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Manuel Lombardo warming up for the blockbusters

Manuel Lombardo warming up for the blockbusters

2 Mar 2024 15:30
IJF Team by Vimal Sankar Thiruthiyil Neduvenchery and JudoInside
Ekaterina Polejaeva / International Judo Federation

The hosts Uzbekistan were hopeful of a positive finish on day two of the Grand Slam in Tashkent with no less than 3 of the top 8 seeds U73kg being Uzbekistan. First, third and sixth positions were occupied by Murodjon Yuldoshev, Shakhram Akhadov and Obidkhon Nomanov respectively.

The final was fought at very close quarters by Danil Lavrentev (AIN) and Manuel Lombardo. Several close calls in ne-waza put the Italian under pressure but little separated them in the standing phases. Eventually the gold went to Lombardo when Lavrentev collected a third shido. It was just the third Grand Slam victory for Lombardo in his career and follows up Yuldoshev (UZB) who won gold last year.

The first bronze medal contests between Makhmadbek Makhmadbekov (AIN) and Akhadov (UZB) was won on penalties with Akhadov dominating the gripping.

The second medal of the category was to be taken home by either Nomanov (UZB) or Shamshayev (KAZ). In the first exchange Nomanov gripped and turned finding an awkward position for the Kazakh, but undeterred Shamshayev picked Nomanov up with a huge ura-nage and threw for what looked like ippon. However, he landed with very little rotation, head first and was disqualified.

Following their paths through the day offers a good flavour of the category, so we can begin with Yuldoshev. He dealt with Jack Yonezuka (USA) in round two with a sumi gaeshi first and then a long phase of expert transition into a yoko-shiho-gatame to finish. Batzaya (MGL) was next to exit at his hands before heading into a quarter-final with Lavrentev (AIN). This didn’t go the Uzbek’s way, Lavrentev holding on to a score he earned from a neat throw until the end of the allotted time.

Yuldoshev dropped into the repechage where he met and lost to Makhmadbekov (AIN) who had himself been impressive through the early rounds. Shamshayev (KAZ) had put ejected him from the path to gold but his repechage win against the home athlete lifted his spirits again to make him a dangerous opponent in the bronze medal contest lying ahead.

Akhadov, seeded 3rd, had a challenging day but one mark of a high level athlete is their ability to win when under a great deal of pressure and Akhadov was under pressure all day. He beat Hristov (BUL) on penalties, Osmanov (MDA) by waza-ari and then his teammate Nomanov also on penalties.

His semi-final was where he came undone, not able to manage the determination of Manuel Lombardo. The Italian had already thrown Terada (THA) with ko-soto-gake in under 40 seconds, Aliyev (AZE) and Stodolski (POL) also getting thrown ahead of Lombardo’s aforementioned semi-final.

Nomonov began well with a bye and two wins before his quarter-final loss against Akhadov but he won again in the repechage to face Shamshayev who had lost to Lavrentev 14 seconds into golden score via an unorthodox pick-up in their semi-final.

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