26 January 2024


Odivelas Grand Prix 2024


There may have been Asian domination in of the Portugal Grand Prix 2024, the opening evening for the IJF World Tour, however the attention was stolen by sister (twins actually) act, Mascha and Seija BALLHAUS. On occasion, the -52kg Mascha has swiped a medal, while Seija has been forced to settle for an 57kg 5th place, but not today. With families and partners looking on, both performed incredible and were able to cheer for one another, and then both stand on the podium.

Though there was potential from two athletes to take gold for Europe on day one, but in the end, four gold medals went to the Asian nations; Uzbekistan (2), Japan and Republic of Korea, as well as one for neutral athlete, 2021 World Champion in the -60kg category, Yago ABULADZE.

Abuladze, now in the -66kg category, took on Yashar NAJAFOV (AZE) for the gold medal and it was an exciting round. The WRL #9 Najafov could also share in the celebrations with his team mate Kamran SULEYMANOV who took bronze in the same category, as well as bronze – and only EJU – medallist in the -60kg category, Turan BAYRAMOV.

The -48kg category was a complete wipeout for Europe; Japan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia celebrating the medals and qualification points there. As for the -52kg category, WRL #6 PUPP Reka (HUN) was in with a chance of gold, however the top seed and WRL #3 Diyora KELDIYOROVA (UZB) was on top form and delivered within only 18 seconds. A smooth transition from drop seoi nage in to ne waza brought about, quite surprisingly, her first Grand Prix gold, to go along with her four Grand Slam wins and world silver at senior level.

Current European Champion, Daria KURBONMAMDOVA (AIN) narrowly missed out on the gold, settling for the silver in the -57kg category, and team mate Glafira BORISOVA took bronze at -52kg.

Tomorrow, three of the four leading seeds are from outside of Europe, leaving double World Champion, Barbara MATIC (CRO) with a little pressure to pull through from the host continent. The competition will continue to be extraordinarily tough given the timing and the upcoming Olympic Games, but the athletes will continue to deliver their best.

It’s another early start tomorrow, tune in to JudoTV.com at 08:00 (GMT) or 09:00 (CET) for day two of the Portugal Grand Prix.


Author: Thea Cowen