Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A-Z GUIDE TO THE PARIS GRAND SLAM 2016

(Via IJF)

The second IJF event of the new season takes place at the AccorHotels Arena from 6-7 February


The IJF has produced an A-Z guide of all of the highlights of the world-renowned Paris spectacular and of what can be expected in 2016. 

A – Atmosphere
The Paris Grand Slam produces one of the most electric atmospheres in world sport. The intimate setting carries the sounds representing all the emotions of the home supporters. The intense volume lifts the home team as the crowd erupts for every French score and their energy carries their athletes’ home.

The atmosphere sends shivers down the spine and no more so than when the entire arena unites in singing ‘La Marseillaise’ after every French gold medal. This year, the new-look venue has an even greater capacity and therefore the decibels will be raised to new levels in 2016.


B – Bercy
Formerly known as the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy until last year’s renovation and rebranding, the famous indoor sports arena is an iconic location for judo in France. The Bercy as it’s known and always will be known to judoka and fans, transforms into a theatre of judo. 

The Bercy was first opened on 3 February 1984 and has hosted the biggest acts in music and major sporting events apart from judo including basketball, athletics, tennis and volleyball. However, the Bercy is best-known as the home of France’s leg of the IJF World Judo Tour, now a state of the art venue in the heart of the French capital.

C – Crowd
The Bercy will be overflowing with judo lovers and it’s not just French fans who turn out in great numbers. The spectacle of the event attracts spectators from all over the world. A record crowd will be attending the first Grand Slam of the Olympic season in Paris and they can look forward to watching an all-star field of judoka.

London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Priscilla Gneto, a two-time Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist, will compete on day one in Paris along with her younger sister Astride. “The crowd will be very important for all of us,” said the 24-year-old. “We will fight hard, we feel the difference in a home event. For a lot of people it will be important to fight in front of family, coaches, our clubs, friends, and the French media. We are both excited.”

D – Décosse
French hero and three-time world champion Lucie Décosse became synonymous with the Paris Grand Slam during her illustrious career. London 2012 Olympic champion Décosse won the event - in its various incarnations (Tournoi de Paris, Super World Cup, Grand Slam) - eight times including five years in a row from 2006 - 2011. Now a coach for the French cadet’s team, Décosse, 34, was one of French judo’s 11 Olympic champions recognised at the event in 2015.


E – Energy
The Paris Grand Slam creates a buzz far beyond the sport and the host city of Paris. Athletes, coaches, fans, media and officials all relish the prospect of entering the Bercy to play their part in one of the greatest showcases in Olympic sport. Athletes savour the atmosphere, the level of competition and treat this stage as one of the key events before the Olympic Games.

The must-see event will be followed all over the world on TV and on the IJF’s own live streaming platform. Watch all the action live and free at www.ippon.tv

F – France
The French Judo Federation (FF Judo) is one of the world’s leading national federations with over 600,000 members, reigning Olympic and world champions, a thriving competition circuit and a great history in our sport.

The hosts have entered a 56-strong team (28 men, 28 women) with four judoka in each of the 14 weight categories. France have entered a full strength team including 2015 world champion Gevrise Emane.

Mr. Jean-Luc Rouge, French Judo Federation President, said: “We sincerely thank the delegations for their presence and their commitment in this new edition. In this rough global period, the sport generally and judo in particular, should be a unifying link around the core values which are dear to us. We wish you all an excellent Paris Grand Slam 2016.”

G – Guests
Paris attracts the best athletes in the world and a teeming crowd of judo fans. Among those in attendance are sports stars and high-profile celebrities all eager to see the most talked about event in town. International award-winning violinist Vanessa Mae was in attendance in 2015 and joined the IJF live streaming team to talk about the event. FIFA World Cup-winning captain Lothar Matthäus has been a regular guest while former tennis world number one Ilie Năstase is a frequent visitor.

Former professional tennis and ice hockey player Ion Tiriac will attend the Grand Slam this week along with British Judo Association President and 10th Dan George Kerr.

H – Hashtag: #JudoParis2016
The Paris Grand Slam will be one of the most talked about events in world sport this weekend. The IJF encourages all fans, judoka and media to discuss the event on social media platforms by using the hashtag #JudoParis2016.

The IJF is one of the most visible International Federation’s on social media and this event will be the most social yet with the event set to be trending on both days.

I – Ippons
The ippons will flow in Paris as the stars of the IJF World Judo Tour aim to take one giant step towards a medal bid at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The Paris Grand Slam 2015 featured an incredible 266 ippons with the -100kg category being the one to watch. Judo fans saw 28/35 contests in the -100kg category finish with the maximum score. The men’s heavyweight category came second with 17/26 contests being won by ippon.

This year there will be more athletes, more contests and more ippons!

J – Jean-Luc Rouge
French Judo Federation President Mr. Jean Luc-Rouge was France’s first world judo champion. The four-time European champion helped to shape the sport as a pioneering athlete and after retiring helped to steer the French Judo Federation into becoming one of the most prosperous and visible national judo federations in the world.

