Hosts Azerbaijan lead the medals table after day 2 of the Baku Grand Slam. IJF

Uzbekistan topped the medal table on the first day with three medals, including a gold for Diyora Keldiyorova in the women's -52 kg category. Spain and Canada were second and third respectively, while the breakout star was Sweden's Tara Babulfath. This changed on the second day.

The fans' favourite story of the day had to be that of Hidayat Heydarov in the men's -73 kg category. The three-time world medallist from Azerbaijan has now won four gold medals at his home Grand Slam, including three in a row since 2022. 

If his number one seed and world ranking were already no indication, today's performance certainly makes him as a top contender for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games title later this year.

Everybody loves an underdog story and following in Babulfath's footsteps today was the sensational  Lubjana Piovesana of Austria, who defeated the experienced Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard of Canada to win gold in her first Grand Slam final. Croatia's Barbara Matic won another Grand Slam title in the women's -70kg category.

Azerbaijan's Hidayat Heydarov (in white) fighting against Tajikistan's Abubakr Sherov. IJF
Azerbaijan's Hidayat Heydarov (in white) fighting against Tajikistan's Abubakr Sherov. IJF

Away from the tatami, there was plenty of action around the arena, including the appearance of mascots for the children in the audience. One of these was involved in the "I Promise" campaign, bringing smiles to the faces of the athletes in the warm-up room as they signed pledges. 

These pledges are just a small part of the Azerbaijan Judo Federation's strategy to tackle bullying. Many of today's medallists joined in, including Piovesana, the newly crowned -63kg champion. 

The day ended with Azerbaijan at the top of the medals table, but it's not all over yet as Day 3 looms and the doors will open again on Sunday morning at 10.30am.

Day 2 medallists at the Baku Grand Slam 2024:

Women’s -63 kg:
1. Lubjana Piovesana (Austria).
2. Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (Canada).
3. Joanne Van Lieshout (Netherlands).
3. Szofi Ozbas (Hungary).

Women’s -70 kg:
1. Barbara Matic (Croatia).
2. Marie Eve Gahie (France).
3. Szabina Gercsak (Hungary).
3. Elisavet Teltsidou (Greece).

Men’s -73 kg:
1. Hidayat Heydarov (Azerbaijan).
2. Abubakr Sherov (Tajikistan).
3. Ejder Toktay (Türkiye).
3. Arthur Margelidon (Canada).

Men’s -81 kg:
1. Zelim Tckaev (Azerbaijan).
2. Omar Rajabli (Azerbaijan)
3. Askerbii Gerbekov (Bahrain).
3. Frank De Wit(Netherlands).