Saturday, June 13, 2015

Budapest Grand Prix 2015 - PREVIEW

(Via IJF)

The Budapest Grand Prix is all set to captivate Hungary as the capital city hosts a star-studded field including Olympic champions from Saturday 13 – Sunday 14 June.

Budapest, which is also the location of the IJF Presidential Office, will host the 2017 World Championships and the event is every bit as important for the athletes as it is for the organisers.  


The Official Draw of the second Budapest Grand Prix 

Olympic champions Idalys Ortiz (CUB), Arsen Galstyan (RUS), Tagir Khaibulaev (RUS) and Kayla Harrison (USA) will all be in action as the momentum picks up towards August’s World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan and the looming Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The official draw took place at the venue on Thursday afternoon as representatives of all 67 delegations and 411 judoka assembled to find out who their charges will be pitted against in Hungary.


IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER (centre) made the opening address alongside Mr. Vladimir BARTA, IJF Head Sport Director (left) and Mr. Juan CARLOS BARCOS, IJF Head Referee Director (right)

Mr Marius VIZER, IJF President, said: “Dear colleagues, dear guests, welcome to the Budapest Grand Prix, a city which is home to the IJF Presidential Office. I hope to speak to a lot of you this weekend and I wish you a successful event.

“It is important to state that judo has experienced great development and while we are proud of our place as an Olympic sport – and Olympic qualification points will be on offer this weekend – we are a strong sport and all of our events are prestigious in their own right. I wish you all a pleasant and successful stay I Hungary.”


The Hungarian Judo Association executive officials led by its President Dr. TOTH Laszlo (centre)

Dr. TOTH Laszlo, Hungarian Judo Association President, said: “Dear Mr. President, dear Executive Committee members, dear guests, we are very proud to welcome the world of judo to Hungary this weekend. I think our Grand Prix will be very important as we move closer to the Olympic Games and of course we are looking forward to hosting you all at the 2017 World Championships. I hope you enjoy your stay in Hungary and look forward to meeting you all this weekend.”

Click here to view the ongoing Olympic qualification list 


FOLLOW THE COMPETITION
IJF President on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mariusvizer
Official event hash tag:
#JudoBudapest2015Judobase: http://www.judobase.org Instagram: http://instagram.com/judogallery
YouTube:
 http://www.youtube.com/judo 


WOMEN

-48kg

Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Paula PARETO (ARG) is the leading lightweight in action in the -48kg category. The 29-year-old top seed, who finished fifth in London, has been in the form of her career on the IJF World Judo Tour over the last year after capturing a world silver medal and the same colour medal at the Pan American Championships and World Masters. Much will be expected from Olympic bronze medallist CSERNOVICZKI Eva (HUN) in her homeland while African ace Taciana LIMA-BALDE (GBS) should be prominent. 

Taciana LIMA-BALDE (GBS), who has been financially supported by the IJF to compete this weekend, said: “My preparation has been very good, I changed my club recently and feel very good in this moment.” 

-52kg

Former world bronze medallist Mareen KRAEH (GER) will see her top seed status as the ideal opportunity to return to form at the top level. KRAEH, 31, has fallen short of winning a medal at her last four IJF events and will have to show more if she is to surpass judoka such as 2014 European bronze medallist Gili COHEN (ISR) and the fit-again Astana Grand Prix winner Joana RAMOS (POR).

Joana RAMOS (POR), who returned to action at the World Judo Masters in May after a three-month injury lay-off due to a groin strain, said: “I am excited by my return because I couldn't fight for nearly three months and now I am eager to fight and do a lot of competitions.

-57kg

Pan American champion Marti MALLOY (USA) has her second IJF medal of the year in her sights this weekend. MALLOY took silver at the Zagreb Grand Prix in May and will be up for the challenge posed by rivals such as former world bronze medallist Miryam ROPER (GER) who is the second seed after America’s Olympic bronze medallist. Home fighter and Dusseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist KARAKAS Hedvig (HUN) is next in line as the third seed and could go all the way.

