In the U52kg category at the Baku Grand Slam, the first half of the draw didn’t go as planned with Uzbek Kadamboeva, 59th in the standings, almost making it to the top, leaving just her place to the Mongolian Lkhagvasuren in the semi-finals, also unseeded. World number 2 Pupp (HUN) lost to an unranked Bulgarian who then lost as well.
In the final, not content with being a runner-up, Keldiyorova battled Lkhagvasuren (MGL) with serene maturity, throwing quite comfortably, rolling under the Mongol to be the champion. This is his 3rd Grand Slam gold medal on a growing CV.
The bottom half of the draw went almost exactly as planned. Kadamboeva’s teammate Keldiyorova didn’t slip up at all and unlike the top half, the bottom half was bathed in Uzbek colors. The semi-final between double Olympic medalist Odette Giuffrida (ITA) and the ever more consistent Keldiyorova (UZB) was quite an ordeal. Lots of unfinished attacks from both and a rambling grip, but in the end, an unplanned and well-felt moment resulted in a waza-ari that sent Giuffrida to the bronze medal contest to face the giant slayer, Dimitrova , the judoka who had ended Pupp’s day. .
Giuffrida takes bronze
Dimitrova knew she had built herself a special day, with ippon against Uzbekistan in the quarter-final after 8 minutes of intense judo, convincingly facing Valiyeva in the repechage final, taking two waza-ari scores. Confronting Giuffrida is not for the faint of heart but Odette seemed stuck, unable to assert her usual dominance. Her confidence is inspiring, but today it was shaken and the 21-year-old Bulgarian, with no more than two continental bronze medals to her name, stepped forward as if it was normal. She gave an impressive account of herself and when Giuffrida finally, under increasingly loud instructions from her coach, countered for the bronze medal, at 8½ minutes. It was a sukashi from which Dimitrova will learn but she is the heroine of this category today.
Kadamboeva wins second medal for Uzbekistan
The second bronze medal was won by Kadamboeva. It was a mistake by Kaleta (POL) that allowed Keldiyorova to come away with the medal, a rookie mistake in fact. The Uzbek came in for a low but not solid attack. The Pole straddled his back and tried to take the arm for a juji-gatame but Kadamboeva wasn’t finished and pulled the Pole through, completing the push forward. It was almost a seoi-nage but what is more important than the label is the score and it was just what Uzbekistan needed.
Two medals in the U52kg category for Uzbekistan a good basis for future success.