On the opening day of the Baku Grand Slam, Lele Nairne (club: Bradley Stoke; coach: Pete Douglas) had the best day of her career as she defeated the Olympic Champion en route to finishing in a career-best Grand Slam placing of 5th.
Following an opening-round bye, 8th seed Nairne defeated Hasret Bozkurt (TUR). A spinning uchi mata, for waza-ari score was followed by some great work on the ground, forcing her opponent to tap out. This progressed Nairne to the quarter-finals to face 2020 Olympic Champion Nora Gjakova (KOS).
Nairne produced the fight of her life to defeat Gjakova with an ouchigari for waza-ari score to progress to the semi-finals to face Commonwealth Champion and former World Champion Christa Deguchi (CAN).
In the semi-final contest, with nothing between the pair, the contest entered Golden Score where Nairne was countered and thrown for ippon score.
The result saw Nairne progress to the bronze medal contest to face Ivelina Ilieva (BUL), an athlete ranked just 1 place ahead of her in the world rankings.
With nothing between the pair, the contest entered Golden Score where Ilieva was able to register a score via an osaekomi hold down to claim the bronze medal. The result saw Nairne finish in 5th, which was still a career-best performance, having previously only finished 7th at a Grand Slam.
Also in action was Nekoda Davis (Ealing JC; Jo Crowley) who defeated Munkhtuya Ganbat (MGL) in her opening-round contest. It took Davis a little over 30-seconds to progress thanks to a quick change of direction to register an ippon score.
In the second round, Davis went a score down as Mina Libeer (BEL) registered a waza-ari before transitioning into the osaekomi hold down. Davis saved herself from conceding a second waza-ari score with just a second to spare to keep the contest alive. Davis continued to attack and came close to evening the contest but wasn’t able to find a score to level or win the contest.
Tomorrow sees Lucy Renshall (SKK; Pete Blood) defend her Baku Grand Slam title from 2021. The world number one has an opening round bye before entering the competition.
Preliminary Round action starts at 06:00am (GMT) with Final Block scheduled to start at 13:00.