Serbian technician Aleksandar Kukolj had the measure of world champion Nikoloz Sherazadishvili of Spain in the U90kg category as the anticipated and mouthwatering final lived up to its expectations. Ekaterinburg Grand Slam winner Kukolj needed only 39 seconds to defeat the owner of the red backpatch at U90kg by ippon from a low seoi-otoshi.
The two standouts of the category shared a classy moment after their final as you would expect from two men whose etiquette is absolutely exemplary on the tatami. World number two Kukolj, who prepared for the last Grand Prix of the year with a camp in Rio de Janeiro training alongside Brazil’s Flavio Canto and David Moura, closed the gap on the world number one with two IJF events left in 2018.
In the first semi-final Sherazadishvili beat world number 37 Peter Zilka (SVK) by two waza-ari scores without reply to ease into the gold medal contest. In the second semi-final Kukolj defeated Agadir Grand Prix bronze medallist Joachim Bottieau (BEL) with an uchi-mata for ippon after the Belgian stalled on the ground and the Serbian brought him up and over for the maximum score.
The first bronze medal was won by Hohhot Grand Prix bronze medallist Jesper Smink (NED) who beat Bottieau in a derby contest to open the final block. Home fighter Smink prevailed by a waza-ari score from an ippon-seoi-nage in the ideal start to the medal portion of the day for the Netherlands.
The second bronze medal went to Zilka who reached an IJF medal podium for the first time at the expense of Agadir Grand Prix bronze medallist Quedjau Nhabali (UKR). Zilka threw for a waza-ari score and moved into osaekomi as he held down his Ukrainian opponent for 10 seconds to wrap up the best result of his career.