The Russian public was hoping for a 100% Russian final, but this was without counting on Dzmitry Minkou (BLR), who produced a superb performance in the semi-final to eliminate Yakub Shamilov (RUS). In the final he faced Murad Chopanov (RUS), bronze medallist in Antalya on 1st April.
After one minute and a half, Chopanov was penalised a first time for passivity and seemed a little behind in terms of attacks, but the Russian was waiting for the right moment to apply a counterattack for a clear ippon.
Every single point may count when the time to determine who will go to Tokyo arrives. Thus, it was not uncommon to see outbursts of joy that we are used to seeing as we get closer to the medal matches, earlier in the competition. The stakes are high and it is not surprising to see the pressure transform into a release of energy as the rounds go by.
Ranked 81 in the world Kuanov Yesset (KAZ) had only two gold medals at the Aktau Asian Open to his name, before entering the bronze medal contest against Bagrati Niniashvili (GEO), fifth in Tbilisi in March. With only eleven seconds remaining and nothing scored, the golden score was fast approaching, until Kuanov scored a waza-ari with a desperate sumi-gaeshi, immediately followed with an immobilisation for ippon to win bronze.
The last bronze medal contest brought us the two Russians, Aram Grigoryan (RUS), bronze medallist in Tashkent and Yakub Shamilov (RUS), finalist in Budapest in October 2020. Yakub Shamilov (RUS) displayed some remarkable judo in the prelims of the U66kg category. In his match against Patryck Wawrzyczek (POL) he did a reverse kata-guruma, similar to the technique made famous by Saeid Mollaei. He then threw Joao Crisostomo (POR) with a massive harai-tsurikomi-ashi, a move seldom seen in competition. The timing was just superb.
The bronze medal went to Shamilov after Grigoryan tried to escape from a powerful sode-tsuri-komi-goshi using his head, which is forbidden and he was therefore disqualified.