Judo Grand Prix: Sharipov victory puts Uzbekistan at top of gold medal table

Shirlin Sharipov, left, gets to grips with reigning world champion Mohammadreza Kheirollahzadeh on his way to victory in the men’s +100kg final

Shirlin Sharipov of Uzbekistan, Iranian Vahid Nouri and Great Britain’s Christopher Skelley earned gold medals in a second day of action at the IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Baku

Shirlin Sharipov won a fourth gold medal for Uzbekistan at the IBSA Judo Grand Prix, placing his country at the top of the competition’s gold medal table.

Sharipov faced a daunting challenge against reigning world champion Mohammadreza Kheirollahzadeh in the +100kg final. Although Sharipov beat Kheirollahzadeh in the 2018 Asia Para Games, it was the Iranian who stamped his authority on para-judo last year by winning the World Championship. In that competition, Sharipov won a bronze medal.

Kheirollahzadeh attacked from the opening moments of the match. But Sharipov was in top form, matching strength with strength and taking the match to the full four minutes without a result. In the golden score, it took Sharipov only seconds to overwhelm Kheirollahzadeh with a textbook throw, earning him the match and a gold medal.

In what for many will be the most memorable match of the competition, Azerbaijan Paralympic hero Ilham Zakiyev lost to Georgian Revaz Chikoidze after a +100kg bronze medal match filled with drama and emotion.

Azerbaijan’s Ilham Zakiyev battled for seven minutes with Georgia’s Revaz Chikoidze for the +100kg bronze medal

Zakiyev twice needed medical attention during the contest for a cut to his nose, returning to the tatami at one point with a white bandage wrapped around his head. With the chants of Azerbaijan fans filling the Heydar Aliyev Arena, the two heavyweights pushed the match to golden score. In the end it took Chikoidze a full seven minutes to secure victory.

The other +100kg bronze went to 2012 London Paralympic champion Kento Masaki from Japan, who defeated Great Britain’s Jack Hodgson by ippon.

In addition to the +100kg contests, the men competed in two other weight categories during the second day of the Judo Grand Prix: -90kg and -100kg.

Great Britain’s Christopher Skelley enjoys the moment of triumph over Russian Anatoli Shevchenko to win gold in the -100kg category

In the -90kg category, Azerbaijan’s hopes for a gold medal rested on Rovshan Safarov, who faced strong opposition from Iranian Vahid Nouri. True to form, the Iranian attacked quickly, putting Safarov under pressure to force ippon in 39 seconds.

Bronze medals went to 2018 World Championship finalist Vladimir Fedin, from Russia, and Ukraine’s Oleksandr Nazarenko. World champion Nazarenko dominated Frenchman Helios Latchoumanaya in the fight for third place, while Fedin scored ippon to conquer Moldova’s Oleg Cretul.

Great Britain’s Christopher Skelley confirmed his position as the world number one in the -100kg category with a convincing win over Russian Anatoli Shevchenko by ippon. The 25-year-old judoka’s triumph also gave Great Britain their only gold medal of the competition.

In the bronze medal contest, Benjamin Goodrich beat four-time Paralympic champion Antonio Tenorio Silva from Brazil in a tough match decided by waza-ari points, giving the USA their only medal of the competition. The other bronze medal and only podium place for Germany went to Oliver Upmann who defeated Ukraine’s Oleksandr Pominov.

  • Benjamin Goodrich, left, takes on four-time Paralympic champion Antonio Tenorio Silva from Brazil
  • Azerbaijan’s Rovshan Safarov on the tatami with Iranian Vahid Nouri
  • Great Britain’s Christopher Skelley shows his determination against Russia’s Anatoli Shevchenko
  • Shirlin Sharipov and Mohammadreza Kheirollahzadeh during their gold medal fight

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