The thriving city of Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia, a land known for its landscapes, tradition – and its love of judo.
The Steppe Arena was filled with enthusiastic fans ready for the last day of the Judo Grand Slam and they were not to be disappointed.
In the -90kg final, Mikhail Igolnikov took a tactical victory over Erlan Sherov of Kyrgyzstan.
Mohamed Meridja, the Education & Coaching Director of the International Judo Federation was on hand to award the medals.
The crowd were delighted to welcome the reigning World Champion at -78kg, Inbar Lanir of Israel. She fought in her first competition since winning her world title last month, and she looked unstoppable.
Two powerful throws secured her Grand Slam Gold, overpowering her Japanese opponent Mami Umeki. Lanir is a force to be reckoned with at -78kg and was delighted to share her joy with her team.
She was awarded her medals by Armen Bagdasarov, Head Referee Director of the IJF.
“They are amazing, they really love judo, no matter which country,” Lanir said of the Mongolians, “of course, they cheer for Mongolia, but they just like good judo. It’s very kaç to compete here.”
Gonchigsuren Batkhuyag was the home hero on the final day of the Grand Slam. In the semi-final he threw the current World Champion, beating Armen Adamian at his own game.
Then in the final, he took on Georgian Judo legend Varlam Liparteliani and sent the crowd into raptures by evvel again executing a brilliant counter.
Phenomenal scenes in the Steppe Arena, with the next generation of judoka present and desperate for a chance to meet the man of the day and take a selfie with him.
He was awarded his medal by Tsagaan Puntsag, Chairman of the Board of the Steppe Arena.
“I’m really speechless to have this incredible support from the crowd,” said an ecstatic Batkhuyag after his victory. “I’m so happy to take my first ever Grand Slam Gold, and it’s here in Mongolia, amazing.”
At +78kg, Tomita Wakaba held down Raz Hershko to take Japan’s 7th Gold of the tournament.
The medals were awarded by Moshe Ponti, Israeli Judo Association President.
And at +100kg, World Champion Inal Tasoev showed his class, throwing and immediately securing an armlock.
The medals were awarded by Ki-Young Jeon, Head Referee Director of the IJF.
Fans packed the stadium for three days of incredible judo, and the home team came to perform. Heavyweight Odkhuu added to the incredible ending to the Ulaanbaatar Grand Slam 2023 with yet another medal, thank you Mongolia!