Paris Grand Slam: Gold and Bronze for the Belgian judokas
With a gold won by Toma Nikiforov (-100 kg), and a bronze for Sami Chouchi (-81 kg), Belgium put in a great performance at one of the biggest judo events of the season.
Toma Nikiforov had major problems on the Paris tatami at the start of the tournament as he defeated Mongolian Gonchigsuren Batkhuyag. The Belgian judoka then regained control in the quarter- and semi-finals, winning his fights on ippon against the Swiss Daniel Eich and the Japanese Kentaro Iida respectively.
In the final, he came up against the Israeli Peter Paltchik. Facing the seventh best judoka in the world, the fight was hesitant and everything was decided by a golden score. After 2 minutes and 28 seconds of extra time, the Israeli made an attack deemed too dangerous by the referee. The Israeli was disqualified, and Toma Nikiforov could raise his arms to the sky in victory.
"I'm super happy. It's a special feeling. Not many Belgians have won this tournament. It was a long day. It didn't start out very well. I had some ups and downs but I ended up with this gold medal. I hope I gave Belgium a buzz and there will be more," he said after this second Grand Slam (he already won Tashkent last year).
And Sami Chouchi took the bronze in the under 81 kilo category. The 28-year-old Belgian judoka won the third-place play-off against the Israeli Sagi Muki on waza-ari in a golden score.
After Matthias Casse's win in Portugal, which saw him become world number 1 a few days ago, Belgian judokas continue to impress on the international scene.