1st win for Dutchman Frank De Wit since 2017. 1st final for Frenchman Walide Khyar since his comeback after his injury. Final but 1st defeat of Ukrain’s Daria Bilodid after 38 successes in a row... The 2019 Tbilisi Grand-Prix (March 29-31) in short.
By Ludovic Mauchien
For the vast majority of Judokas, winning a silver medal when returning to competition after 5 months of absence is an excellent result. Not for Daria Bilodid. To see her sad face on the podium of the Tbilisi Grand Prix (March 29-31) clearly makes anyone to understand that the young prodigy, 18, was extremely disappointed.
It is true that she had lost the habit of losing. Junior and Senior World champion (-48 kg), she was undefeated since 38 fights ! History will remember that it was France’s Melanie Clement who ended her invincibility by scoring 2 waza in the final.
On the contrary, Frank De Wit’s smile was brilliant. The Dutchman, often on the podium, found the way to victory in Georgia. 3rd in Paris, Cancun, Abu Dhabi and the Masters, 2nd in The Hague in 2018, he won his first success since Abu Dhabi 2017 thanks to his victories over Frenchman Djalo in the semi-finals then on the German Cavelius in the -81 kg final (golden score).
Walide Khyar (-60 kg) was close win his 1st success since Tunis in January 2018. For his 4th competition since his injury, the Frenchman has yet reached a higher stage. 3rd in Warsaw in early March, he concluded the month with a beautiful silver medal. After dominating Ukraine’s Lesiuk in the ½ final with a magnificent Ippon, he lost by Waza against Georgia’s Chkhvimiani, who won his 3rd straight success in Tbilisi.
In -90 kg, Beka Gviniashvili was willing to win a second Tbilisi Open, in the wake of his final in Yekaterinburg. But it was one of his fellow countrymen who betrayed him. Dominated in the ½ final by Papunashvili, he then won the bronze medal match against the 2017 world champion, Serbia’s Majdov (golden score).
This Tbilisi Grand-Prix was also the opportunity to discover new local talents, such as Giorgi Tutashvili in -66 kg. Totally unknown, the young Georgian (20 years old) reached the final where he lost to Tal Flicker. The Israeli, 5th in the Worlds last September, won his 1st success since Zagreb last summer.
His compatriot Gili Cohen (-52 kg) is on a cloud. In Tbilisi, she played her 3rd final since the beginning of the year. The Yekaterinburg Grand Slam winner had this time to bow against Italy’s Giuffrida.
At the end of these three days of competition, France finishes at the top of the ranking with 7 medals including 3 gold. The Georgian armada, without being complete, finished 2nd nation with 10 medals (2, 2, 6) ahead of Netherlands (2, 1, 3).