Grand Slam in Tbilisi, six Azzurri close to the podium.  Comi: "I'll explain why it's a positive result"

Fifth place for Lombardo, Castagnola, Toniolo, Betemps, Falcone and Pirelli. The balance of the Azzurri coaches

Had there been six medals, it would have been a record for Italian judo. Yes, because getting on the podium in a Grand Slam is certainly not a trivial matter, but getting close can sometimes prove to be a big undertaking. Over the weekend just spent in Tbilisi, the blue team collected six fifth places, perhaps a little bitter, but still full of interesting evaluations.

Like the fifth place of Manuel Lombardo in the 73 kg, which is certainly not a surprise, but demonstrates the excellent consistency in the new weight category. The other “wooden medals” then came from Martina Castagnola in the 52 kg, Veronica Toniolo in the 57 kg, Cecilia Betemps in the 70 kg, Tiziano Falcone in the 81 kg and from Gennaro Pirelli in the 90 kg. “When you touch the podium it is never easy to digest – comments the blue coach Alessandro Com -, but we want to see the positive side anyway, because everything that has been seen in the race has the hint of a good future”. The six fifth places in fact demonstrate a great energy of the collective, as well as an interesting balance between women and men, with a 3 + 3 that suggests a future even for the great team tournaments.


After having dominated the 66 kg, arriving last year to even cover the first position in the ranking, the defeat in the bronze final at Tokyo2020 and the great effort to stay in weight had led Manuel Lombardo to the decision to officially change category. The move to 73 kg had already paid off with the splendid silver at the Grand Slam in Antalya, but fifth place in Tbilisi, albeit burning, confirmed the excellent work done so far: “His second presence on the international circuit in the new category has been confirmed as one of the best – continues Comi -. When he makes a mistake it is because he lacks too much confidence. It was the same with the Moldovan Pelivan and also with the Georgian Terashvili. We know what he is capable of and gnawing for days like this can be really stimulating: time within time “.


There were also revelations among the Azzurri who came close to the medal: “” Betemps and Falcone were two nice surprises – concludes Comi -. Overcoming the first meeting was decisive for Cecilia, from there things went well, even if not very well, and the balance at the end of the day was positive. Not differently for Tiziano, protagonist of a really exciting race: he is a boy I have known and esteemed for a long time, whose growth is the result of work, perseverance and humility. Among the others today in the race a special mention also for Gigi Centracchio, who in his first Grand Slam still as a junior showed to be at ease even among the greats “.


Sometimes it is not enough to be really in the day, because you know, a little luck never hurts. Castagnola, Toniolo and Pirelli are well aware of this, having ended up in really complicated pools: “Gennaro reached the semifinal by authority – adds the blue coach Raffaele Toniolo -. Despite playing two great matches, he had to surrender first to the Olympic bronze, the Krisztian Toth from Hungary in the semifinals and then, for the third place, to the Japanese Shoichiro Mukai. Martina and Veronica obtained two heavy fifth places. For them the appointment with the first medal in a Grand Slam is only postponed. The important thing was fighting and both fought and collected precious points and important sensations. Francesca Giorda did well too, who had the match in hand with the Spanish Estrella Lopez Sheriff who then also defeated Martina for the bronze. A special mention also for Mario Petrosino who beat the winner of the race in the second round of 60 kg, the Georgian Temur Nozadze, who was really in a top condition. nd Slam with six fifth places, five of which came from young and very young people who will soon give us other satisfactions “.

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