There were some early exits for three of our number one seeds on day one of the Paris Grand Slam 2023; home nation hope Shirine BOUKLI (FRA), YANG Yung Wei (TPE) and Lucy RENSHALL (GBR). However this left room on the podium for the lower ranked athletes to come up and have their time.
France’s Blandine PONT in the -48kg category has managed to secure two Paris Grand Slam medals, two bronze in 2021 and 2022, but today as he was looking to make it in to the final and she really put in the work against LEE Hyekyeong (KOR). The pair displayed great conditioning as the contest went four minutes in to golden score, but a countering over roll from Pont gave her the revered place to compete for gold against Milica NIKOLIC (SRB). Similarly, Nikolic took a bronze in Paris in 2017 but it’ll be her first time in the final in the Accor Arena.
Another French athlete who will be going in to the final for the first time is Cedric REVOL in the -60kg category. He took bronze in the Almada Grand Prix last week and is now on a winning streak, though it was an unfortunate semi final meeting his team mate Romaric Wend-Yam BOUDA. On the other side of the draw is defending Paris title holder, Balabay AGHAYEV (AZE), the pair have yet to meet in competition so this will be a fresh head to head.
Last year, Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) battled it out against the -48kg Olympic champion, Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) in the -52kg final to win the tournament but this year they met in the semi final. It seems Krasniqi had her number today, scoring twice against Buchard. PUPP Reka (HUN) has been collecting grand slam medals and titles over the past couple of years and this will be the first time she stands on the Parisian podium, heading in to the final with Krasniqi. Aside from a win against the Kosovo athlete in the Baku Grand Slam in 2021, the results do not lie in favour of the Hungarian, can she turn the tables?
Current European champion, Bogdan IADOV (UKR) has been unstoppable today, and has found himself in his first grand slam final after seeing out the likes of Tal FLICKER (ISR), Alberto GAITERO MARTIN (ESP) and AN Jaehong (KOR). The only one stopping him from becoming the victor is Ulaanbaatar Grand Slam gold medallist, BATTOGTOKH Erkhembayar (MGL).
In the -57kg category, France have great reason to celebrate. 31 year-old Priscilla GNETO has collected five bronze medals in front of the home crowd since 2011 but today she can finally breathe a sigh of relief as she beat Telma MONTEIRO (POR) for a place in the final. It was a lovely moment between the pair at the end, both having been on the senior circuit with one another for a long time and Monteiro appreciating what this means to the elder of the Gneto sisters. She will take on former world champion, Jessica KLIMKAIT (CAN) in the final.
Incredibly, Daniel CARGNIN (BRA) continues to impress, the -66kg Olympic bronze medallist has moved in the -73kg category and taken over. Defeating Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO), Rustam ORUJOV (AZE) and Manuel LOMBARDO (ITA) he took a world championship bronze in Tashkent, then went on to become the IJF Masters champion in Jerusalem, once again defeating Shavdatuashvili. Now it is the Georgian’s time to take the power back as they are going on to face each other for the Paris Grand Slam title, which incidentally, Shavdatuashvili is defending.
Incredibly, there is only one Japanese in the final on day one, the 2022 champion, NABEKURA Nami in the -63kg category. Trying to dethrone Nabekura is Israel’s Gili SHARIR, who has had quite the day, taking out a strong French contender, Manon DEKETER who took a senior world bronze in Tashkent, as well as Olympic bronze medal winner Catherine BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD (CAN) within her quarter alone.
Author: Thea Cowen