Thursday, March 19, 2015

Judo Grand Prix, Tbilisi 2015 - PREVIEW

(Via IJF)

The IJF World Judo Tour has arrived in Georgia for the second IJF competition of the year as the capital city hosts the Judo Grand Prix, Tbilisi 2015, at the Sports Palace from Friday 20 – Sunday 22 March.

The 2015 season was launched in Germany last month as over 500 judoka took to the tatami at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix. Tbilisi’s second edition of this event will be followed by the Samsun Grand Prix next week as the tour builds momentum and judoka edge ever closer to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Hosts Georgia will field a 29-strong team including world champion Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO) as the powerhouse judo nation looks forward to seeing their idols and world’s finest athletes compete on Georgian soil.

The official draw and press conference took place at the Holiday Inn opposite the venue on Thursday in front of a huge congregation of national and international media. 

The official draw of the Judo Grand Prix, Tbilisi 2015

National television outlets and photographers from across the continent closely monitored events as the delegations discovered the fate of their athletes in the draw. 

Mr. Vladimir BARTA, IJF Head Sports Director, presided over the draw which featured 345 judoka from 42 nations.

IJF Executive Commitee members Mr. Mohamed MERIJDA, Mr. Vladimir BARTA and Mr. Jan SNIJDERS

Mr. Mohamed MERIJDA, IJF Education and Coaching Director, said: “Dear Mr. President, dear IJF Executive Committee, distinguished guests, dear judo friends, on behalf of IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER, I would like to express my warmest welcome to all of our distinguished guests, officials, coaches and athletes.

“This is the second edition of the Tbilisi Grand Prix and I would like to thank the Georgian Judo Federation for their very kind hospitality. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Georgian Ministry of Sport for all the support they have provided for the development of judo in this country.

“The International Judo Federation is very satisfied with the remarkable development achieved by the Georgian Judo Federation as your athletes have achieved great results in major events. They have become great ambassadors for our sport and are inspiring more and more people to take up judo. I wish all the best to the organisers, officials, coaches and athletes.”

From L-R: Mr. Lomer ZHORZHOLIANI, Georgian Judo Federation Vice President, Mr. David KEVKHISHVILI, Georgian Judo Federation President, Mr. Irakli DOLABERIDZE, Head of Youth Department - Ministry of Sport

Mr. David KEVKHISHVILI, Georgian Judo Federation President, said: “Dear all, it is our privilege and honour to be hosting this event for the second year. It is a great responsibility for us and I wish to thank the IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER for his constant support. We’re hoping for a great event, our staff are working around the clock to make sure everything is successful and I wish you all a successful event.”

Mr. Vladimir BARTA, IJF Head Sports Director, said: “It is our pleasure to be back in Georgia for the second edition of this event. Judo is very important to everyone in this country and the national team are hugely successful on the IJF World Judo Tour. It is great to see you all here in Tbilisi and I wish everyone a successful competition.”

Mr. Jan SNIJDERS, IJF Head Referee Director, said: “The points that I would like to mention relate to your athletes competing in the centre of the tatami and kumi-kata. We urge athletes to compete in the centre of the mat to avoid the requirement for a penalty and encourage you to be positive and to take a grip. I hope to see good judo and wish you all a lot of success.”

World bronze medallist Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) took part in the press conference and spoke of his great desire to put on a good performance in front of his home crowd.

LIPARTELIANI said: “We’re all very pleased to have an IJF event in this country and world’s top fighters. Judo is a very special sport and there is a great passion for it in Georgia. I wish good luck to all of our team but also to all fighters who have made the journey to compete in our country. I am ready to compete and so are all of my teammates.”

-90kg world number one Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) 


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Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist Eva CSERNOVICZKI (HUN) is the top seed in Tbilisi as the world number five will expect to improve on that ranking with a medal-winning display in Georgia. World number six Taciana LIMA-BALDE (GBS), who took bronze in Abu Dhabi, could trade places with her Hungarian rival if she can produce a better result on the opening day while Qingdao Grand Prix bronze medallist KIM Sol Mi (PRK) will also expect to be in medal contention.

