Thursday, July 3, 2014

Judo Grand Prix, Ulaanbaatar 2014 - PREVIEW

(Via IJF)


The second edition of the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix takes on new significance this year as athletes make their final preparations for the World Championships and step up their Olympic ambitions for Rio 2016.  


The ever-developing city of Ulaanbaatar stages the first Grand Prix of the year in Asia following new Grand Prix events in Havana and Budapest as the World Judo Tour lives up to its name.

Mongolia is home to some of judo’s most revered athletes and their second taste of the World Judo Tour has attracted the leading countries in judo. The Grand Prix will be contested over three days at the Buyant Ukhaa Sport Complex and there is feeling of excitement and nerves in the air for the athletes who are either fighting for a place at the World Championships, fighting towards a medal at the annual showpiece, or for youngsters the competition is one in a vast number they will undertake in search of making their Olympic dream a reality.  

The Ulaanbaatar faithful will see 284 judoka compete from 27 countries as 165 men and 119 women meet to decide the fate of the 14 gold medals on offer and the immeasurable reward of world ranking points as August’s World Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, looms large for the athletes and officials from every delegation. 


Official Draw of the Judo Grand Prix, Ulaanbaatar 2014


Mr. Vladimir BARTA, IJF Head Sports Director, opened the draw on Thursday at the Blue Sky Tower Hotel as he welcomed the assembled officials to Ulaanbaatar. 

“Hello everyone, it is a great pleasure to be in Mongolia, a country where judo really is the number one sport. We’ve staged new Grand Prix events in different continents recently, as we went to Havana and then Budapest and now we move on to Asia to return to Mongolia for the second edition of the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix. I thank the athletes and countries for supporting this event and I thank our hosts, the Mongolian Judo Association, for all their efforts. I wish good luck to everyone and I hope you enjoy the competition.”

Mr. BIRA Pagva, Mongolian Judo Association Vice President, said: “I welcome everyone to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for our second Grand Prix. We are very happy to see you all here and thank you for your attendance. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Mongolia and good luck for the competition.”

On the eve of the competition, IJF and MJA officials gathered for the welcome reception which featured traditional Mongolian musical performances amid a receptive audience who are looking forward to being part of a key event on not only the IJF calendar but also the sporting agenda in Mongolia.  

Mr. BARTA said: “Thanks to the Mongolian Judo Association for the hospitality and for organising the Chinggis Khan Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix. I wish good luck to the referees and coaches and all participants.”

Mr. BIRA said: “I’d like to welcome you all once again to Ulaanbaatar and I hope the Mongolian hospitality, the Mongolian judo and experience will be something you all enjoy.” 

FOLLOW THE COMPETITION



WOMEN

-48kg

Mongolia’s first female judo world champion MUNKHBAT Urantsetseg (MGL) won gold at her home event in 2013 and will believe the same result on Friday can ensure she is ready to defend her world crown in August. Teammate GALBADRAKH Otgontsetseg (MGL) lost out to MUNKHBAT in the lightweight final last year and will compete again in front of her home fans with her Budapest Grand Prix bronze medal still fresh in her mind. 

-52kg

World number four Mareen KRAEH (GER) is the top seed in Ulaanbaatar having showed good form in 2014. The 30-year-old won bronze medals at the Paris Grand Slam, Dusseldorf Grand Prix and Havana Grand Prix and will have her mind focused on topping the podium in Mongolia. Former world bronze medallist MUNKHBAATAR Bundmaa (MGL) will also be in action along with former Junior World bronze medallist Barbara MAROS (HUN).

-57kg

Four-time world medallist Telma MONTEIRO (POR) is not only a standout in the -57kg category but is one of the most accomplished judoka in action at the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix. The 28-year-old took bronze at the European Championships in April and will be focused on stepping up her bid for a maiden world crown having finished second on three occasions. Rijeka Grand Prix bronze medallist Catherine BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD (CAN), former Samsun Grand Prix bronze medallist Tina ZELTNER (AUT) and Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Hedvig KARAKAS (HUN) are also in action. 

-63kg

World number seven Martyna TRAJDOS (GER) is the -63kg fighter to beat in Mongolia. The German will be boosted by her silver medal the Budapest Grand Prix and will be confident of earning successive Grand Prix silverware on Saturday. The home crowd will be rooting for 20-year-old BALDORJ Mungunchimeg (MGL) who took bronze here in 2013 while KATAGIRI Natsumi (JPN) will fly the flag for Japan as she aims for first IJF World Judo Tour medal of her career after a best fifth-place at the Tokyo Grand Slam last year. 

-70kg

Havana Grand Prix bronze medallist Kelita ZUPANCIC (CAN) is the number one seed in the -70kg category. Former world number one ZUPANCIC, who took a silver medal at the invite-only World Judo Masters last year, will be challenged by Budapest Grand Prix winner Iljana MARZOK while unknown quantity KIM Jong Sun (PRK) will be worth watching as North Korea have entered a 10-strong team.

