Orkhan Safarov sent home fans into raptures inside the Sarhadchi Olympic Sport Centre today as he sealed a first gold medal for Azerbaijan on the opening day of the International Judo Federation (IJF) Baku Grand Slam.
World Championship bronze medallist Safarov was the star of the show in the eyes of many of those in the stands as he sealed gold in the men's under 60 kilogram contest.
The 22-year-old Tbilisi Grand Prix winner had to battle past compatriot Vugar Shirinli in the final as the two judoka showed off the very best of the local talent on offer in Baku and perhaps give a glimpse of what we can expect next year when the city hosts the first-ever European Games.
Shirinli was second best throughout the final as he conceded two shido penalties before finally succumbing to his teammate as he frantically tapped out as Safarov pulled on his arm.
The hosts were denied a third medal in this contest after Ilgar Mushkiyev was thrown for ippon by Uzbekistan's Sharafuddin Lutfillaev just 40 seconds into their bronze medal contest.
The second bronze medal went to former European champion Sofiane Milous of France, who outlasted Russia's 2013 Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Robert Mshvidobadze in a gutsy performance which saw him prevail in golden score.
The only other men's contest saw Great Britain's Colin Oates secure a career best gold medal after beating Russia's former European Championship silver medallist Kamal Khan-Magomedov in the under 66kg division.
Two Kazak judoka missed out on the podium in the bronze medal playoff matches as Zhansay Smagulov was defeated by Israel's Golan Pollack, while Yeldos Zhumakanov lost to South Korea's Limwhan Kim.
On the women's side, Mongolian world champion Urantsetseg Munkhbat got back to winning ways in the under 48kg competition as she secured her first gold medal since Rio de Janeiro with a win over Israel's Amelie Rosseneu.
Russian London 2012 Olympian Nataliya Kondratyeva forced Italy's Valentina Moscatt to tap out to a juji-gatame for the second successive fight as she secured the first of the two bronze medals, while in the other Dilara Lokmanhekim got the better of compatriot Sumeyye Akkus in an all-Turkish encounter.
French pair Annabelle Euranie and Priscilla Gneto went head-to-head in the under 52kg contest with former world silver medallist Euranie, getting the better of the Olympic bronze medallist Gneto on this occasion.
Petra Nareks claimed a first medal of the day for Slovenia as she beat Russia's Ilona Buryachenko with a koshi-jime in the final minute of their previously scoreless bronze medal contest.
The other bronze medal fell to Israeli top seed Roni Schwartz as she beat Turkmenistan's Gulbadam Babamuratova.
Austria got off the mark in the heaviest women's weight category of the day, the under 57kg contest, as top seed Sabrina Filzmoser got the better of Slovenia's world bronze medallist Vlora Bedeti.
It took until golden score for France's much-fancied Samsun Grand Prix winner Laetitia Blot to eventually see off Russia's Tatiana Noskova in the first bronze medal match, while Kifayat Gasimova added another medal for the hosts with victory over Dutch judoka Carla Grol in the second.
Competition is due tocontinue in Baku tomorrow as the men's under 73kg and under 81kg contest take to the tatami, alongside the women's under 63kg and under 70kg match-ups.
Watch the latest action on Judo TV here.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
May 2014: International judo stars head to Azerbaijan for Baku Grand Slam
March 2014: Georgian favourite shocked by Lithuanian on final day of Samsun Judo Grand Prix
March 2014: Perfect ending for Georgia on final day of Tbilisi Judo Grand Prix
March 2014: Double delight for Georgia in Tbilisi Judo Grand Prix
March 2014: Russia and Azerbaijan claim two golds apiece as action gets underway in Tbilisi Judo Grand Prix