Taciana LIMA-BALDE (GBS) said: “I am feeling good for the Tbilisi Grand Prix, my second competition of the year. I feel better after taking part in the training camp in Dusseldorf and this is my first time fighting here so I hope for a positive experience.”


Dusseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist Mareen KRAEH (GER) will be the fighter to beat in the -52kg category as her world number five billing secures top seed status. Jeju Grand Prix bronze medallist Gili COHEN (ISR) is right behind KRAEH on the World Ranking List as the number six while the evergreen Annabelle EURANIE (FRA) has forced her way into the top 10 in the world and will be tipped to bolster her ninth place billing. World number 13 Jaana SUNDBERG (FIN) is aiming to break the top 10 after a frustrating second half of the year in 2014.

Jaana SUNDBERG (FIN) said: “Last year I had some bad luck with a couple of injuries and went through a shoulder operation just before World Championships. I'm now coming back step-by-step and aiming to do judo at same spirit and level that I did before the injuries.”


Former world bronze medallist and world number four Miryam ROPER (GER) is back in action after missing her home Grand Prix in Dusseldorf due to illness. Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist and world number five Sabrina FILZMOSER (AUT), who is fresh from her latest development project work in Bhutan, will compete alongside Olympic bronze medallist and world number six MALLOY (USA).

Miryam ROPER (GER) said: “I am looking forward to fighting as always. Judo and fighting is my passion and that’s what I’m here to do in Tbilisi.”


World number one Yarden GERBI (ISR) leads a star-laden category into action which includes five members of the world top 10. Tokyo Grand Slam winner Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO) is currently third while fifth-placed Kathrin UNTERWURZACHER (AUT), sixth-placed Edwige GWEND (ITA) and ninth-placed Martyna TRAJDOS (GER) are all present in Tbilisi.

Yarden GERBI (ISR) said: “After a long preparation of three months and five training camps I feel good and very excited to go back to fighting. I hope I will be good and start my year in a good way. It will be a hard competition but I believe in myself.”


Oberwart European Open winner Bernadette GRAF (AUT) currently stands at a career-best fifth-place on the World Ranking List and the Austrian 22-year-old is looking stronger in every competition. World number seven Sally CONWAY (GBR) is overdue a place on an IJF medal podium and that will also be the goal of world number 12 Gevrise EMANE (FRA).

Gevrise EMANE (FRA) said: “For my first international competition of 2015, I hope I will succeed in the same way as the end of 2014 (Tokyo Grand Slam gold). I worked hard for it and I’m still working for the future events. Nothing is easy in this world, I just try to be myself enjoying every day, every moment of my life and giving the best of myself.” 


World number two Audrey TCHEUMEO (FRA) could capture top spot at the helm of the -78kg category this weekend with world champion and pacesetter Mayra AGUIAR (BRA) not in action in Georgia. Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON (USA) and 2013 world champion SOL Kyong (PRK) could also flourish in Tbilisi.

Kayla HARRISON (USA) said: “We are training through this event so I'm just using this as training. It's all in preparation for the World Championships and ultimately the Olympics of course. I take it one day at a time, one match at a time, one exchange at a time, one grip at a time. I’m going in to win and looking forward to a great competition. I've never been to Georgia so I am excited.”


World number three Franziska KONITZ (GER) took bronze at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix and will be confident of a second appearance on the medal podium in 2015 on Sunday. Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner and world number five YU Song (CHN) is China’s only competitor in Georgia while world bronze medallist Emilie ANDEOL (FRA) and Casablanca Africa Open winner Katarzyna FURMANEK (POL) will also target honours on the last day of the competition.

