Georgia were once again the leading lights in the men’s competition from the weekend’s action at the International Judo Federation (IJF) World Judo Tour’s Antalya Grand Prix.
They came away with one gold, two silver and two bronze medals from a productive three days of competition in Turkey.
Olympic silver medallist and former world champion Yeldos Smetov of Kazakhstan lived up to his top seed billing on Friday’s first day of action as he claimed his fifth Grand Prix gold medal. The world number six opened the scoring with a waza-ari from a ko-uchi-gari before pinning down his rival with a sankaku-gatame for his second and match-winning waza-ari score.
Paris Grand Slam winner Denis Vieru made history for Moldova as he beat three-time world silver medallist Mikhail Puliaev of Russia to win the -66kg final. The Russian received his third shido and marching orders after three minutes of golden score after he grabbed the leg of his opponent to give Vieru and his country their first gold medal on the Grand Prix stage.
Saturday’s second day saw world champion Changrim An of Korea beat Olympic silver medallist Rustam Orujov of Azerbaijan in a pulsating -73kg final.
An, who was wearing his red backpatch and competing for only the second time since winning his first world title, pushed the pace making it something of a one-way contest in golden score against his long-time rival. To his credit Orujov weathered a string of attacks until he was caught with a neat piece of ashi-waza for a waza-ari score.
Luka Maisuradze provided Georgia with gold on day two as he beat Tel Aviv Grand Prix bronze medallist Christian Parlati of Italy in the -81kg final. Maisuradze threw with an o-soto-gari which the world number 33 initially resisted but the Georgian kept driving and finished the technique to win his first IJF gold medal.
Sunday’s final day witnessed three Finals and a home success as former world silver medallist Mikail Ozerler clinched Turkey’s first gold medal at their home Grand Prix as he drove past Tbilisi Grand Prix silver medallist Giorgi Papunashvili in golden score of the -90kg Final. World number 47 Ozerler, who was previously known as Mihael Zgank before switching from Slovenia to Turkey last year, won his first medal since the switch with a harai-goshi for ippon to kickstart his belated qualification bid for Tokyo 2020.
Tel Aviv Grand Prix winner Alexandre Iddir of France defeated Tbilisi Grand Prix silver medallist Rafael Buzacarini to win the -100kg competition. World number 22 Iddir pulled away from his Brazilian adversary in golden score as Buzacarini had to attack with two shidos to his name and he got caught with a ko-uchi-gari for ippon.
Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Roy Meyer of The Netherlands secured the +100kg gold medal in the last contest of the Grand Prix. Tbilisi Grand Prix winner Levani Matiashvili came close to winning his second Grand Prix in seven days but the heavyweight crown belonged to Meyer who put in arguably the best performance of his career as he demonstrated a tactical and methodical approach when he needed to, to complement his ferocious power as his Georgian opponent came undone from a o-soto-gari after 17 seconds of golden score.
The next IJF event is the Baku Grand Slam 2019 in Azerbaijan from 10 to 12 May 2019.