Lasha Bekauri is back!
It's gold for Lasha Bekauri
Some players have taken their own sweet time to return to competition after the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Germany’s -90kg silver medalist Eduard Trippel, for example, waited until July this year to compete again.
Trippel’s first competition after the Olympics was the 2022 Hungary Grand Slam, where he exited after his first fight. He did much better at the Zagreb Grand Prix where he got a bronze medal.
The player who beat Trippel, Georgia’s Lasha Bekauri, took even longer to return to competition, and his strategy for doing so was a bit different. Instead of going straight into the IJF World Tour, Bekauri decided to take part in a relatively smaller European Open competition.
At the Oberwart European Open Bekauri had an interesting semifinal and final, fighting two siblings from Austria.
In the semifinal, he met Shamil Borchashvili, who normally fights at -81kg. Bekauri threw him twice, first with tsurikomi-goshi for waza-ari and then soto-makikomi for waza-ari-awasete-ippon.
That took him into the final, against Wachid Borchashvili, whom he threw with a slick whirling ouchi-gari that scored ippon.
His win in Oberwart will surely be a boost of confidence for Bekauri, whose next competition should be the Tashkent World Championships.