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Vedat Albayrak third Grand Slam winner ever for Turkey

25 Oct 2020 00:35

 IJF Media Department and JudoInside    IJF Gabriela Sabau / International Judo Federation
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The category U81kg in Budapest was interesting with a good field of some of the top players, but lacking the top three in the world. With the presence of the world number 4, Vedat Albayrak of Turkey, the world and Olympic medalist Antoine Valois-Fortier (CAN), the reigning Olympic Champion Khasan Khalmurzaev (RUS) and the 2018 World Champion Saeid Mollaei (MGL), the U81kg group was particularly generous to its spectators on the occasion of this grand slam.

The semi-final between the Mongolian and the Canadian will be logged as a reminder of the bravery of competition, with the two athletes giving everything they could to win. Last year in Tokyo, it was Mollaei who won, but this time it was Valois-Fortier.

Vedat Albayrak (TUR) achieved the perfect finish. Dominated by the Canadian, even if the latter had been penalised twice, the Turkish fighter, as the golden score loomed, threw Valois-Fortier with a massive ko-soto gari, immediately followed by an immobilisation for ippon. Albayrak captured only the third gold medal for Turkey in a Grand Slam. Previous Ebru Sahin took gold in 2013 in Baku and Bilal Ciloglu was the first Turkish man to win a Grand Slam in in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Valois Fortier made a few technical errors that cost him the title and left him in second place. “For me, the final round highlighted the limits of my strength and my preparation. I saw that there are aspects of my judo that still need to be worked on,” he explained. “I’m confident that with time and more competition experience, I’ll get to where I need to be to win. I wanted to get an idea of what I need to work on, so I’m just glad to have had the opportunity to compete. That was my goal and I achieved it.” This was the Quebecker’s sixth Grand Slam medal.

With Saeid Mollaei, you always have to expect everything. In the semi-final, he narrowly missed out on passing the Valois-Fortier obstacle. In the bronze medal contest, re-focused, the 2018 World Champion, with his ability to attack in all directions and in sometimes strange positions, produced one of the most beautiful moves of the day; a harai-tsuri-komi-goshi for ippon, in the face of the De Wit (NED) bulldozer. The second bronze medal was a surprise, as Olympic Champion, Khasan Khalmurzaev, was thrown for ippon with a superb drop-sode-tsuri-komi-goshi, by Nicolas Chilard, offering a second bronze medal for the French men's team.

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