-78kg

Top seed Abigel JOO (HUN) will lead the charge for Europe in a field where Asia could dominate. JOO, 23, won bronze at the first Budapest Grand Prix and will need to be at her best in Ulaanbaatar because world champion SOL Kyong (PRK) returns to the World Judo Tour while world number seven JEONG Gyeong-Mi (KOR) could add to Asia’s potential stranglehold of the category. World number five and former European bronze medallist Luise MALZAHN (GER) will also be in action.  

+78kg

European bronze medallist Jasmin KUELBS (GER) has been plugging away on the World Judo Tour this year and is as consistent a performer there is in the heavyweight field. World number six KUELBS, 22, who took bronze in Budapest, could face an Asian onslaught in her pursuit of victory on Mongolian soil including the forceful Baku Grand Slam winner KIM Eunkyeong (KOR). Home fighter GANBAT Odonjargal (MGL) is just 17 years old and will relish a taste of the World Judo Tour in her homeland as the hosts show their refreshing willingness to experiment and give opportunities to young judoka. 


MEN

-60kg

European champion and world mumber three Beslan MUDRANOV (RUS) is the leading name in the men’s lightweight category which will be contested on Friday. Chinese Taipei’s teenage revelation TSAI Ming Yen (TPE) took bronze at the Paris Grand Slam in February and a place on the podium is within the grasp of the 18-year-old in Mongolia. The hosts won three of the four medals on offer in this weight last year and will hope for more of the same from GANBAT Boldbaatar (MGL), GANBOLD Kherlen (MGL), TSENDOCHIR Tsogtbaatar (MGL) and MUNKHTUR Ganbold (MGL) this time around.

-66kg

World number seven DAVAADORJ Tumurkhuleg (MGL) took bronze here in 2013 and will be determined to improve on that effort this weekend. The 23-year-old Asian champion won bronze at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix and is due a victory on the World Judo Tour after last topping the podium at the 2013 Baku Grand Slam. Tokyo Grand Slam winner TAKAJO Tomofumi (JPN) has missed out on selection for the World Championships due to Japan’s immense strength in the -66kg category and will be more than motivated to produce a strong showing in Mongolia.    

-73kg

Mongolian legend KHASHBAATAR Tsagaanbaatar (MGL), who won bronze at the Budapest Grand Prix, is the top seed in the -73kg category. The 30-year-old from Uvs Province won bronze at the Athens 2004 Olympics and gold at the 2009 World Championships. Samsun Grand Prix winner Christopher VOELK (GER) will be fighting as part of a 16-strong German team while Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Zebeda REKHVIASHVILI (GEO) and former Paris Grand Slam runner-up Bruno MENDONCA (BRA) also see action. 

-81kg

The -81kg category will be rich on talent and intrigue in Asia on Saturday as Beijing Olympic silver medallist and two-time world champion WANG Ki-Chun (KOR), returns to the World Judo Tour duty along with a star-studded roster of judoka. World number three and European bronze medallist Sven MARESCH (GER) is the top seed and he’ll demand a performance from himself as targets World Championship honours for the first time. Olympic bronze medallist Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN) and World Judo Masters runner-up NAGASHIMA Keita (JPN) are among the wealth of judoka capable of winning gold in Ulaanbaatar. 

-90kg

World bronze medallist Kirill DENISOV (RUS) will have the pressure of producing a performance as the top seed in the -90kg category. DENISOV is also weeks away from fighting at the World Championships in Russia and with this in his sights will be a daunting prospect for any fighter in Mongolia. World number 14 Beka GVINIASHVILI (GEO) is still only 18 but the gutsy Georgian is a high-quality operator with the power and confidence on someone far beyond his tender years. 
  

-100kg

Olympic bronze medallist Dimitri PETERS (GER) is the leading man in the -100kg category according the seeding but has a plentiful field to overcome on Sunday. Russia’s 29-year-old Olympic champion Tagir KHAIBULAEV (RUS) reappears on the World Judo Tour, Dusseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist Rafael BUZACARINI (BRA) stakes a claim for a place in Chelyabinsk and world number 12 Javad MAHJOUB is always a highly-capable fighter. Junior world champion and Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist Kyle REYES (CAN) is one of the most exciting young judoka in the sport and could continue his rise to prominence in Mongolia. 

+100kg

World number three Adam OKRUASHVILI (GEO) is one of the most active heavyweights in judo with four World Judo Tour medals already to his name this year. OKRUASHVILI bounced back from a fifth-place disappointment in Havana by restoring normal business in Budapest where he won gold in a determined fashion. European bronze medallist Andre BREITARTH (GER), Miami Grand Prix bronze medallist BOLDPUREV Sugarjargal (MGL), Paris Grand Slam runner-up David MOURA (BRA) and the winner in Paris, SHICHINOHE Ryu (JPN), are all among the names worth keeping tabs on during the final day. 

COMPETITION PROGRAMME
Friday
11:00 Preliminaries on three mats
16:00 Opening ceremony
17:00 Final block on one mat

Women: -48kg, -52kg, -57kg 
Men: -60kg, -66kg 

Saturday
11:00 Preliminaries on three mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

Women: -63kg, -70kg
Men: -73kg, -81kg

Sunday
11:00 Preliminaries on three mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

Women: -78kg, +78kg
Men: -90kg, -100kg, +100kg

Location: Buyant Ukhaa Sport Complex

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