Marti MALLOY (USA) said: “My preparation has been nonstop and has been building off of all the things I have been learning about my judo at recent competitions. You can expect me to be very focused and give it everything I have.”

-63kg

World bronze medallist Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO) is the fighter to watch in the -63kg category having won five of her last six IJF events. TRSTENJAK is the overwhelming favourite with World Masters bronze medallist Martyna TRAJDOS (GER) arguably best placed to challenge the supreme Slovenian while Pan American bronze medallist Leilani AKIYAMA (USA) will be one of a host of judoka outside the top 10 with a great opportunity to secure a place on the medal podium on Saturday evening.

Leilani Akiyama (USA), who is based out of the USA Olympic Training Centre in Colorado Springs, said: “I feel pretty good and have had chance to rest since the Zagreb Grand Prix and come back fresh for Budapest. I'm just going to go in and fight the best that I can that day.”

-70kg

Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medallist Laura VARGAS KOCH (GER) knows now is the time to build some momentum towards August’s World Championships. Top seed VARGAS KOCH finished fifth at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix in February and suffered a first round exit at the World Masters in May. ARAI Chizuru (JPN) is part of a seven-strong Japanese team and arrives in Hungary on the back of a Masters bronze medal and gold in Dusseldorf. Youth Olympic Games winner GERCSAK Szabina (HUN) is looking more composed with every senior appearance and could be a factor this weekend. 

GERCSAK Szabina (HUN), 18, said: “I really want to take a medal because last year I lost my first match and I felt very sad. This time will be harder but I have trained harder and will be really happy if I can fight in final block.”

-78kg

Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON (USA) is without doubt the most consistent fighter in the category. HARRISON last failed to win a medal at an IJF event in 2012 and has been every-present since then on the medal podium including a gold medal at the World Masters in May. World bronze medallist Anamari VELENSEK (SLO) and World Masters bronze medallist Luise MALZAHN (GER) as well as Natalie POWELL (GBR), who took a career-best silver at the Masters, could all shine on day two.

Kayla HARRISON (USA) said: “I'm feeling good. I hope to continue to show dominance in the division and gain valuable Olympic points with the ultimate goal always being Rio 2016.”

+78kg

Olympic and world champion Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) should be a clear favourite to rule the heavyweight women’s category on Sunday but the Cuban fighter tends to underperform on the World Judo Tour with a specific focus on the Olympic Games. World Judo Masters bronze medallist Franziska KONITZ (GER) and African champion Nihel CHEIKH ROUHOU (TUN) along with Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Jasmin KUELBS (GER) complete the line-up up of top four seeds.

Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) said: “This is an important event for me and I’m looking forward to it. The team has been in Europe recently where we’ve trained at the national centre in France.”


MEN

-60kg

World Judo Masters bronze medallist Sharafuddin LUTFILLAEV (UZB) is the top seed in the lightest men’s category. The 24-year-old has five medals from five events in 2015 including an Asian Championships bronze medal as he’s surged up the rankings. Astana Grand Prix winner Yeldos SMETOV (KAZ) and Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Tobias ENGLMAIER (GER) are the second and third seeds respectively with Dusseldorf Grand Prix winner SHISHIME Toru (JPN) seeded fourth.

Tobias ENGLMAIER (GER) said: “I'm feeling good at the moment. The seventh place at the Masters wasn't too bad but it was not what I wished for. For the Grand Prix I hope I can fight for the medals again and get some more points for the qualification.”

-66kg

Former world champion in the lower category of -60kg, Rishod SOBIROV (UZB), is hitting form at the right time in the -66kg category and enters the opening day as the top seed. SOBIROV won the Samsun Grand Prix in March and took fifth-place at the World Masters in May as he finally establishes some rhythm in the heavier category. French star David LAROSE (FRA) has struggled for form in recent times and sees this weekend as the time to make his mark on the World Judo Tour in 2015.

