Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix 2015 - PREVIEW

(via IJF)

The Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix 2015, the final Grand Prix before August’s World Championships, will be rich on quality and intrigue as a host of Olympic champions and rising names will be thrust into action from Friday 3 – Sunday 5 July at the Buyant Ukhaa Sport Complex.

The sixth Grand Prix of the year - following stops in Dusseldorf (GER), Tbilisi (GEO), Samsun (TUR), Zagreb (CRO), and Budapest (HUN) – comes at an intense time on the World Judo Tour with continental showpieces such as the first European Games in Baku and the Pan American Games in Toronto taking place either side of Mongolia’s top competition.

While the World Judo Tour makes a final stop in Russia for the Tyumen Grand Slam in two weeks’ time – as the last event before Kazakhstan hosts the Worlds in Astana – Ulaanbaatar and Mongolia has a special allure and summons the inner fighting spirit of all judoka who visit one of the sport’s powerhouse nations and greatest success stories.

KHASHBAATAR answered questions from judo fans on Thursday on Twitter

The home team can call on the likes of 2004 Olympic bronze medallist and former world champion KHASHBAATAR Tsagaanbaatar who cleared his demanding schedule on Thursday to speak to his legions of fans around the world in a special question and answer session on the IJF Twitter page.

KHASHBAATAR said: “I would like to thank the IJF for this opportunity. I have had a lot of pleasure from talking to judoka and fans all over the world and sharing our passion for judo.

“I have never done anything like this before so it is an honour for me and I am grateful for receiving questions from the judo family who are all very special to me. I encourage everyone to watch the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix this weekend and continue to support judo all over the world.”

The Mongolian hero will be in action alongside Russia’s triple threat of London 2012 Olympic champions - Arsen GALSTYAN, Mansur ISAEV and Tagir KHAIBULAEV - who will do everything in their powers to ensure they are in Rio to defend their crowns.

Japan’s Olympic champion MATSUMOTO Kaori (JPN) leads a 12-strong team in action with a wealth of class in all 14 weight categories.

The official draw took place at the venue on Thursday afternoon as representatives of all 35 delegations assembled to find out who the 202 entrants will be matched against in Ulaanbaatar.

Mr. Mohamed MERIJDA, IJF Education and Coaching Director, (below - centre) made the opening address.

“Dear President, dear athletes, dear all members of the judo family, on the behalf of the International Judo Federation and our President Mr. VIZER, I would like to wish you all a warm welcome to Ulaanbaatar,” said. Mr. MERIJDA.

“I congratulate the Mongolian Judo Association for all of their success and thank them for once again hosting the judo family for this Grand Prix. I wish good luck to all judoka in Mongolia.”

Mr. DAMBII Dorligjav, Mongolian Olympic Committee First Deputy President, (below - centre) said: “Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the organising committee, I welcome you all to Mongolia. We have 35 nations competing and participants in all areas from around the world. I wish you all a lot of success and good luck to your judoka.”

The Mongolian delegates at the draw

KHASHBAATAR was also in demand at Thursday's press conference following the official draw as the domestic media took full advantage of their opportunity to quiz one of their most celebrated sportsmen. 

KHASHBAATAR said: "I'm always excited for the draw but today it was extra special to be invited and to be here in attendance. The build-up has been great for me, I have been training well and I have enjoyed being involved in the IJF activities here this week. 

"I am hoping to face Olympic champion Mansur ISAEV (RUS) in the quarter-final, he is a great judoka and I will need to be at my best if this match comes up for me. I thank all the media for coming along today and look forward to seeing you all at the Grand Prix."

Click here to view the ongoing Olympic qualification list 

IJF President on Twitter:
Official event hash tag:
#judomgl2015Judobase: Instagram:



Asian Championships bronze medallist KIM Sol Mi (PRK) is the top seed in the -48kg category and therefore will be spared from an immediate clash against her top rivals. KIM, who finished fifth at the 2013 World Championships, is seeded alongside Minsk European Open winner Alexandra PODRYADOVA (KAZ), three-time European bronze medallist Laetitia PAYET (FRA) and Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Aurore CLIMENCE (FRA).

Laetitia PAYET (FRA) said: “I feel good, I am feeling stronger from every competition and I hope that on Friday I will be at the top of my form.”


