Thursday, October 9, 2014

Judo Grand Prix, Astana 2014 Official Draw - PREVIEW

(Via IJF)

The IJF World Judo Tour has arrived Kazakhstan’s capital city of Astana for the first event of the season-ending Asian leg of the circuit which starts with the three-day Grand Prix from 10-12 October at Cycle track “Saryarka”.

Following the World Championships in August, the stars of the World Judo Tour returned to action at the Zagreb Grand Prix in September and now they will light up the world’s youngest capital city of Astana.

The 2015 World Championships, the annual judo showpiece and the most important event before the Rio 2016 Olympics, will take place in Astana and countries are eager to make the most of the Astana Grand Prix over the coming days and test all the areas of the organisation.

In addition to a strong international entry, hosts Kazakhstan have selected a 48-strong team (26 men, 22 women).  

They will be led by the talismanic 2009 world champion Maxim RAKOV (-100kg) whilst recent Asian Games gold medal winner Yeldos SMETOV (-60kg) will also look to defend his 2013 Grand Prix title. Kazakhstan starred last year in Almaty as they won five gold, five silver and six bronze medals to top the medal table.

It was announced on Thursday at the press conference that judo enthusiasts will see 277 judoka compete from 37 countries over the three-day Grand Prix.

The Official Draw of the Judo Grand Prix, Astana 2014

IJF Head Sport Director Mr. Vladimir BARTA said that he had had the pleasure of visiting Astana many times and that the national athletes continued to show improvements as well as good results.

Mr. BARTA felt confident that this Grand Prix would also show good results and mentioned that there were three venues under consideration for the World Championships and that to have this number of high quality venues from which to choose was most unusual.

The IJF delegation at the draw 

Kazakhstan Judo Federation First Vice-President Mr. Marat MYKTBEKOV said that he hoped to improve on the performance of the Kazakh athletes in the recent Asian Games and he looked forward to good results in the important qualification process in the lead up to the Olympic Games in 2016.

The Kazakhstan delegation at the draw

Chairman of the Committee of Sport of the Ministry of Sport and Culture Mr. Ilsiyar KANAGATOV said that he was very pleased with the work of the KJF to meet the IJF requirements and over the next few days the KJF would demonstrate that they are ready for the efficient and successful staging of such an important event.

Chairman of the Committee of Sport of the Ministry of Sport and Culture Mr. Ilsiyar KANAGATOV

From an international perspective, one of the most talked about judoka competing is Brazil’s double Olympic bronze medallist Leandro GUILHEIRO (BRA) who makes his return to action on Saturday after two years on the sidelines.  

The 31-year-old said: “In March 2013 I hurt my knee during a training camp and after a few surgeries, I am finally back to judo. This time out was very challenging and I had to overcome lots of ups and downs. On the other hand, it was a good time to rest my mind, to study and realize how I miss fighting judo. It is really part of my soul.

“It's been more than two years since my last competition and I am only doing strong randori since a couple of weeks, but I feel it's time to test myself, no matter the results I get. I've been working very hard with my team to try to present a much better judo than I used fight. So I hope I can achieve that goal as soon as possible!”




Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Amelie ROSSENEU (ISR) is the top seed in the lightweight category which will get the competition underway on Friday. Miami Grand Prix silver medallist Nathalia BRIGIDA (BRA) has received the nod for Brazil along with fellow 21-year-old Gabriela CHIBANA (BRA) who has been a regular medallist at Continental Open events this year. Commonwealth Games silver medallist Shushila Devi LIKMABAM (IND) is part of a talented nine-strong Indian team. 


Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Gili COHEN (ISR) is the leading judoka in the -52kg category which also houses 37-year-old Ilse HEYLEN (BEL) who is still a polished performer on the international circuit. Madrid European Open bronze medallist Laura GOMEZ (ESP) and Zagreb Grand Prix runner-up Joana RAMOS (POR) have the quality to emerge as medal contenders while 30-year-old Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Roni SCHWARTZ (ISR) will have the same ambition. 


Sabrina FILZMOSER (AUT) is more than a wily veteran at 34 years old. The Tyumen Grand Slam bronze medallist is the top seed in Astana and finished seventh at the World Championships in August. Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix bronze medallist Tina ZELTNER (AUT) will see herself as the future of the category at 21 years old which can also be said for Commonwealth Games winner Nekoda SMYTHE DAVIS (GBR) who is also 21. Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Jovana ROGIC (SRB) will compete alongside the returning Beijing Olympic champion Giulia QUINTAVALLE (ITA) who was last seen finishing fifth at London 2012. 


World silver medallist Yarden GERBI (ISR) rediscovered her form at the World Championships in Russia after a disappointing return from the first half of the year. GERBI, who won world gold in 2013, will be determined to put in another strong performance and to deny in-form judoka such as Gemma HOWELL (GBR) who won Glasgow European Open gold last Saturday. Edwige GWEND (ITA) finished fifth at the Worlds and there is still plenty more to come from her while Budapest Grand Prix silver medallist Martyna TRAJDOS (GER) and Miami Pan American Open winner Hannah MARTIN (USA) also see action. 


