Uzbekistan and hosts Azerbaijan dominated the season-opening IBSA Grand Prix that witnessed more than 200 judokas from around the world participating in Baku last week.
While Uzbekistan finished with four gold medals in their total of eight medal count, the hosts picked up 11 medals that had three gold, four silver and four bronze. Team Ukraine took the third spot in the medals table with four medals.
However, the biggest surprise of the competition was pulled off by teenage sensation Shahana Hajiyeva in the women’s up to 48kg.
The 18-year-old and youngest member of the hosts’ team, toppled China’s Paralympic champion Li Liqing with an incredible de ashi barai to take gold.
Frenchwoman Sandrine Martinet’s quest to top the podium again continues as she left with bronze. The up to 52kg Paralympic title holder shared third place with Uzbekistan’s Lobar Khurramova.
Sevda Valiyeva added to Azerbaijan’s gold medal haul in the women’s up to 57kg after overcoming Araq Sultanova in an-all Azeri final. Turkey’s world title holder Zeynep Celik made it into the top three with bronze alongside Uzbekistan’s Parvina Samandarova.
Rounding off the gold medals for the hosts was 2018 World Championships bronze medallist Vugar Shirinli in the men’s up to 60kg. He opened the tournament with an impressive win over Paralympic champion Sherzov Namozov of Uzbekistan. In the final, he beat Romania’s Florin Alexandru Bologa, who had defeated Kazakhstan’s Worlds gold medallist Olzhas Orazalyuly earlier.
Shirinli said: “It was a very difficult match for me, but I came here to prove my strength to everyone and that’s what I did.
“My next goal is the European Championships in July and my license to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics. That is my ultimate aim – to become a Paralympic champion.”
Turkey’s Recep Ciftci and Orazalyuly claimed bronze.
Uzbekistan enjoy quadruple gold
World champion Feruz Sayidov triumphed in the men’s up to 73kg. Ukraine’s Rufat Mahomedov was second followed by Azerbaijan’s Paralympic gold medallist Ramil Gasimov and Mahomedov’s teammate Serhii Kotenko with bronze.
European silver medallist Davurkhon Karomatov emerged the winner in the men’s up to 81kg. Azerbaijan’s Huseyn Rahimli collected another medal for the hosts with silver. Russia’s Ruslan Albagachiev was third, as Mexico’s Eduardo Sanchez broke the dominance of European and Asian judoka to secure the other bronze.
Uzbekistan added another gold to their haul courtesy of Nafisa Sheripboeva in the women’s up to 63kg, while Shirin Sharipov dominated the men’s over 100kg.
Asian Para Games 2018 gold medallist Vahid Nouri claimed the lone gold for Iran when he defeated Rovshan Safarov in the men’s under 90 kg final.