As if to emphasise the global appeal of the sport, the 14 gold medals on offer at the International Judo Federation Grand Prix that concluded in Antalya went to 14 different countries – and happily for the home crowd that included Turkey.
Mikail Ozerler, their former world silver medallist, put a golden finish on proceedings in the men’s under-90 kilograms class, defeating Georgia’s Giorgi Papunashvili in golden score.
Ozerler, ranked 47 in the world, had competed for Slovenia as Mihael Zgank before switching to Turkey last year.
He won his first medal for his new country with a devastating harai-goshi for ippon to kick-start his belated qualification bid for Tokyo 2020, having defeated another Georgian, former world champion Avtandili Tchrikishvili, in the semi-final.
Tchrkishvili went on to earn bronze, along with Tajikistan’s Asian Games bronze medallist Komronshokh Ustopiriyon.
France’s Tel Aviv Grand Prix winner Alexandre Iddir beat Brazil’s Tbilisi Grand Prix silver medallist Rafael Buzacarini in golden score in the men’s under-100kg category.
Bronze medals went to Toma Nikiforov of Belgium and Azerbaijan’s Olympic silver medallist Elmar Gasimov.
Roy Meyer of the Netherlands produced one of the best performances of his career to defeat Georgia’s Levani Matiashvili in the final of the men’s over-100kg class, making his decisive move with an o-soto-gari after 17 seconds of golden score.
The Dutch judoka has now won Grand Prix events in 2014, 2017 and 2019.
The first bronze medal was won by the Czech Republic’s Lukas Krpalek, the Rio 2016 champion at under-100kg, and the second was claimed by Romania’s Vladut Simeonescu.
In the two concluding women’s events, Azerbaijan’s Iryna Kindzerska required just 17 seconds of her over-78kg final to defeat Brazil’s Beatriz Souza with a harai-makikomi for ippon.
Bronze medals went to Germany’s Jasmin Kuelbs and Kyra Sayit for the hosts.
Germany’s Marrakech Grand Prix winner Anna Maria Wagner earned her second Grand Prix win of 2019 in the under-78kg class as she beat Cuba’s former world bronze medallist Kaliema Antomarchi by two scores to move into the IJF top 10 for the first time.
Bronze medals went to Wagner’s compatriot Luise Malzahn and last year’s Antalya silver medallist Anastasiya Turchyn of Ukraine.