Home judoka Madina Taimazova had a barnstorming day at the International Judo Federation’s Kazan Grand Slam, taking gold in the women’s under-70 kilograms category after defeating Japan’s world champion Chizuru Arai in the semi-final.
In what was the last major event ahead of the Budapest World Championships and the Olympic competition in Tokyo, Taimazova prevented Arai emulating the opening day’s golds earned by her compatriots Ute Abe and Funa Tonaki by stopping her progress to the final.
The last step to gold came at the expense of Germany’s Giovanna Scoccimarro, with bronzes going to Arai - who like Abe and Tonaki is Olympics-bound - and Sweden’s Anna Bernholm.
There was further home success as Makhmadbek Makhmadbekov defeated his fellow Russian Ayub Khazhaliev to earn gold in the men’s under-73kg final, embracing his teammate afterwards.
Bronze medals went to Victor Scvortov of the United Arab Emirates and Georgia’s Nugzari Tatalashvili.
Brotherhood and Friendship!! These 2 young Russian Judoka show us exactly what sets Judo apart -🥇&🥈for Russia— Judo (@Judo) May 6, 2021
Tune in at https://t.co/Gupw19ZNvy#MoreThanASport #JudoKazan #Judo #Russia #Kazan #Sport #Olympics pic.twitter.com/tpL6G9dTuY
Italy's Rio 2016 champion Fabio Basile suffered a shock early defeat at the hands of Azerbaijan's Nurlan Osmanov.
Poland’s 2017 world bronze medallist Ozdoda-Blach earned her first ever Grand Slam gold at the age of 33 as she beat Brazil’s Ketleyn Quadros.
Sanne Vermeer of The Netherlands and home judoka Ekaterina Valkova took bronze medals.
Hungary’s Attila Ungvari earned gold at his first ever Grand Slam after a closely fought match against home judoka Alan Khubetsov.
Bronze medals went to South Korea’s Sungho Lee and Murad Fatiyev of Azerbaijan.
Classic display of sportsmanship after Ozdoba-Blach once again scored with her driving Kouchi - the World Medallist takes her first ever Grand Slam Gold!— Judo (@Judo) May 6, 2021
Tune in at https://t.co/Gupw19ZNvy#JudoKazan #Judo #Russia #Kazan #Sport #Olympics
©️ IJF Media Team - Gabriela Sabau pic.twitter.com/vq7Fkl4mnO
The official Opening Ceremony featured the delivery of a message from the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, delivered by his aide Igor Levitin, in which he congratulated the organisers and participants, adding: "Russia is honoured to stage such a prestigious and high profile competition and we are entitled to host the tournament for a good reason.
"In our country there has always been a high interest in this spectacular, dynamic sport, in its unique history and philosophy.
"It is my strong belief that this tournament will become a large-scale, landmark event, attracting genuine attention from experts and numerous judo fans.
"Moreover, in the international sports calendar a Grand Slam is considered to be one of the most important events in the run-up to the Olympics in Tokyo, as the athletes will have to compete not only for medals, but also for the points to qualify for the Olympic Games."
Oleg Matytsin, Minister of Sport for the Russian Federation, also congratulated the organisers, concluding: "Russia is an open country, where we cultivate solidarity and mutual respect."
IJF President Marius Vizer added: "It's a great honour for our organisation to have our Grand Slam take place here in Kazan."
The Grand Slam concludes tomorrow with action in the men's under-90kg, under-100kg and over-100kg categories, and the women's under-78kg and over-78kg classes.