Tbilisi Grand Prix winner Jaana SUNDBERG (FIN) is poised to make her strongest medal tilt in Mongolia since winning gold in Georgia back in March. SUNDBERG was out of the medal running at the European Games and the World Judo Masters recently and will have Asian Championships runner-up MUNKHBAATAR Bundmaa (MGL) and Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Priscilla GNETO (FRA) on her radar on the opening day.

Priscilla GNETO (FRA) said: “I feel very good now, I have finished my University exams and I really feel 100% focused on my judo. I am excited to fight in Mongolia.”


Two-time World Judo Masters winner DORJSUREN Sumiya (MGL) won the first edition of her home Grand Prix in 2013. World number three DORJSUREN is one of her country’s leading medal hopes while Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Sabrina FILZMOSER (AUT) and Olympic champion MATSUMOTO Kaori (JPN) – who lost her first round contest to FILZMOSER at the World Judo Masters – and five-time Grand Prix bronze medallist Jovana ROGIC (SRB) will all be out to stop DORJSUREN. 

Jovana ROGIC (SRB) said: “I’m really thankful to IJF because they have supported our team for this tournament and I thank IJF President Marius Vizer. This is first time for me to come to Mongolia so I’m excited and curious about everything from the culture to the crowd in the competition. It will be my pleasure to compete at this Grand Prix and I will give my best to show you good judo.” 


Austria, Sweden and the USA have all entered two judoka as their charges remain locked in a battle to qualify and be selected for their respective countries at Rio 2016. Top seed Kathrin UNTERWURZACHER (AUT) and Hilde DREXLER (AUT) join USA pair Hannah MARTIN (USA) and Leilani AKIYAMA (USA) along with Swedish duo Mia HERMANSSON (SWE) and Anna BERNHOLM (SWE).

Hannah MARTIN (USA) said: “Training has been going extremely well. I feel very strong and feel like I'm improving every day. I’ve come from the San Salvador Open and after Mongolia I will be home for 12 hours before going to the Pan American Games so it’s a really busy and important time of the year.”


European Games bronze medallist Bernadette GRAF (AUT) left her mark on Baku as she strung together a fine day of performances which led to the finest result of her ever-prosperous career. The 23-year-old will be undaunted by any potential opponent in Ulaanbaatar with African Championships silver medallist Assmaa NIANG (MAR), World Judo Masters bronze medallist Fanny Estelle POSVITE (FRA) and Qingdao Grand Prix winner Iljana MARZOK (GER) among the leading medal hopes.

Iljana MARZOK (GER) said: “After starting the year with a shoulder injury I wasn't able to medal in the previous events. Since then I made good progress so I'm looking forward to stepping on the mat here in Ulaanbaatar. Everyone in Mongolia is very hospitable and I think it is unique as their judo is influenced with their traditional wrestling background.”


African Championships silver medallist Sarah Myriam MAZOUZ (GAB) is currently on course to represent her country at Rio 2016 and will be the top seed at an IJF event for the first time in her career in Ulaanbaatar. MAZOUZ took silver last weekend at the San Salvador Open and is edging closer to the foremost names in the category such as Olympic silver medallist Gemma GIBBONS (GBR) who will seek a much-needed return to medal-winning ways on Sunday.

Sarah Myriam MAZOUZ (GAB) said: “I saw yesterday, with surprise, that I am the top seed so I am very happy as it could give me a good start on Sunday. I feel happy with my recent form and I hope to do well in Mongolia.”


Dusseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist Carolin WEISS (GER) and Junior world bronze medallist Marine ERB (FRA) have the task of upsetting the anticipated dominance of the home continent as the only non-Asian judoka in the heavyweight field. Number one seed MA Sisi (CHN) is the reigning Asian Games champion while former World Judo Masters bronze medallist Gulzhan ISSANOVA (KAZ) and 2014 Tyumen Grand Slam runner-up LEE Jung Eun (KOR) all possess considerable intensity.

Carolin WEISS (GER) said: “I'm very excited to come to Mongolia and it is an important tournament for me. I'd like to take this chance to fight again on an international level and I'll hope that I can show my whole potential during the tournament.”



