Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist and former world champion Yeldos Smetov of Kazakhstan lived up to his top-seed billing as he claimed his fifth International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Prix gold medal in Antalya in Turkey today.
Smetov beat Uzbekistan’s Kemran Nurillaev in the men’s under-60 kilograms final at Antalya Spor Salonu.
The world number six opened the scoring with a waza-ari from a ko-uchi-gari before pinning down his rival with a sankaku-gatame for his second and match-winning waza-ari score.
It secured him his first IJF Grand Prix title since triumphing in Hohhot in China last year, the event which marked the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification period.
The first bronze medal was won by 18-year-old Mihrac Akkus, who delighted the home crowd by defeating Brazil’s Felipe Kitadai.
Great Britain’s Ashley McKenzie took the second after he overcame Ukraine’s Artem Lesiuk.
Paris Grand Slam winner Denis Vieru made history for Moldova as he beat three-time world silver medallist Mikhail Puliaev of Russia to win the men’s under-66kg final.
Puliaev received his third shido and marching orders after three minutes of golden score having grabbed the leg of his opponent.
It gave Vieru and his country a first gold medal on the IJF Grand Prix stage.
Spain’s Alberto Gaitero Martin beat Mongolia’s Kherlen Ganbold in the first bronze medal match before Georgia’s Bagrati Niniashvili defeated Russia’s Abdula Abdulzhalilov to complete the third step of the podium.
Among today’s winners in the women’s categories was Kosovo’s Distria Krasniqi, who overcame Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh of Kazakhstan in the under-48kg final to claim her sixth IJF Grand Prix title.
Krasniqi, whose coach Driton Toni Kuka is at home with another set of athletes for a training camp, prevailed with a convincing performance that culminated with a harai-goshi for ippon with six seconds left on the clock.
Serbia’s Milica Nikolić was one of the two bronze medallists thanks to victory over Slovenia’s Marusa Stangar.
The other was South Korea’s Yu Jeong Kang at the expense of Spain’s Mireia Lapuerta Comas.
Two-time world silver medallist Andreea Chitu of Romania rediscovered her form with a devastating performance in the women’s under-52kg category.
Chitu picked up her fifth IJF Grand Prix win and first title since the Grand Prix in Jeju in South Korea in 2015 by beating former world champion Urantsetseg Munkhbat of Mongolia by two scores.
Munkhbat, who took a bronze medal in the under-48kg category at last week's IJF Grand Prix in Georgia's capital Tbilisi, was dismissed with a ko-soto-gake for ippon.
Brazil had mixed fortunes in the bronze medal matches with Sarah Menezes losing to Azerbaijan’s Gultaj Mammadaliyeva in the first and Larissa Pimenta defeating Russia’s Yulia Kazarina in the second.
Today’s one other winner was Poland’s Julia Kowalczyk as the European under-23 champion topped an IJF podium for the first time in her career with success in the women’s under-57kg category.
Kowalczyk did it the hard way after a 10-minute duel with Slovenia’s Kaja Kajzer.
Kajzer, the world number 20, was disqualified after six minutes of golden score for passivity.
Serbia suffered losses in both bronze medal matches with Jovana Rogić and Marica Perisic falling at the hands of China’s Wen Zhang and Ukraine’s Mariia Skora, respectively.
Competition in Antalya is due to continue tomorrow.
Watch all the action on Judo TV.