Paris was that trophy that Shavdatuashvili didn’t yet win
There were several matches that could have been perfect for the final of the Grand Slam of the category U73kg at the Accor Arena on Saturday. As many favourites were eliminated, there were two to remain at the end of the day. Judo legend Lasha Shavdatuashvili is a phenomenon. Having won everything, he still finds the energy and motivation to be among the best.
In the final of the Judo Grand Slam in Paris Shavdatuashvili faced Soichi Hashimoto who, despite some scary moments for him during the early rounds, could finally join the Georgian champion.
The least we can say is that Lasha Shavdatuashvili has massive experience, but so does Soichi Hashimoto. When two experts like that meet, it is not surprising to witness a very tactical match, where neither of the athletes are really in a position to score. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see how the Georgian champion disrupted Hashimoto's judo by showing a high rhythm during the first part of the final. In golden score, the Japanese seemed to bounce back as Shavdatuashvili slowed his pace, but there was one shido between them and that was enough, when the third penalty was given, to give the victory to Lasha Shavdatuashvili, the medal hunter.
Lasha Shavdatuashvili said, “I have the feeling of being like a good bottle of spirit. The older I get older the better I am. Actually when the opponent is top level I always raise my level. I wanted to win in Paris and now it is done!”
The crowd will remember the early loss of Rustam Orujov, who was defeated by Benjamin Axus (FRA), on fire throughout the day. Eventually the French competitor qualified for the bronze medal contest against 2016 Olympic Champion Fabio Basile, who as usual gave everything to win. The Italian hero was so close to defeating Hashimoto in the semi-final but didn't succeed. In the bronze medal match, it was Axus who immediately took the lead with a counterattack for waza-ari. Much taller than Basile, Axus continued to control all the attempts of his famous opponent, who looked totally out of opportunities. The French competitor, who really had an incredible day, controlled until the last second to win a well deserved medal that will help him to change his ranking. Actually, in the morning of the tournament, Axus was at a far away 242nd position in the World Ranking List. Job well done!
Tsogtbaatar Tsend-Ochir (MGL) met Shakhram Akhadov for the second bronze medal and the medal went to Mongolia.