European silver medallist Laura VARGAS KOCH (GER) is the top seed in the -70kg category and will expect to follow that by winning her second Grand Prix of the year having clinched gold in Havana in the summer. Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Lior WILDIKAN (ISR), Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix bronze medallist Esther STAM (GEO) and Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist will all be among the medal favourites. 


Top seed Luise MALZAHN (GER) is the judoka to beat in the -78kg category which will be contested on Sunday. Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix silver medallist MALZAHN will face opposition from judoka such as Samsun Grand Prix bronze medallist Ivana MARANIC (CRO) and Commonwealth Games winner Natalie POWELL (GBR). Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Assunta GALEONE (ITA) and two-time Commonwealth champion Jina Devi CHONGTHAM (IND) will also take to the tatami in Astana. 


Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix bronze medallist Franziska KONITZ (GER) is the top seed in the heavyweight category which will be settled on Sunday. KONTIZ finished a career-best fifth-place at the World Championships and will be confident of topping the medal podium in Kazakhstan. Former European bronze medallists Gulsah KOCATURK (TUR) and Iryna KINDZERSKA (UKR) will be joined in action by former Madrid European Open winner Anaid MKHITARYAN (RUS) and Glasgow European Open bronze medallist Sarah ADLINGTON (GBR). 



Asian Games winner Yeldos SMETOV (KAZ) will be out to get his country off to a winning start as the crowd favourite will be a leading medal hope for the hosts. Former world silver medallist DASHDAVAA Amartuvshin (MGL), Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Sofiane MILOUS (FRA) and former Tokyo Grand Slam runner-up ISHIKAWA Hironori (JPN) all hope to outperform SMETOV in the men’s lightweight category. 


European bronze medallist Dzmitry SHERSHAN (BLR) is the top seed in the -66kg category but there is no overwhelming favourite in the 23-man field. The wide open category features Madrid European Open silver medallist Pawel ZAGRODNIK (POL), former world bronze medallist Elio VERDE (ITA) and Havana Grand Prix silver medallist Sugoi URIARTE (ESP). 


Big-throwing Baku Grand Slam winner Sagi MUKI (ISR) is the favourite in Astana after a breakout year on the IJF World Judo Tour which has seen him produce some of the most memorable ippons. Olympic champion at -66kg Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) is due a medal as he still looks to really assert himself in the -73kg category. Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Andrea REGIS (ITA) will hope to factor in the medal shake-up while Mongolia call on former Olympic bronze medallists SAINJARGAL Nyam-Ochir (MGL) and KHASHBAATAR Tsagaanbaatar (MGL). 


Baku Grand Slam winner Alan KHUBETSOV (RUS) will be in the sights of the star-laden field as the top seed in the -81kg category. Double Olympic bronze medallist and former world silver medallist Leandro GUILHEIRO (BRA) makes his return after a lengthy absence and will looking to get right to work and announce himself as a Rio 2016 hopeful. Former Junior European silver medallist Max STEWART (GBR), the son of 1988 Olympic bronze medallist Dennis STEWART, will relish the Grand Prix stage on Saturday. 


African Championships winner Hatem ABD EL AKHER (EGY) is the top seed in the -90kg category and will have to show his worth if he is to back up that billing by coming through and winning in Astana. Samsun Grand Prix silver medallist Marc ODENTHAL (GER) and Tbilisi Grand Prix runner-up Walter FACENTE (ITA) are both making inroads on the World Judo Tour and can expect to be challenged by judoka such as Sindelfingen European Cup winner Alexandre IDDIR (FRA) and former Glasgow European Open gold medallist Alon SASSON (ISR). 


Former world champion Maxim RAKOV (KAZ) is the leading judoka in the -100kg category which he could command on Sunday. RAKOV will face opposition from judoka such as Madrid European Open bronze medallist Artem BLOSHENKO (UKR), Tyumen Grand Slam bronze medallist Martin PACEK (SWE) and London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Dimitri PETERS (GER). 


European silver medallist Adam OKRUASHVILI (GEO) has the top seed as the leading contender in the men’s heavyweight category. OKRUASHVILI will be reeling from missing out on a medal at the World Championships once again and will demand from himself nothing less than a dominant display on Sunday. Tallinn European Open winner Or SASSON (ISR) and former Paris Grand Slam silver medallist BATTULGA Temuulen (MGL) will compete along with former world bronze medallist Islam EL SHEHABY (EGY), Havana Grand Prix bronze medallist Barna BOR (HUN) and 2013 Tashkent Grand Prix runner-up Boltoboy BALTAEV (UZB). 

10:00 Preliminaries on three mats
16:00 Opening ceremony
17:00 Final block on one mat

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

10:00 Preliminaries on three mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

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

10:00 Preliminaries on three mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

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

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