France dominated the first day of the Antalya Grand Slam, Judo’s prestigious competition, which was once again hosted in Antalya, Turkey.
Situated right by the Mediterranean Sea, the stadium was packed full of young local Judoka, eager to watch their heroes contest on a massive stage.
The event was officially opened by IJF Director General Mr Vlad Marinescu and Turkish Judo Federation President, Mr Sezer Huysuz.
A moment of silence was held during the opening ceremony for all affected by the February earthquakes in Turkey and Syria – a symbol of the judo family standing in remembrance and solidarity.
At under 48 kg, France’s Blandine Pont looked completely unbeatable, winning her third Grand Slam in a row. The French number two launched Israel’s Rishony with an enormous osoto-gari, rasing her hopes of becoming her country’s number one.
Mr Yavuz Gürhan, Director of Sports of the Antalya Region, was on hand to award the medals
“I think I am in a good period, a good moment in my career. I don’t want to stop here, I just want to take this and to improve my judo to have more for the bigger objectives like worlds,” said Pont.
At 60 kg, France continued their success, with Olympic Bronze Medallist Luka Mkheidze taking a well deserved Gold medal after a tense contest.
He was awarded his medal by Mr Fatih Uysal, the Youth and Sports Ministry Deputy General Manager.
” I try to not stress, I think of my family, I do some breath work and that enables me to keep my head fresh and not be disturbed by the pressure”, said Mkheidze.
At 52 kg, Olympic Silver Medallist Amandine Buchard overcame Olympic Bronze Medallist Giles of Great Britain after a fantastic contest. She was delighted to assert dominance just before the World Championships and took the latest victory in what is growing into an exciting rivalry.
She was awarded her medals by Dr Lisa Allan, the IJF Events Director.
France had yet more success, 4 from the first 4 golds, as an emotional Gobert took his first grand slam title.
Mr Juan Carlos Barcos, IJF International Relations Director, awarded the 4th Gold for France.
At 57 kg, former World Champion Deguchi of Canada took on current World Champion Silva of Brazil for a mouth watering final. A lightning fast ko-uchi got the decisive score with seconds to go, giving the gold to Brazil.
Silva was awarded the gold medal by Mr Florin Daniel Lascau, the IJF Head Referee Director.
The local athletes put on a show, fighting hard and giving their public lots to cheer for. Tomorrow will be another thrilling day of action in Antalya.