Grand Slam Gold for Oates in Baku

Great Britain judoka Colin Oates took a career best result as he won gold in the Baku Grand Slam, Azerbaijan. The event is one of four Grand Slams, the top level events on the International Judo Federation’s (IJF) world tour. Norfolk judoka Oates, who trains full-time in Scotland, overcame a strong field in the Azerbaijani capital to claim his first IJF world tour title, bettering his silver medal claimed at last year’s Moscow Grand Slam. Oates started his journey to the gold with a narrow victory on shidos over former Olympic bronze medallist and double World Champion Rishod Sobirov of Uzbekistan. That set up a meeting with Georgia’s Shalva Kardava, a bronze medallist in Baku in 2013. Oates overcame his opponent scoring ippon whilst already being a yuko up in the contest. The semi-final saw Oates face Golan Pollack. The young Israeli, who claimed four medals on the IJF tour last year, was not able to better the GB star, with Oates throwing Pollack for yuko before gaining a second on the ground and claiming a place in the final. Russian fighter Kamal Khan-Magomedov waited for him in the final. Two minutes into the contest Oates threw the former European silver medallist for waza-ari before holding down the Russian in the dying seconds for a win by ippon. Commenting on his victory, Oates said: “It’s a great feeling for me to win my first Grand Slam. “What’s important now, with Olympic qualification starting, is to maintain this level of performance consistently.” GB Coach Jean-Paul Bell added: “Colin was tactically superb today against world-class opponents. “It is now a good opportunity to take this level of performance into the qualification period, especially as this should move him into the all-important world top eight.” Earlier in the day, Londoner Ashley McKenzie was in action at -60kg, but lost out by ippon to Azerbaijan’s Vugar Shirinli. The competition continues tomorrow with Sally Conway in action at -70kg, whilst Natalie Powell (-78kg) will complete the GB line-up on Sunday. Action starts at 10:00 local time (06:00 BST) with live video on and results at Image Copyright Fighting Films – Jack Willingham –