Photographs by Emanuele Di Feliciantonio, Tamara Kulumbegashvili.

The Dushanbe Grand Slam 2024, the second ever IJF World Judo Tour event to be hosted in Tajikistan, concluded with a remarkable performance by the judokas from the East Asian region. The 3,500 capacity Kasri Tennis Arena was sold out across the three days of competition, with many more spectators watching the action unfold on the large screens set up in the fan zone outside the venue.

The women’s -48kg final saw a thrilling encounter between Bavuudorj Baasankhuu of Mongolia and Beder Tugce of Turkey. Beder was the more active participant, launching numerous tomoe-nage attacks, but Bavuudorj met the pace and countered with effective seoi-otoshi attempts. After a close and long-fought contest that went into extra time, Bavuudorj found a new gear and out-attacked Beder, earning the gold medal with her third penalty.

-48 kg, FINAL BEDER Tugce (TUR) vs BAVUUDORJ Baasankhuu (MGL)

Bavuudorj Baasankhuu (MGL) winning gold in the -48kg division.

In the women’s -52kg category, the bronze medal contest was a closely contested match-up between Asvesta of Cyprus and Yerin Jung of Korea. Jung, who had only one World Judo Tour medal to her name prior to this event, managed to secure the bronze with a well-timed left ko-uchi-gari in the final minute of the bout.

-52kg JUNG Yerin (KOR) vs ASVESTA Sofia (CYP)

In the -57kg category, Lkhagvatogoo Enkhriilen of Mongolia lost a waza-ari to Jessica Klimkait of Canada but managed to claim the bronze medal.

Bronze medal contest, Mina Libeer (BEL) vs Enkhriilen Lkhagvatogoo (MGL)

On the men’s side, Hayato Kondo of Japan won bronze in the -60kg event, he came close to scoring twice with explosive uchi-mata attacks. In the closing seconds, he effortlessly countered his French opponent’s tani-otoshi attempt to earn ippon and a second grand slam medal.

Mongolia also earned a podium finish, with Jugdergarav Enkhtur and Batzaya Erdenebayar both taking fifth place in the -73kg competition.

Bronze medal contest, Maxime Merlin (FRA) vs Hayato Kondo (JPN)

The highlight of the men’s competition was the -81kg final between Yoshito Hojo of Japan and Wachid Borchashvili of Austria. Hojo, who was undefeated at the international level, displayed his mastery of the sport, perfectly controlling Borchashvili’s powerful kata-guruma attack and then taking him down twice for waza-ari to secure the gold medal.

Final, Yoshito Hojo (JPN) vs Wachid Borchashvili (AUT)

Gold medallist, Yoshito Hojo (JPN)

The impressive performances by the East Asian judokas at the Dushanbe Grand Slam 2024 showcase the continued strength and depth of the region’s judo talent. With the Asian Championships 2024 and other major events on the horizon, these results will undoubtedly serve as a strong foundation for the East Asian Judo Union’s athletes as they look to build on their success and make their mark on the international stage.