Once again, Tajikistan, organiser of the Dushanbe Grand Prix, shone. At U73kg the home nation qualified an athlete, Behruzi Khojazoda, for the final. His victory in the semi-final against Ibrahim Aliyev (AZE) propelled the thousands of spectators to another planet, one of happiness, for being there to support their heroes and witness their success.
To face Behruzi Khojazoda in the final, Makhmadbek Makhmadbekov (AIN) was winner in Ulaanbaatar in 2022 and Baku in 2021. The contest was going to be intense and very contested.
The first final of the day involving a Tajik athlete gave a good opportunity for the public to warm up. Unfortunately, the result was quickly sealed, as Makhmadbek Makhmadbekov cleverly counter-attacked Behruzi Khojazoda for ippon.
Gilberto Cardoso (MEX), without reference on the world circuit and Nurlan Osmanov (AZE), holder of a fifth place at grand prix level and one at a grand slam, met to win the first bronze medal. Despite his references, Gilberto Cardoso went straight forward in the contest and eventually won with a yoko-tomoe-nage that was awarded a waza-ari a handful seconds before the end of the contest.
With the now regular performances of Prisca Awiti Alcaraz at the top level, bronze medallist in Linz a week ago, Mexico is on the way to potentially qualify several athletes for the Paris Games.
Benjamin Axus (FRA) and Ibrahim Aliyev (AZE) battled for the second bronze medal. Axis is never an easy athlete to compete with as the Frenchmen has really unorthodox kumi-kata and Ibrahim Aliyev was quite bothered by Axus' long limbs.
The normal time ended with two shido apiece but in the golden score period Axus concluded with a counter-attack for ippon. It was a bronze for France.
This article was originally published on www.judoinside.com