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Guram Tushishvili poised to be one of the main challengers for Riner
10 Nov 2017 13:20
Georgia's man of the moment Guram Tushishvili (GEO) was seen as a talent with promise when he was honing his skills as a junior over the last few years but nobody expected him to make the impression he's made on the IJF World Judo Tour this year. Tushishvili, 22, finished seventh at the 2015 Junior World Championships in the +100kg category and featured at senior events in 2015 and 2016 without capturing any attention. In Marrakech at the World Open Championships Tushishvili is one of the main challengers.
Everything changed in March when he was released from the shackles of making the -100kg weight category and committed to the heavyweight division. Tushishvili won all four of his contests at the Baku Grand Slam by ippon including an emphatic win over double Olympic bronze medallist Rafael Silva (BRA) who substantially outsized and outweighed the Georgian.
The athletic judoka from the small town of Kojori - which is 20 kilometres southwest of the nation's capital of Tbilisi -- then won the European Championships and again won all of his contests by ippon. This time his scalps included U100kg Olympic champion Lukas Krpalek (CZE).
Then came the moment the world had been waiting for. The rapid ascension of Georgia's latest heavyweight, from young upstart to bonafide world title challenger in the space of four months, has been one of the most compelling storylines of the season and saw him take Teddy Riner to a place where no judoka has taken the Frenchman in years.
France's heavyweight king had to be at his best to avoid giving away a score after the quick feet of the Georgian had Riner tumbling to the mat. Riner caught his new challenger in golden score to end a thrilling content and a spirited effort from Tushishvili which should be studied by all heavyweights who believe they have the physical tools to unlock the defence of the fearsome Frenchman.
Part two of the Riner v Tushishvili story will be even more remarkable as both men came out of their first meeting with their heads held high and with fans wanting more.
If Tushishvili can be the man to offer Riner his stiffest test in Morocco then it will be all but indisputable for him not to be considered as the second best male heavyweight judoka on the planet. The Georgian, though, will have more lofty ambitions in Marrakech and after his sensational performances you can make a case for him having the capability to spring an upset that would send shockwaves from North Africa to all four corners of the world via, Guadeloupe, Paris and Tbilisi.
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