After the first edition of the Judo Grand Prix in Tbilisi, Georgia, last week, and for the fourth stage of the World Judo Tour 2014 (after Paris Grand Slam, Düsseldorf Grand Prix and Tbilisi Grand Prix), the stars of the World Judo Tour have arrived in Samsun, Turkey for the second edition of the Judo Grand Prix, Samsun 2014, at the YASAR DOGU Sports Arena from Friday 28 - Sunday 30 March.
The World Judo Tour arrives on the north coast of Turkey, in the provincial capital of the Samsun Province. Samsun is renowned as a major Black Sea port and is a fast growing city of more than half a million inhabitants.
On the occasion of the official draw, which was held today at the Anemon Hotel, Mr. Armen Bagdasarov gave the welcoming speech to welcome the heads of delegations of 256 athletes representing 44 national federations: "In the name of the IJF President, Mr. Marius Vizer, I welcome all of you in the beautiful city of Samsun for this second edition of the event. Thank you to the Turkish Judo Federation, its president, Mr. Fatih UYSAL and his team, for the great work that has been done so far to host a successful event."
Mr. Fatih UYSAL then declared: "Dear Friends, dear guests: "Dear Friends, dear guest, dear Judo team representatives, welcome in Samsun! I hope that all of you will enjoy your stay in Samsun. This event is very important for all of us. It is a good promotion for the city and the province of Samsun and for Turkey as well. I wish all the best to all the athletes, their coaches, officials and referess and once again thank you for coming to our country to enjoy our sport."
Mr. Daniel Lascau, IJF Refereeing Director conducted the official draw of the competition in front of all the delegates and the media.
Mr. Jan SNIJDERS, IJF Head Referee Director, said: “Everyone now has had some time to put the new rules into practice at competitions and actually we can say that the new rules are not any more new, but they are now the current rules. Once again, we will make sure that those rules are respected by everybody to offer a great judo show to all the judo fans in Samsun, in Turkey and around the world."
During the official press conference, which followed the draw, Mr. Hüseyin Aksoy, the Governor of Samsun, said: "We are all very happy and proud to host one of the major International Judo events of the season. For many years, we have been investing many things for the development of sport and our reagion is now well know for its capacity to produce top level athletes. Samsun is the number one city in the Black Sea area and the 7th in Turkey in terms of sports results and every year we are gaining positions. We have fantastic sporting facilities such as the stadium were the competition will be held over de weekend. But we have also incredible sports facilities such as the Olympic Center."
IJF and Turkish officials together with the Governor of Samsun Region (center), after the presse conference
Visit to the Olympic Center
Indeed, prior to the competition, an IJF delegation visited the Olympic Training Center of Samsun and Trabzon and the IJF Officials were very impressed. Mr. Daniel Lascau, the IJF Sports Director, said: "The training facilities are of a very high standard. In Samsun, the men's judo team, has three training areas. They also have access to the gym, and have a strong and professional medical support. Everything is available on spot to have the best conditions to train."
The IJF delegation and Turkish delegation visit the Olympic Center
The center offers 52 rooms and full accommodation. Two coaches are in charge of the running of the center. Trabzon is even biger as 4 training areas are available for the women's team. In total 110 people can be accommodated. "For sure, this is a fantastic development tool for the Turkish Judo Federation."
Prior to the draw, the IJF refereeing commission and the IJF sports commission organized a refereeing seminar with all the Turkish Referees and Coaches. More than 45 people took part in the meeting. After having welcomed all the participants, Mr. Jan Snjiders, IJF Head Refereeing Director said: "We already had such kind of seminar in Tbilisi last weekend and it was very successful. It gives to all of us the opportunity to meet and explain again the judo refereeing rules that will be applied throughout the Olympic qualification period up to Rio 2016. It is a great pleasure for us to have in the same room referees and coaches and to show that we are working hand in hand for the benefit of our sport."
Refereeing seminar in Samsun (In the frame, the seminar in Tbilisi last week)
During not less than three hours, all the rules were presented again and explained with the help of concrete examples from the last IJF World Judo Tour events presented by Mr. Bernd Achilles, IJF Refereeing Director. Using a very pedagogical approach and giving the chance to everybody to ask questions, subjects such as gripping, judo on the edge of the fighting area, security of the athletes were discussed.
