cvjetko (CRO) from the get-go. Halfway into the second minute of their contest, Pina got hold of her opponent lifting Cvjetko off and back with a ure-nage. The junior judoka yet caused another storm, winning her first grand slam gold and stepping closer to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. 

The third and final day of the Qazaqstan Barysy Grand Slam 2024 will start at 10:30am local time. Watch all action live online via JUDOTV. Best of luck to all participants.

Author: Szandra Szogedi