Bulgarian talent Ivaylo Ivanov inked his name into the record books as he entered unchartered territory for Bulgaria by winning their first Grand Slam gold medal. Belgrade European Cup winner Ivanov shone all day long as he won all six of his contests including the -81kg final against Tashkent Grand Prix winner Sergiu Toma.
The home judoka was urged on by the crowd who chanted his name with the only question being which colour medal will be the first for the United Arab Emirates in their home event. Ivanov, who was supported to compete in Abu Dhabi by the IJF, fired in front with a waza-ari as chants of U.A.E rung out around the arena only for Toma to be penalised with shido for passivity and then a second for the same offence at the halfway point. Ivanov received a shido for a false attack before Toma was penalised for passivity with 90 seconds left. A second waza-ari for the Bulgarian settled the contest and a historic moment in Bulgarian judo.
In the first semi-final Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Sirazhudin Magomedov (RUS) was seen off by the breakout star Ivanov who scored two waza-ari. Ivanov countered a weak uchi-mata for his second score to win by wazari-awasette-ippon. In the second semi-final world bronze medallist Victor Penalber (BRA) was second best against Toma who scored yuko, waza-ari and then held down the Brazilian who elected to tap out with no escape on the horizon.
The first bronze medal was won by Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Csoknyai Laszlo (HUN) after world number six Penalber received hansoku-make for a leg grab. Csoknyai made a bright start as he attacked with a yoko-tomoe-nage but Penalber anticipated the attack and was unmoved on the edge of the area. The Brazilian attempted to make the transition to ne-waza but used a leg grab in the process to gift the medal to the Hungarian. The second bronze medal went to world number 13 Magomedov who threw Baku Grand Slam winner Khasan Khalmurzaev (RUS) for ippon after two minutes with a modified kata-guruma.