17 February 2024


IBSA Grand Prix Heidelberg 2024


The first day of the IBSA Grand Prix in Heidelberg saw Asia dominating and Europe scooping in with three golden performances. All in all, we witnessed kindness, outstanding sportsmanship, focus, a few upsets, yet plenty more smiles, all of which was accompanied by high standard judo skills.

J1 -48kg 

The first final of the day delivered an all-European final via Nataliya NIKOLAYCHYK (UKR) vs Ecem TASIN CAVDAR (TUR) with both judoka displaying outstanding transition skills. At the end, a waza-ari worth counter attack from the Ukrainian judoka, with an already mentioned skilful transition, followed by a juji-gatame allowed the current world champion, Nikolaychyk, to celebrate another gold.

J2 -60kg 

Ukraine doubled the joy when Davyd KHORAVA defeated Paralympic champion, Vugar SHIRINLI (AZE). The latter walked out for the final in his gold back number, making a statement. Current European champion, Khorava, was not put off by that at all and although the contest went into golden score, it was Khorava who made The Champion tumble over for waza-ari. 

J1 -73kg 

Europe was once again guaranteed a gold medal in the J1 -73kg category as world and European champion, Florin Alexandru BOLOGA (ROU) was up against world bronze medallist, Lenart SASS (GER). Bologa has been undefeated in 2023 and at every single previous bout between the two, the german judoka took a loss. Not today, as he instantly dominated the Romanian judoka with a top right sided grip. Heading into the last minute of the contest, Sass scored for waza-ari before ending all matters whilst shining his ne-waza skills.

Sass, who himself is from the city of Heidelberg, expressed his feelings after the medal ceremony;

It was amazing, the home crowd was with me. It was a positive pressure to compete at home. I enjoyed all support and the good preparation for this event. I can show other judoka my everyday life, where I train, live, and study so I am very proud that Germany organised this tournament and even more proud to win a gold medal here. It is unbelievable. 

As per the final, I have respect for all athletes especially Alex, he has a lot of experience. I only started with international events in 2022 so it is an amazing development. Opponents like Alex are important because they push me to work harder and today it was a good day for me. 

Sass will likely attend at the last two qualifying events in Antalya and Tbilisi. 

The day begin with the opening ceremony, where both, the Vice President of the German Disabled Sports Association and National Paralympic Committee of Germany, Dr Karl Quade and IBSA Chairman, Mr Tardos Janos addressed the crowd.

Dr Quade: Warm welcome in Heidelberg. A city with very good history in paralympic sport. I remember in 1972 the first Paralympics taking place here in Heidelberg. Very special welcome for all athletes, teams, representatives of IBSA, the International Judo Federation, the European Judo Union, and German Judo Federation. A very big thank you to the federal government, regional government, the city of Heidelberg and all other sponsors to support the event. I hope all the athletes will have a very good competition here and their wishes come through and I hope their will represent their countries at the Paris Paralympic Games.

Mr Tardos: On behalf of the IBSA Judo committee, thank you very much for the local organisers, the national paralympic committee and all the stuff, international and local staff. We start the last three events ahead of preparation for the Paris Paralympic Games and athlete fighting for a spot to go to Paris. With the changes after Tokyo, we are stronger than ever. I wish good fight, good luck and all the best for everybody.

Here in Germany, we are not done yet. Tomorrow will bring all remaining categories. Tune in for all action live online via IBSA YouTube Channel

Images: Ralf Kuckuck, DBS

Author: Szandra Szogedi