Mr. Snjiders, who is a European Champion, said: "The referees are not policemen. They are here to help the judoka to produce a spectacular judo. They must let the fight go until something is wrong. But after a Paris Grand Slam with many penalties, we were happy to see that in Düsseldorf and Tbilisi more recently, we had many positive scores at the end of the competition, as we reached more than 80% of positive scores such as yuko, waza-ari and of course ippon."
Mr. Daniel Lascau, IJF Sports Director, who is a World Champion and perfectly knows all the aspects of judo, said to the participants: "To be a referee is not easy. To be a coach is not easy either. But that's why we must act as professional people at all levels. It is not possible to change a wrong matte (stop) during a fight, but it is possible and we have to change a wrong decision. With the help and commitment of everybody, this is what we have to do."
Hüseyin Özkan (center), Sydney Olympic Champion, was present in the room during the seminar
After the three-hour seminar, all participants declared that it had been a great moment to share experience and knowledge. The Turkish referee representatives said: "It is a big chance for our referees, coaches and technical officials to learn more about the rules."
Mr. Snijders concluded: "All referees must have the same way of judging a bout. We can not accept differences and the right winner must always step out the tatami with the victory. I want to thank the Turkish Judo Federation for its great support in organizing such a seminar. Every time the IJF World Judo Tour will stop somewhere in the world, we will do the same, so everybody knows the rules."
The top seeded athlete of the category is Taciana LIMA from Guinea-Bissau. Bronze medallist this year at the European Open, Warsaw 2014 and silver medallist at the Continental Open, Rome 2014, she will try to step on her first IJF podium of the season. Bronze medallist, last week in Tbilisi, Amelie ROSSENEU, who is now competing for Israel, will be the number two seeded of the category. Kay KRAUS (GER) and Maryna CHERNIAK (UKR) will be among the other favorites.
Only 22 years old and already world Champion and world number one, Majlinda KELMENDI (KOS) will be difficult to defeat in the women's -52kg weight category. But she will face strong opposition with Andreea CHITU (ROU), even if the Romanian athlete had a difficult start of the season (7th in Düsseldorf, 5th in Paris), Romy TARANGUL (GER) and Gili COHEN (ISR).
World number two, Myriam ROPER (GER) is still looking for success this year. She will be the top seeded athlete in her weight category. Sabrina FILZMOSER (AUT) will try to reverse the prediction if both athletes reach the semi-final. In the second half of the draw, Ketleyn QUADROS (BRA), bronze medallist of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, will be one of the leaders of the Brazilian delegation, when Corina CAPRIORIU (ROU) will also be among the favorites of the day.
Once again, the women's -63kg weight category will be very interesting to follow. World number one and World champion, Yarden GERBI (ISR) will try to overcome her deception from Tbilisi last weekend. After great preliminary rounds, she was defeated in the final by the former European silver medallist Edwige GWEND (ITA). "I wanted to offer the victory to my coach on his birthday", declared the champion. She might deliver her birthday present with one week delay. But for sure, it is not the idea of Hannah MARTIN (USA), regularly present at the top level, Martyna TRAJDOS (GER) or Mariana BARROS (BRA), who are all among the top seeded athletes of the category.
Silver medallist at the Rio World Championships, last summer and winner of the Rijeka Grand Prix a few weeks later, Laura VARGAS KOCH (GER) is the favorite of the competition in the women's -70kg. But the winner of the Düsseldorf 2014 Grand Prix, Assmaa NIANG (MAR) will want to demonstrate that her victory was not an accident. It will also be very interesting to follow the competition day of Gévrise EMANE (FRA). The French was already world champion in this weight category, before going down to the -63kg where she also became world champion and Olympic Bronze medallist. Back to the origins, EMANE has a new challenge in front of her: to win again in -70kg. She might create the surprise, especially after her brilliant victory in Moroco earlier this year. Sally CONWAY (GBR) and Bernadette GRAF (AUT) will be among the other strong favorites of the category.
