September 29 - Hosts Kazakhstan secured three more gold medals on the final day of the inaugural International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Prix in the Almaty Sports Palace, to finish top of the medal table from rivals Brazil and Russia.
But it Brazil that had started off the day the same way it finished off yesterday by bagging another gold medal, this time in the women's under 70 kilogrammes class as rising star 21-year-old Nadia Merli scored with a seoi-nage technique for a yuko to claim victory over Israel's Lior Wildikan.
Merli's compatriot Barbara Timo needed just 45 seconds to secure ippon against Kazakh national champion, Dinara Kudarova, to take bronze while Luiza Gainutdinova of the Ukraine also claimed bronze against Russia's Irina Sordiya.
Miami Grand Prix bronze medallist Anastasiya Dmitrieva of Russia upset the home support in the final of the under 78kg category as she comfortably defeated Albina Amangeldiyeva, while there were further medals for Russia and the Ukraine as Alena Kachorovskaya and Victoria Turks won their bronze medal contests.
The final women's contest of the day saw Kazakhstan bag its first gold medal in the form of former Prague European Cup winner Gulzhan Issanova who proved too great an obstacle for Belarusian and Kazan 2013 Universiade bronze medal winner Maryna Slutskaya in the over 78kg category,.
Ruza Dukhturbayeva delighted the home crowd also with her bronze medal win over Ulannbaatar Grand Prix silver medallist Javzmaa Odkhuu of Mongolia, and she was joined on the podium by Russia's Ksenia Chibisova.
The men's competitions opened up with a win in the under 81kg for Russian teenager and former Junior European champion Khasan Khalmurzaev, who came on top in a keenly contested duel against World Military Championship bronze medallist Aliaksandr Stsiashenka of Belarus.
Uzbekistan's Shukhratjon Arslanov defeated former Junior World Championship runner-up Vitalii Popovych of the Ukraine by ippon, while Mongolian Uuganbaatar Otgonbaatar proved too good for Popovych's teammate Artem Vasylenko in the bronze medal matches.
The final of the men's under 90kg class proved an anti-climax as Khurshid Nabiev of Uzbekistan could not compete after picking up a hand injury which handed the gold medal to Kazakhstan's Islam Bozbayev.
The bronze medal match-ups saw wins for Komronshoh Ustopiriyon of Tajikistan and Orenburg European Cup winner Khusen Khalmurzaev of Russia.
In the under 100kg decider it was another battle between hosts Kazakhstan and Brazil as former world champion Maxim Rakov and Rafael Buzacarini squared up.
Roared on by the fervent home support, Rakov showed his undoubted class once again by out manoeuvring his opponent throughout and securing a first Grand Prix title on home soil.
Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Enkhbat Erdenebileg secured another minor medal for Mongolia with victory over former Kazakh national champion Talgat Amrenov while Tajikistan's former Asian Championship silver medallist Parviz Sobirov could not overcome Utkur Kurbanov of Uzbekistan in the bronze medal contests.
The last final of the day saw Aliaksandr Vakhaviak of Belarus become party-pooper-in-chief as he executed a perfect sasae-tsuri-komi-achi to secure ippon and take the win against the hosts Yerzhan Shynkeyev in the over 100kg category.
Another man who appeared at the Olympic Games last year, Kyrgyzstan's Iurii Krakovetskii secured a surprising win over the Ukrainian national champion Stanislav Bondarenko to take bronze, while in the other match, top seed David Moura of Brazil won by ippon against Orenburg European Cup silver medallist Stepan Sarkisyan of Russia.
That brought an end to proceedings at the Almaty Sports Palace on what was a very successful first Judo World Tour event in Kazakhstan.
The best female judoka award was picked up by Brazil's Ketleyn Quadros with the men's award going to home favourite Yeldos Zhumakanov.
The Judo World Tour now moves on to Tashkent in Uzbekistan next weekend (October 5 and 6) and during his closing remarks here in Almaty, Armen Bagdasarov, President of the Uzbek Judo Federation (UJF) and IJF sports director said: "It is a big honour for us to welcome the seventh Judo Grand Prix of the year.
"We have been working many years to develop judo in our country.
"Judo is now a well-known sport in Uzbekistan and having the IJF come to Tashkent represents a lot and is a great recognition for our work."
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Photos©IJF Media Team by Gabriela Sabau
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