It was difficult for the favourites of the men’s categories at the second day of the Judo Grand Slam in Tashkent, as the top four seeds U73kg, Rustam Orujov (AZE), Tommy Macias (SWE), Victor Sterpu (MDA) and Somon Makhmadbekov (TJK) were all eliminated during the preliminary rounds, with the only survivor being Rustam Orujov, having an entry into the repechage.
Eventually it was the day of Zhansay Smagulov (KAZ) and Tsend-Ochir Tsogtbaatar (MGL), who stepped forward into the final.
After a very tight match and in the golden score period, Zhansay Smagulov thought he had scored a ippon but after checking the video the Kazakh was clearly grabbing under the belt to execute his movement. Both athletes having already two shido to their name, Smagulov was awarded a third penalty, synonymous with victory for Tsend-Ochir Tsogtbaatar.
Zhansay Smagulov has no reason to be sad because he took home a beautiful silver medal, but judo fans got confused yesterday. This man has thrown in the final, during the golden score period. It was a big throw and a spectacular one, but rules are rules and we need to follow them. After such a heated and emotional struggle, the Kazakh succeeded in bringing down his Mongolian opponent. Waza-ari was announced and we could see the joy of the athlete. We could also observe Tsend-Ochir signaling about the legs. The referee supervisors were already looking closely at the video, to see if the action was with infringements from touching the leg or if it was simply a beautiful o-uchi-gari at the right moment. On the big screen of the venue, everything was clear and the hand could be seen as it slipped on to the leg. Rules are rules! The third penalty was announced and victory and the gold went to a happy Tsogtbaatar Tsend-Ochir (MGL), along with 1000 points in the pocket.
Rio Olympic Games silver medallist Rustam Orujov (AZE) could consol himself by reaching the bronze medal match against Obidkhon Nomonov (UZB), who had the full support of the home crowd. Despite this support, Nomonov couldn't avoid being thrown for waza-ari with a precise sumi-gaeeshi, one that Orujov was capable of saving until the end of normal time.
Since his victory at the Tbilisi Grand Prix and his bronze medal in Antalya a few weeks later, back in 2019, Guillaume Chaine (FRA) was looking to get back on track to be able to compete at the highest level. Today the Frenchman delivered a nice performance during the preliminary rounds; the most important one being his clear victory against Olympic Champion, Fabio Basile (ITA), in the third round, before he was defeated in the quarterfinal by the Uzbek Obidkhonvs Nomonov.
We all know the Rio Olympic Champion at -66kg, Fabio Basile and his amazing judo. At U73kg we are seeing him growing and trying to take the lead in the category and this is challenging. Fabio has a lot of confidence and definitely has a winner’s mentality. Judo is the most important priority in his life and he is here to show it. As he often says, "I am always ready." Fabio is respectful and loved by all, but yesterday he had a day like we haven’t seen before. The man responsible for Basile’s unfortunate day, is the Frenchman Guillaume Chaine. In the second round of the U73kg category the venue froze; what a throw! An enormous ura-nage!
For the bronze medal contest, Chaine faced Ferdinand Karapetian (ARM), second in Tel Aviv last year. Chaine thought he had done enough by scoring waza-ari with an acrobatic uchi-mata, but Karapetian replied with an aerial movement for ippon this time.