Trailblazer Georgii Zantaraia ends career but proceeds with own judo school
Ukrainian judo star Georgii Zantaraia has completed his professional career. Head coach of the Ukrainian national team Vitaly Dubrova announced Zantaraia’s decision. The Olympic Games were the last competition of Zantaraia where he fought two contests but lost his second in the 1/8 final. The mentor of the Ukrainian team noted that the 2020 Olympics became the last high-level competitions at which Zantaraia showed his skills.
According to Dubrova, Zantaraia could not win a medal at the Olympics due to the postponement of the Games. Our long-term frontrunner of the national team now ended his career. The Olympic Games were the last high-level competition. Unfortunately, he did not manage to win the coveted Olympic medal and competed three times since the 2012 London Olympic Games but none with success and no place at the best eight of the tournament. His age had an effect, in Tokyo he was already 33 years old. This is a serious age for this category U66kg. The postponement of the Olympics for one year also did not benefit Georgii, coach Dubrova said.
He added that Zantaraia left behind a strong team of Ukrainian athletes who trained with him. Zantaraia saw Daria Bilodid growing, coming and harvesting success and they were both European Champion in 2017 and 2019. Bilodid took bronze in Tokyo for the Ukraine. Also heavyweight Iakiv Khammo is a top 8 player and reached the battle for bronze in Tokyo but finished fifth. In his own weight category U66kg Zantaraia already has a successor in Bogdan Iadov who took medals at Grand Slams and was among the top 8 at World Championships in 2019.
Zantaraia was World Champion for the Ukraine in 2009 in Rotterdam fighting U60kg and was well known for his athletic body and was called Mr. Houdini as he could escape from practically all throws. He taught many young athletes how to escape from nasty attacks in his uncountable clinics he gave. One of his judo palls was Ilias Iliadis with whom he gave plenty clinics around the globe. With TSV Abensberg Zantaraia and Iliadis won the European Club Championships together in 2013. In a team with current double Olympic medallist Lukas Krpalek and Olympic medallists Sugoi Uriarte, Andreas Toelzer and Travis Stevens. At the German Bundesliga he also accompanied Esslingen with whom he won the german title. With Sporting Lisbon he was also active in the team where also Bilodid is part of.
Zantaraia also claimed a silver medal at the World Championship in 2010 and became a bronze medalist four times. He took five consecutive World Championships medals and was World Ranking leader in 2009 and 2010 U60kg and number one in 2015 and 2016 in his new weight U66kg. His last impressive medal was a bronze medal at the Paris Grand Slam in 2020, a precious one among 31 World Cup medals in 15 years international senior judo. He won the IJF Masters in 2015 in Rabat and was the first winner of the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi in 2009 in his most remarkable year. As a youth player Zantaraia won the European Youth Olympic Days in Paris in 2003 at the age of 15. He won the Junior European title in 2006
Zantaraia now 34 is politically engaged in Kiev and busy with the energy transition and Zanta will certainly contribute as a coach to young athletes at the Georgii Zantaraia judo school.