In the absence of the top athletes of the category, and among the twelve participants in the women’s -78k, the favorites is the world number seven, Luise MALZAHN from Germany. Just behind her follow Kaouthar OUALLAL (ALG), Natalie POWELL (GBR) and Ivana MARANIC (CRO).
In the women’s +78kg, the silver medallist of the last world championships in Rio, Maria Suelen ALTHEMAN (BRA) is the ultimate favorite. It will be interesting the follow Nihel CHEIKH ROUHOU (TUN), Jasmin KUELBS (GER) and especially Gulsah KOCATURK (TUR), who in front of her public can find extra support and energy.
Winner of the first edition of the Almaty Grand Prix in 2013, Yeldos SMETOV (KAZ) is the top seeded athlete of the category. Bronze medallist at the 2011 World Championships in Paris, Ilgar MUSHKIYEV (AZE), will also be among the favorites. But the men’s -60kg is a very open category, and prediction are quite uncertain. Winner of two Grand Prix last year (Abu Dhabi and Rijeka) Beslan MUDRANOV (RUS) will want to add one more trophy to his prize list as well as the second Kazakh fighter of the category Askhat TELMANOV..
It’s a very interesting category with the men’s -66kg. The top seeded athlete is the silver medallist of the Tokyo Grand Slam, last year, Charles CHIBANA (BRA). On his way to the final, he might find Abdula ABDULZHALILOV (RUS), who will have a tough fight against the Frenchman, Loic KORVAL (FRA), who finished at a beautiful third place in Paris, earlier this year. Two times winner of the Paris Grand Slam (2013, 2012), David LAROSE (FRA), can also be the surprise of the day. In the last quarter of the draw, Colin OATES (GBR) will be the favorite to enter the semi-finals.
In the men’s -73kg, the bronze medallist of last week’s Tbilisi Grand Prix Zebeda REKHVIASHVILI (GEO), will be the favorite of the competition. In Pool B, the London Olympic silver medallist will an other strong potential winner, the last two top seeded athletes being Rustam ORUJOV (AZE), winner of last year’s Baku Grand Slam, and Denis IARTCEV (RUS), bronze medallist at the Tokyo Grand Slam 2013.
With his spectacular judo, Victor PENALBER from Brazil will be the favorite of the competition. But Travis STEVENS (USA), silver medallist last weekend in Tbilisi is in a very good shape and might again be present on the podium. Joachim BOTTIEAU (BEL) and Sven MARESCH (GER) will try to reach the podium as well.
The top seeded athlete of the men’s -90kg is Grigorii SULEMIN (RUS), who won the Moscow Grand Slam last year. In pool B, Hatem ABD EL AKHER (EGY) will be the favorite to reach the semi-final. In pool C, Shahin GAHRAMANOV (AZE), who won the Baku Grand Slam last year, and in pool D, Marc ODENTHAL (GER) will be the favorite to reach the podium.
The winner of the Paris Grand Slam this year, Cyrille MARET (FRA) has good chance to add one more title to his prize list. After a first round against Erdal BAGAC (TUR), he might face Sergei SAMOILOVICH (RUS), who already won 4 IJF World Judo Tour events in his career. Martin PACEK (SWE), Javad MAHJOUB (IRI) and Elmar GASIMOV (AZE) will be the other favorites of the day.
World number three and winner of last weekend’s Grand Prix in his home country, Adam OKRUASHVILI (GEO), is the ultimate favorite of the category. But in the first round he might have to face one of the former leaders of the Ranking List, Islam EL SHEHABY (EGY). Andre BREITBARTH (GER), winner of the Tashkent Grand Prix in 2013, Renat SAIDOV (RUS), bronze medallist in Paris in February and Iurii KRAKOVETSKII (KGZ) are the other favorites.
Friday March 28th
16:15 Opening ceremony
17:00 Final block
16:15 Opening ceremony
17:00 Final block
Women: -48kg, -52kg, -57kg
Men: -60kg, -66kg
Saturday March 29th
17:00 Final block
17:00 Final block
Women: -63kg, -70kg
Men: -73kg, -81kg
Sunday March 30th
17:00 Final block
17:00 Final block
Women: -78kg, +78kg
Men: -90kg, -100kg, +100kg
Location: YASAR DOGU Sports Arena