David LAROSE (FRA) said: “I am very motivated for this competition. I hope to win a gold medal, it would allow me to be directly selected for the world championships. For now on, all competitions are important for the Olympic Games. I'm fit and I'll show everyone that I am back to my best level.”

-73kg

Former European champion Rok DRAKSIC (SLO) has been in action on the World Judo Tour on four occasions this year but is yet to step onto the medal podium. The Slovenian standout is focused on getting back on track on Saturday and will have to see off judoka such as the returning Dirk VAN TICHELT (BEL) and Olympic silver medallist in the weight below UNGVARI Miklos (HUN).

Dirk VAN TICHELT (BEL) said: “Every event where I can take points is important for me. The sooner I get quite enough points, I can prepare better for the Olympics. In the beginning of the year I was injured. But now I'm back on track. The training is going good and I hope I can perform on the Grand Prix in Budapest.”

-81kg

Dusseldorf Grand Prix medallist Sven MARESCH (GER) knows a major medal is within his grasp and – as the top seed – is determined to live up to his billing in Budapest. Hungarian hope KRIZSAN Szabolcs (HUN) won the Zagreb Grand Prix in May and can establish himself as a serious figure in the category with another medal this weekend.

Sven MARESCH (GER) said: “I turned back from the Masters and during the flight I thought about the last three tournaments where I haven't won a medal. I checked all parts of my judo and how and what I can do better - the time goes on. But I am looking forward to this weekend and want to change some tiny things to get a better performance.”

-90kg

Former world champion Asley GONZALEZ (CUB) is increasing his activity this year as he seeks not only a top ranking for the World Championships but also the Olympic Games in 2016. Cuba’s Olympic silver medallist took bronze at the World Judo Masters in May and is expected to lead from the front on Sunday. Asian Championships bronze medallist Sherali JURAEV (UZB) has the quality to be a factor on day two while 22-year-old Casablanca Open winner Celio DIAS (POR) is poised to become a recurrent feature on the top stage.

Celio DIAS (POR) said: “I'm feeling really happy. At the beginning of May I had a little problem on my back and because of that I was not able to compete at Zagreb and Baku competitions. Therefore, I'm very excited to be back at a big competition on the World Judo Tour.”
  

-100kg

Olympic bronze medallist Dimitri PETERS (GER), who won the Zagreb Grand Prix in May, will undoubtedly be involved in determining the fate of the -100kg category on Sunday. The German star can expect competition from athletes such as Baku Grand Slam winner Adlan BISULTANOV (RUS) and world silver medallist Jose ARMENTEROS (CUB) who is still only 22.

Jose ARMENTEROS (CUB) said: “I am really looking forward to this weekend and another opportunity to prove myself at the highest level. I am full of confidence and have trained very well in Europe in recent weeks.”

+100kg

African champion Faicel JABALLAH (TUN) is a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight field and will take some stopping on Sunday. The former world bronze medallist can except to be engaged in action by Dusseldorf Grand Prix silver medallist OJITANI Takeshi (JPN) – who turned 23 on Tuesday – and home crowd favourite BOR Barna (HUN) who took silver at the World Masters.

Faicel JABALLAH (TUN) said: “I hope that everything goes well, I have confidence in myself and my training and I can’t wait to be out there on the mat.”

COMPETITION PROGRAMME

Saturday

10:00 Preliminaries on four mats
16:30 Opening ceremony 
17:00 Final block on two mats

Women: 48kg, -52kg, -57kg, -63kg 
Men: 60kg, -66kg, -73kg 

Sunday

10:00 Preliminaries on four mats
17:00 Final block on two mats

Women: -70kg, -78kg, +78kg
Men: -81kg, -90kg, -100kg, +100kg

Location: Papp László Sportaréna

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