September 28 - Home crowds at the Almaty Sports Palace were treated to a great display of action on the opening day International Judo Federation (IJF) Almaty Grand Prix, which saw Kazakhstan claim two gold medals.
But it was Russia that were first to get off the mark once the tatami action got underway as Lisbon European Open silver medallist Kristina Rumyantseva overcame former World Junior Championship bronze medallist Alexandra Podryadova in the women's under 48 kilogrammes category, much to the annoyance of the fervent home crowd.
Podryadova was forced to tap out after her Russian opponent locked on with a koshi-jime.
Bronze medals went to Maryna Cherniak of the Ukraine and Israel's Shira Rishony.
The under 52kg final resulted in a first World Judo Tour title for Athens 2004 bronze medal winner Ilse Heylen of Belgium, who performed an ippon on Israel's Gili Cohen to clinch the gold.
Cohen's teammate Roni Schwartz and first-time World Judo Tour medallist Raquel Silva secured the bronze positions in their respective matches against Mariia Buiok of the Ukraine and Kazakhstan's Olessya Kutsenko.
Moscow Grand Slam silver medallist Ketleyn Quadros won the first of three Brazilian gold medals in the under 57kg class, as the Beijing 2008 bronze medallist proved too strong for Israel's Camila Minakawa, while Kazan 2013 Universiade silver medallist Shushana Hevondian of the Ukraine and Kazakhstan's Sevara Nishanbayeva claimed bronze medals.
There was more Brazilian dominance in the last women's final of the day as former Rio Grand Slam winner Mariana Barros came out on top in an all-Brazilian clash in the under 63kg category.
Barros performed a drop seoi-nage for ippon on her compatriot Mariana Silva to claim bragging rights on the flight home while it was another bronze for Kazakhstan, this time in the form of Marian Urdabayeva who was joined on the podium by Slovenian Nina Milosevic.
But he Almaty Sports Palace was rocking after the first men's final as world number eight Yeldos Smetov and Warsaw European Open silver medallist Aibek Imashev battled it out for the honour of winning the first gold medal on home soil, and it was the more experienced Smetov who claimed that honour in the under 60kg category.
There was even more reasons to cheer for the Almaty crowd as both Askhat Telmanov and Rustam Ibrayev picked up bronze medals.
The hosts delirium did not end there as World Military Championship winner Yeldos Zhumakanov carried on the Kazakhstani success in the under 66kg class by claiming victory over a somewhat complacent Tbilisi European Open winner Dzmitry Shershan, who was well ahead but eventually lost out after slowing down his workrate and receiving a fourth shido for passivity.
Russian Yakub Shamilov took home bronze as did Kazakhstan's Bakdaulet Sabitov, who overcame compatriot Gainulla Yessingaliyev in another contest that raised the decibel levels in the arena.
However, that delight was tempered with disappointment following the final match of the day in the under 73kg category as Yertugan Torenov lost out to Brazil's South American Championship winner Alex William Pombo Da Silva, who executed a drop seoi-nage for a yuko late on in the contest.
The bronze medal matches saw judoka from Mongolia and Kazakhstan take to the tatami and the spoils were shared as Tsagaanbaatar Khashbaatar prevailed for the visitors while Dastan Ykybayev bagged another medal on what was an extremely rewarding day for the hosts.
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Photos©IJF Media Team by Gabriela Sabau
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