Mr. Rouge was elected as President of the French Judo Federation in 2005 and in 2011 was elected as the General Secretary of the IJF and has been integral to the success of both organisations. His insatiable passion for the sport and history-making exploits as a world-renowned judoka led the Frenchman to share the secrets to his famed harai-goshi in a highly-popular book. Mr. Luc-Rouge was inducted into the IJF Hall of Fame in 2013 on the occasion of the World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


K – Kano Jigoro
Judo founder Kano Jigoro once said that “if there is effort, there is always accomplishment.” There is no more effort in staging a judo competition than at the Paris Grand Slam. With French judo staff working all year round and hundreds of volunteers on location, the first Grand Slam of 2016 is truly a team effort. The Paris Grand Slam is where the purity of judo and 21st century entertainment meets and the values of judo (Courtesy, Courage, Honesty, Honour, Modesty, Respect, Self-Control and Friendship) will be on display.

“Walk a single path, becoming neither cocky with victory nor broken with defeat, without forgetting caution when all is quiet or becoming frightened when danger threatens,” said Kano.

L – Legends   
The legends of judo will all be out in force in Paris including a host of IJF Hall of Famers such as double Olympic silver medallist Neil Adams. IJF TV commentator Adams, who was inducted into the IJF Hall of Fame in 2013, has called the action at every edition of the Paris Grand Slam since it was given the title in 2009. Adams said: “Paris is the best judo event in the world for me. An educated audience if not more than a little partisan at times but very passionate and the best atmosphere to be in. Great to commentate and fight at.”

Fellow IJF Hall of Famers Yamashita Yashuhiro, now All Japan Judo Federation Vice President and IJF Development Director, and Uemura Haruki, now Kodokan Judo Institute President and IJF World Promotion Director, will both be in attendance. Inoue Kosei and Ezio Gamba, who now lead the Japanese and Russian teams respectively, will be presiding over their charges in Paris while Peter Seisenbacher will lead his Azerbaijan team into action.

Seisenbacher’s coach during his two Olympic victories, George Kerr, will be reunited with his greatest student in Paris with many more great judo luminaries set to grace the AccorHotels Arena.

M – Media
National and international media turn out in their hundreds at the Paris Grand Slam. The fortunes of the French team dominate the national news while media from every continent have been accredited for this year and the event will have an unprecedented global presence. A press room, media tribune, press conference facilities and mixed zone provide the members of the media with all the facilities they need to carry out their work and cover one of the biggest sporting events before the Olympics. Members of the media can click here to apply for media accreditation for the IJF World Judo Tour.

N – Ne-waza
The use of ne-waza has been a highlight at recent IJF World Judo Tour events and is on the rise in this latter stage of the Olympic cycle. As long as there is progression in their work then judoka can pursue their favoured ne-waza techniques to produce some of the most dramatic and dynamic ippons.

Former world champion Lukas Krpalek (CZE), Olympic bronze medallist Dimitri Peters (GER) and Havana Grand Prix silver medallist Travis Stevens (USA) as well as Jeju Grand Prix winner Sally Conway (GBR), Havana Grand Prix winner Marti Malloy (USA) and 2015 Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Sabrina Filzmoser (AUT) are among the most famous ne-waza experts set to be in action this weekend.   

O – Opportunity
An occasion with the intense spotlight of the Paris Grand Slam can turn an unknown athlete into an instant star. That will be the aim of every debutant as they look to overcome the the glare of the AccorHotels limelight and lay their claim to the IJF gold medal which many judoka want on their resume the most.

In 2015, Harasawa Hisayoshi (JPN) won the Paris Grand Slam at the first time of asking as heavyweight king Teddy Riner watched from the stands. Harasawa, 23, who won the Tyumen and Tokyo Grand Slams either side of his Paris triumph, has shown the potential to become Riner’s greatest challenger. They could go one-on-one for the first time at the World Judo Masters in May or indeed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games depending on Japan’s heavyweight selection. 

Shaxzod Sobirov (UZB) won his first IJF event in heroic fashion as the rank outsider won all five of his contests in Paris last year to claim gold in the -81kg category. However, the 22-year-old will not be fighting in the French capital this year as 2013 Paris Grand Slam winner Yakhyo Imamov gets the nod for Uzbekistan with Sobirov instead selected for the Dusseldorf Grand Prix.


P – Paris
The French capital is one of the world’s most visited cities with the abundant art, fashion, gastronomy and culture creating no end of must-see attractions. Paris is also home to the majority of the French judo team who train out of INSEP, the National Institute of Sport and Physical Education, a French teacher training institute and centre for excellence in sports.   

It’s not just Disneyland where the magic happens in Paris. Displays of aerial evasion, technical mastery and breathtaking power are par for the course at the Paris Grand Slam.

