European success with an Uzbek comeback

European success with an Uzbek comeback

At 63kg, 22-year-old Croatian, Katarina Kristo faced Slovenian, 27-year-old Andreja Leski. Kristo managed to overcome the multiple World Medallist to win her first grand slam gold.

The medals were presented by Kazakhstan Minister of Tourism & Sport, Yermek Marzhikpayev.

Kristo welcomed the enthusiasm of the crowd.

''You can see that they love judo and they are not just sitting there. They are cheering you on, even if you are not from their country. When you score, they live that moment with you and I really love to fight here,'' Kristo said.

In the 73kg final, Italian judoka Manuel Lombardo took on neutral competitor, 21-year-old Danil Lavrentev.

Lombardo caught Lavrentev by surprise, throwing him with sode-tsurikomi-goshi just six seconds in to score waza-ari. He held on to secure his 4th grand slam gold.

His medal was awarded by Kazakhstan's Deputy Prime Minister, Galymzhan Koishybayev.

Lombardo, 25, said his popularity among judo fans in Kazakhstan was a ''strange'' but a ''good feeling''.

''I think I’m more popular in Kazakhstan than in Italy. I love Kazakhstan so it’s very nice to fight here and I'm very happy that the crowd enjoyed my judo,'' he said.

At 70kg, junior Tais Pina of Portugal put pressure on Croatian World Medallist, 22-year-old Lara Cvjetko. The 19-year-old capitalised, throwing Cvjetko for ippon with ura-nage, arriving firmly on the senior scene.

The medals were awarded by Kazakhstan Judo Federation President, Kuanyshbek Yessekeyev.

The 81kg category final saw Sharofiddin Boltaboev's comeback, where the 28-year-old took on Germany's 27-year-old Timo Cavelius. The Uzbek judoka controlled the contest and threw with a massive ura-nage for waza-ari, sealing a strong victory.

He was awarded his medal by Samruk-Kazyna CEO, Nurlan Zhakupov.

Galymzhan Koishybayev, Kazakhstan's Deputy Prime Minister, thanked the International Judo Federation for ''its trust in Kazakhstan to hold the ranking tournament for the Olympic Games in Paris''.

''Judo is rightfully considered as the one of the most popular and spectacular forms of martial arts. This sport has a broad development across the country. Today more than 150 000 people practise judo in Kazakhstan,'' he said.

The final day of the Grand Slam will be held on Sunday.