Stuttering world champion GANBAT Boldbaatar (MGL) will hope home surroundings can inspire him to rediscover the form which saw him win his first world title in Chelyabinsk last August. GANBAT won his first IJF medal of the year at the World Judo Masters in May, an important bronze medal, and has topped the podium in the two previous editions of his home Grand Prix. Former European champion Sofiane MILOUS (FRA) could well be the leading threat for GANBAT and his three colleagues in the lightest men’s weight category.

Sofiane MILOUS (FRA) said: “Everything has been fine for me recently, I have been training well and I’m ready to perform on the first day."


The host nation also enjoys top seed status in the -66kg category as World Judo Masters bronze medallist DAVAADORJ Tumurkhuleg (MGL) could complete his hat-trick of Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix medals this year. DAVAADORJ won bronze in 2013, silver in 2014 and is tipped to improve once again and finally claim top spot on the opening day. Japan’s 17-year-old Tokyo Grand Slam winner ABE Hifumi (JPN) and Olympic champion Arsen GALSTYAN (RUS) will be out to upset Mongolia’s home favourite.

Arsen GALSTYAN (RUS) said: “I am now feeling comfortable at this weight and things are improving for me. I have confidence and excitement at being here in Mongolia. I will do my best to get the result I want and need as we approach Rio 2016.”


World silver medallist HONG Kuk Hyon (PRK) is the top seed in the -73kg category which has a liberal sprinkling of know-how as Olympic champion Mansur ISAEV (RUS) and Mongolia’s Olympic bronze medallists KHASHBAATAR Tsagaanbaatar (MGL) and SAINJARGAL Nyam-Ochir (MGL) will no doubt be the centre of attention. Emmanuel NARTEY (GHA) is one judoka hoping to break through the roll call of Olympic and world medallists on Saturday.

Emmanuel NARTEY (GHA) said: “Training has been going well, I have had to make a few changes with my fighting style and push my attacking rate up. So far everything is successful and I will be trying this new philosophy in Mongolia.”


Olympic bronze medallist Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN) has made the trip from Montreal to Asia to face top quality opposition as he nears another attempt at world gold in August. Serbian teenager Nemanja MAJDOV (SRB) – who won the 2014 Junior European Championships – will continue his progression to the senior stage while Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist MARUYAMA Goki (JPN) is making inroads abroad this year and could torment judoka this weekend as he bids to become a permanent fixture in the Japanese team.

Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN) said: “My training has been going well and this trip, which will also include the Tyumen Grand Slam, is very important for my Worlds preparation. They will allow me to test my shape and to identify some things that need to be changed. These events are also great training opportunities since some of the best judoka in the world are from these countries.”


Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Joakim DVARBY (SWE) is the number one seed in the -90kg category. The Swedish fighter has teammate and former European champion Marcus NYMAN (SWE) to look out for along with judoka such as Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Ciril GROSSKLAUS (SUI) and Zagreb Grand Prix silver medallist Aaron HILDEBRAND (GER).

Ciril GROSSKLAUS (SUI) said: “I'm feeling good and now that I have arrived I am hungry to fight and give a good account of myself in Mongolia.”


Sweden also has top billing the -100kg category as Martin PACEK (SWE) will compete on the last day which could be very rewarding for his team. Former Asian champion Javad MAHJOUB (IRI) will be a name to watch but the knowledgeable home crowd will spend more time tracking the success of Olympic champion Tagir KHAIBULAEV (RUS) who took the title last year after memorably winning all his contests by ippon.

Tagir KHAIBULAEV (RUS) said: “I enjoy being in Mongolia, it is a special place in judo and I am ready to fight. I feel good and have my teammates with me and I think we push each other to bring out the best in one another.”  


Asian Championships silver medallist KRAKOVETSKII Iurii (KGZ) is still only 22 years old but has positioned himself as one of his continent’s premier heavyweights. The continued development of KRAKOVETSKII will not be lost on Junior world champion ULZIIBAYAR Duurenbayar (MGL) who is still finding his way as a senior fighter and a home Grand Prix could be just the tonic for his barren run at IJF events this year.

ULZIIBAYAR Duurenbayar (MGL) said: “I have been waiting for this event for a long time. I am still adjusting to fighting as a senior and I have been able to get a lot of experience this year."



12:30 Preliminaries on three mats
16:00 Opening ceremony 
17:00 Final block on one mat

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


12:30 Preliminaries on three mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

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


12:30 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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