12 photos that capture the spirit of the IBSA Judo Grand Prix 2019

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The International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) Judo Grand Prix brought together over 230 athletes from 35 countries to compete in Baku. But what makes the competition even more inspiring are the challenges overcome by the men and women judokas to reach the elite of sporting excellence

When four minutes feels like a lifetime. Italy’s Carolina Costa survived the tsunami of China’s world champion Hongyu Wang to snatch victory in the final seconds

May the best man win. You can feel the tension as Arthur Cavalcante Da Silva from Brazil and Georgia’s Avtandil Kirkitadze prepare for the moment of battle

The second you know victory is in your grasp. Oleksandr Nazarenko from Ukraine defeats France’s Helios Latchoumanaya to take bronze in the -90kg category

World champion Mohammadreza Kheirollahzadeh looks a tower of invincibility in this semi final match with Great Britain’s Jack Hodgson, but he fell in the final against Shirin Sharipov of Uzbekistan

Serhii Kotenko from Ukraine and Russia’s Vasilii Kutuev show why judo demands balance and poise as well as strength and guile. This could almost be ballet.

Speaking of strength … the bronze medal match between Azerbaijan hero Ilham Zakiyev and Georgia’s Revaz Chikoidze was a seven-minute clash of titanic force

Be happy! Great Britain’s Chris Skelley is all smiles after winning the gold medal in the men’s -100kg final against Anatolii Shevchenko

The pressure of competing in the -70kg women’s final against Alana Martins of Brazil didn’t get to her. But the emotion of winning the gold medal brought tears to the eyes of Mexico’s Alvarez Ruvalcaba.

The split-second margin between victory and defeat: Russia’s Olga Pozdnysheva summons every ounce of her strength and passion to turn a losing battle against Nafisa Sheripboeva of Uzbekistan into a gold medal celebration

Anything can happen in judo … and it frequently does. Like this move demonstrated by Azerbaijan’s Rovshan Safarov and Vahid Nouri of Iran in the -90kg final …

… and this gravity-defying moment from Azerbaijan’s Dursadaf Karimova and Katie Davis from USA

The IBSA Judo Grand Prix, bringing together sight-impaired judokas from 35 countries, is more than two days of combat, tears and triumph. It is proof that everyone has the potential to achieve something extraordinary. Azerbaijan’s Khanim Huseynova and Duygu Cete Artar from Turkey fought each other with fire and finger-ripping passion. But their embrace at the end of their match shows they know why judo means ‘the gentle way’.

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