Brazil’s Rafael Macedo became the first male judoka to break Georgia’s stranglehold of the gold medals in Tbilisi. Hosts Georgia had a perfect record of five gold medals from five men’s categories before the U90kg final.
Judo Former Junior World Championships winner and Sogipa talent Macedo, 23, who took silver at the Zagreb Grand Prix last year, won his first IJF senior title in golden score with a defiant display as he absorbed the home atmosphere and eventually rolled world number 224 Giorgi Papunashvili (GEO) over for a waza-ari in golden score.
In the first semi-final Agadir Grand Prix silver medallist Ciril Grossklaus (SUI) was second best against world Papunashvili as the Swiss was penalised three times and received hansoku-make. In the second semi-final 21-year-old IJF World Judo Tour debutant Theodoros Tselidis (GRE) lost to former junior ace Macedo by ippon after the Brazilian built on his opening waza-ari score.
The first bronze medal was won by former Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Piotr Kuczera (POL) against Tselidis who was something of a mystery man in the -90kg category. Kuczera marginally outworked his opponent who was an unknown quantity as he was appearing internationally for the first time. The Greek judoka was penalised for a third time for dropping and received hansoku-make.
The second bronze medal went to Li Kochman (ISR) who came from behind to defeat Grossklaus. Switzerland’s Grossklaus rolled over his rival for a waza-ari but was then caught with an uchi-mata for a waza-ari score and the contest moved into golden score. After an additional 17 seconds Kochman powered the top seed to the tatami with a thumping osoto-gari for ippon.