4 February 2024


Paris Grand Slam 2024


The third and final day of the Paris Grand Slam 2024 was full of surprises and buckets of entertainment for the crowd, not only from the competition but also from the Judo for Children programme, debuting a Heroes versus Legends Mixed Team event. Following the excitement, it was time to welcome back the finalists and it ended in the most idyllic way for the home crowd, two consecutive gold medals for Team France, totalling six in this Grand Slam, as well as one silver and five bronze.

In the -90kg category, it was an all-European affair between the third string of the Azeri team, Eljan HAJIYEV, who regardless of his result will move in to second position, and Mihael ZGANK (TUR). The latter already has two Paris Grand Slam medals from 2017 and 2022, but has been looking for the gold and after a stellar performance in Portugal last week, he was on a roll.

I had a goal to win a Grand Slam this year and to win in Paris its’s one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had on the IJF tour.

Mihael ZGANK (TUR) © Gabi Juan

For the -78kg women, Anna-Maria WAGNER (GER) and Alice BELLANDI (ITA), it was a true battle. Despite the three-shido conclusion, both athletes gave it their all with numerous attacks, coming close to scoring on multiple occasions. However both could defend just as well which brought them in to golden score and unfortunately for the Italian athlete and number one seed, a third shido came her way for a gripping infringement.

It was really a tough fight and no one likes to win like that, we spoke at the end and I said sorry that it had to end that way, we both like to throw and we tried so hard in this contests so of course it was a shame. I am so happy with the medal though, my first in Paris and gold! Couldn’t have asked for more.

Anna-Maria WAGNER (GER) © Gabi Juan

Another Portugal Grand Prix success, Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP), who took silver last week continued on his roll in to the final here in Paris but took on Olympic Champion, WOLF Aaron (JPN). No easy feat for anyone, but Sherazadishvili feels like he has arrived in the -100kg category, proving that today time and time again. For the final however, he was struggling to find his fight and eventually was caught for a waza ari by Wolf and the seconds passed by. Still, not a bad run for the -90kg double World Champion who conquered Paris in 2020 in his former weight category.

The tactics maybe weren’t so good but I feel really happy about this medal, a silver in Paris isn’t so bad!


Though the scoreboard stated France and Türkiye for the +78 final, many will know that his home crowd has a special place for Kayra OZDEMIR. It has been a decade now since she represented France before marrying and moving to Türkiye, and continuing to be a front runner in the category. So walking out today was a little special for both her and Romane DICKO (FRA). Undoubtedly Ozdemir would have liked it to last a little longer but Dicko was looking for the quick finish, succeeding with ashi guruma and falling in the osae komi.

I was really focussing on my kumi kata today, and especially in the final. I was a little surprised it was so quick but I wanted to prove that I’m the best in this category, and not just in France either!

Romane DICKO (FRA) © Gabi Juan

After hearing the crowd cheers for their Dicko, it was time for the +100kg men to prepare. Teddy RINER (FRA) was the man of the moment, and the pressure mounting is simply incredible.

Everywhere I go, everyone, coaches, friends, family, media are asking how I am, am I okay? How do I feel about the Olympic Games? It is a lot. But I understand why, this is a big moment for me and my team, but we go step by step. Right now my preparation is good, I feel good, it is so much different to Tokyo, that was really difficult. To have no family there for me was difficult, you saw them there in the stands and they have been with me since I was competing as a cadet, they are always in my luggage!

 It was a tough gig competing against KIM Minjong (KOR) in the final, taking it the full length of the contest, and a simple change in direction made all the difference in taking his eighth gold medal in the Accor Arena here in Bercy. Eight. That is some number.

Teddy RINER (FRA) © Gabi Juan


Author: Thea Cowen