Katarzyna FURMANEK (POL) said: “I’m looking at my potential fights but really you never know what could happen. I feel good right now and once the event starts I will be doing everything I can to earn a medal.”



World bronze medallist and world number two Amiran PAPINASHVILI (GEO) will be the overwhelming favourite to come out as the number one judoka in the -60kg category in Friday. World number three DASHDAVAA Amartuvshin (MGL) will command attention from every judoka in the category along with world number eight Yeldos SMETOV (KAZ) who won a career-best Asian Games gold medal last year.

DASHDAVAA Amartuvshin (MGL) said: “I am very happy and excited to continue to show my skills on the world level. My main goal is the World Championships in Astana but I’m looking forward to this Grand Prix with my teammates.”


World number three DAVAADORJ Tumurkhuleg (MGL) took silver at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix a month ago and, as the top seed, could go one better in Tbilisi. World number five Georgii ZANTARAIA (UKR) is one of the most consistent judoka in the sport and will be focused on top spot while the highly-talented former world silver medallist Sugoi URIARTE (ESP) will have his own medal ambitions.

Sugoi URIARTE (ESP) said: “I’ve been training very hard for the last three months. I’m now hoping to get the final points of 50% for the Olympic classification and continue to prepare for the European Games.”


World number five SAINJARGAL Nyam-Ochir (MGL) is the top seed in the -73kg category which also houses 34-year-old London 2012 Olympic silver medallist UNGVARI Miklos (HUN). Georgia dominated this category last year and Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) and Nugzari TATALASHVILI (GEO) will lead their attack once again. Samsun Grand Prix bronze medallist Hasan VANLIOGLU (TUR) will also see action.

Hasan VANLIOGLU (TUR) said: “Right now I feel good. The randori at the Nymburk training camp has been good and we travelled directly from there to Tbilisi so we are all ready.”


World champion Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO) has no doubt had this date in his diary since winning his first world crown in Chelyabinsk last year. TCHRIKISHVILI, whose image appears on a giant billboard opposite Tbilisi Airport will join world number eight Sven MARESCH (GER), who won bronze in Dusseldorf, world number 11 Sirazhudin MAGOMEDOV (RUS) and former world silver medallist Srdjan MRVALJEVIC (MNE) on -81kg duty.

Srdjan MRVALJEVIC (MNE) said: “It is early in the season and my fitness is developing but I have good health and must start well. This will help me to be ready for Baku Grand Slam in May.” 


World bronze medallist and top seed Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) cut a composed figure at Thursday’s press conference. The Georgian superstar is one of his country’s leading gold medal hopes and will have to overcome a talent-rich field featuring 20-year-old world silver medallist Krisztian TOTH (HUN) and teenage star Beka GVINIASHVILI (GEO).

Krisztian TOTH (HUN) said: “I did a lot of fights at the training camp in Nymburk and at home for Tbilisi. This tournament is a good test for me, the level is very strong but I will give my best.”


World bronze medallist Karl-Richard FREY (GER) is the top seed in the -100kg category which will be contested on Sunday. Olympic bronze medallist Dimitri PETERS (GER) will be a force to be reckoned with while former world champion Elkhan MAMMADOV (AZE) and his countryman Elmar GASIMOV (AZE) will fly the flag for Azerbaijan as Jakub WOJCIK (POL) aims to earn his first IJF medal in Georgia.

Jakub WOJCIK (POL) said: “My preparations have gone well for this event. I was in Nymburk with my teammates and we feel well prepared.”


European silver medallist Adam OKRUASHVILI (GEO) is the leading man on paper in the heavyweight category as the top seed. Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Daniel NATEA (ROU), Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist Levani MATIASHVILI (GEO) and Astana Grand Prix bronze medallist Andre BREITBARTH (GER) are all among the leading heavyweights in the talented field.

Adam OKRUASHVILI (GEO) said: “I have prepared as I would for any other event. I will try my best in Tbilisi in front of my home fans.”

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