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France dominates the first day of the Grand Slam in Antalya

origin 1Judo athletes on the podium. ©IJF

France dominated the first day of the Antalya Grand Slam, the prestigious judo competition, which was once again held in Antalya, Turkey.

Located right on the Mediterranean Sea, the stadium was packed with young local judokas, eager to see their heroes compete on a huge stage.

The event was officially opened by the Director General of the IJF, Vlad Marinescu, and the President of the Turkish Judo Federation, Sezer Huysuz.

A moment of silence was held during the opening ceremony for all those affected by the February earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, a symbol of the judo family in remembrance and solidarity.

At less than 48kg, Frenchwoman Blandine Pont looked absolutely unbeatable, winning her third consecutive Grand Slam. The French number two launched Israel’s Rishony with a huge osoto-gari, dashing her hopes of becoming her country’s number one.

origin 1Final: Rishy (ISR) vs. Bridge (FRA). By Feliciantonio Emanuele

Mr. Yavuz Gürhan, Sports Director of Antalya Region was present to hand out the medals

“I think I’m in a good period, a good moment in my career. I don’t want to stop there, I just want to take this and improve my judo to have more for bigger goals like worlds” Pont said.

At 60kg, France continued their success, with Olympic bronze medalist Luka Mkheidze taking a well deserved gold medal after a tense contest.

He received his medal from Mr. Fatih Uysal, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

“I try not to stress, I think about my family, I work on my breath and this allows me to keep a cool head and not be bothered by the pressure,” Mkheidze said.

At 52kg, Olympic silver medalist Amandine Buchard overtook Olympic bronze medalist Giles of Great Britain after a fantastic contest. She was delighted to assert her dominance just before the World Championships and she took the latest victory in what is becoming an exciting rivalry.

She received her medals from Dr Lisa Allan, the IJF Director of Events.

France had even more success, 4 of the first 4 golds, as an emotional Gobert won his first Grand Slam title.

Mr. Juan Carlos Barcos, Director of International Relations IJF, received the 4th Gold for France.

At 57kg, former world champion Deguchi of Canada faced current world champion Silva of Brazil for a mouth-watering final. A lightning-fast ko-uchi scored the deciding score with seconds left, giving Brazil the gold.

Silva received the gold medal from Mr. Florin Daniel Lascau, IJF Chief Referees.

The local athletes put on a show, fighting hard and giving the crowd a lot to cheer on. Tomorrow will be another exciting day of action in Antalya.