Q – Qualification
The battle for Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualification list will go down to the wire with intense competition among the leading nations while some developing nations look to secure places via the continental quota and wildcards. The top-ranked World Judo Masters event in Guadalajara, Mexico, from 27-29 May, will be the final event to offer points for Olympic qualification. Click here to view the ongoing Rio 2016 Olympic qualification list.

R – Rio 2016
Rio 2016 will be the first Olympic and Paralympic Games in South America and judo will be a focal point. Brazil has won more Olympic medals in judo than in any other sport and the powerhouse judo nation will be expected to deliver at the Carioca Arena 2 in Barra.

The Samba show starts with the draw for the judo competition on Thursday 4 August before the opening ceremony on Friday 5 August. Seven days of action on the tatami starts on Saturday 6 August with the women’s -48kg and men’s -60kg categories with two further categories every day until the heavyweights close the action on Friday 12 August. Visit Rio2016.com for the latest ticket and schedule information.

S – Stars
Four London 2012 Olympic champions will compete at the Paris Grand Slam this year. Sarah Menezes (BRA), Kayla Harrison (USA), Idalys Ortiz (CUB) and Lasha Shavdatuashvili (GEO) will all be tipped for glory in Paris.

Six reigning world champions will be in action over the two-day tournament. An Baul (KOR), Gwak Dong Han (KOR), Tina Trstenjak (SLO), Gevrise Emane (FRA), Umeki Mami (JPN) and Yu Song (CHN) will all be in the mix at the first Grand Slam in 2016.  

T – Teddy Riner
The one and only Teddy Riner, the eight-time world champion and reigning Olympic champion, has been ruled out of #JudoParis2016 with a shoulder injury. Riner, who is very much the conductor of the fervent French faithful at the Bercy, will now be expected to compete at the European Championships in April and World Judo Masters in May.  

In the absence of six-time Paris Grand Slam winner Riner, 26, there are a host of standout heavyweight candidates aiming to take the Paris title. Defending champion Harasawa Hisayoshi (JPN), 2015 runner-up David Moura (BRA) and the man only Riner could beat at the last two World Championships, Shichinohe Ryu (JPN), are the leading favourites.

Click here to vote on who you think will win the +100kg category on Sunday. 


U – Ukemi
The ippons will flow at the Bercy and breakfalling – which a judoka learns in their first lesson – will be plentiful. Judoka, of all levels, spreads their body to protect themselves by minimising the impact when landing on the tatami. When a judoka first walks into the venue they will go to the warm-up area and before stepping foot into this area of the arena they will already hear their peers hitting the tatami with force as teams look to hit the ground running on both mornings.  

V – Vizer
IJF President Mr. Marius Vizer has transformed the image of judo and the IJF since taking office in 2007. Through his visionary leadership, the IJF has developed a thriving World Judo Tour, established the sport’s place in the Olympic movement and introduced rule changes to make the sport more appealing to a wider audience. Click here to read a recent Twitter Q&A with the IJF President.


W – Winners    
All the judo greats have graced Paris and past winners include some of the most lauded names in the history of judo. The Paris Grand Slam is a stage for winners and the heroes and great champions of judo will all assemble in the city of light. Wang Ki-Chun (KOR) has won in Paris twice, Tachimoto Megumi (JPN) three times, Asami Haruna twice (JPN), Akimoto Hiroyuki (JPN) three times and this Asian quartet will be back in 2016.

Formerly known as a Super World Cup, Super A-Tournament and first as the Tournoi de Paris, the event dates back to 1971. The first heavyweight winner at the event was Dutch great and IJF Hall of Famer Willem Ruska who won the o93kg title in its first year. 

X – e(X)citement          
Whether it’s the first second or last second, everything can change in a heartbeat in judo. This leads to excitement for the duration of a contest and with a star-studded entry list including France’s superstars, a roaring capacity crowd and a special setting such as Paris the excitement will reach fever pitch on Saturday and Sunday.

Y – Youth
The Paris Grand Slam is not just a stage for champions or seasoned judoka. Young athletes can use the event as a springboard for their careers and for a rookie to give a noteworthy performance in Paris suggests a bright future in the sport. Hosts France have no problem in rolling out young talent and this year their team includes Junior world bronze medallists Astride Gneto, 19, and 20-year-old Sarah Harachi, who will compete at -52kg and -57kg respectively. Qingdao Grand Prix medallist and lightweight ace Walide Khyar, 20, will be among the youthful names to look out for in France’s ranks.

Z – Zarei – kneeling bow
The Paris date on the calendar is much more than a competition. Some international judoka make the journey to France to watch the event and stay on for the all-important training camp which is more crucial than ever in an Olympic year.

While judoka perform a standing bow (ritsurei) in competition, on the training tatami they will take part in ne-waza-randori. Before such a session, during the randori and at the end of training hundreds of judoka will perform a kneeling bow in unison. It is a special sight only judoka could produce as for that moment all judoka are equal and they are demonstrating judo values such as respect, friendship and honour which the sport has taught them from an early age.

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