Max Stewart was in outstanding form as he won his first Grand Prix gold in Qingdao, China on Sunday 20 November.
The 23 year old Birmingham judoka has only moved up to -90kg earlier this year but he’s grown into the weight and was a class above the rest of the field in Qingdao as he won each of his contests by ippon showing some great newaza throughout.
He started the day against talented young Mongolian Tsetsentsengel Odkhuu after getting a bye into the second round. Going into the final minute and a half Stewart was leading on shidos but was able to use his groundwork to force osaekomi and progress into the final four.
There he faced Chan Jeon (KOR) who had already won his first two contests by ippon. The British judoka was forced to pick up two shidos by his Korean opponent before he was able to apply shime-waza and force Jeon to tap out.
Altanbagana Gantulga (MGL) was next up in the final and the Mongolian was always going to be a tough opponent having previously medalled at Grand Prix level. Both judoka looked to get ahead early with some decent attacks however two minutes in Stewart saw his opportunity.
Off the back of an attack by Gantulga, Stewart went straight on the attack on the ground as he applied the sode guruma jime and transitioned into osaekomi. However the Mongolian did well to get out after just seven seconds and as a result Stewart went back into applying the strangle. Eventually Gantulga was forced to tap out leaving the British judoka to pick up his first Grand Prix gold medal.
Philip Awiti-Alcaraz was also in action in Qingdao, just missing out on the medals as he came fifth at -100kg. After getting a bye into the second round, Awiti-Alcaraz took on four-time world medallist Kirill Denisov. The Russian was moving up from -90kg but showed his class to take their contest.
Dropping into the repechage the British judoka made short work Rigule Te (CHN) winning their contest by ippon inside 30 seconds to book his place in the bronze medal contest. Russia’s Maksud Ibragimovwould take the bronze medal however as he picked up a single yuko which proved decisive with both judoka tied on shidos.