Thursday, May 26, 2016

World Judo Masters 2016, Guadalajara, Mexico PREVIEW

(Via IJF)

The winding road to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be defined this weekend as the final qualification event, the invite-only World Judo Masters takes place in Guadalajara, Mexico from Friday 27 – Sunday 29 May.  

The annual World Judo Masters showpiece is reserved for the world’s elite judoka as the top 16 ranked judoka in each category are automatically invited to battle it out at the Lopez Mateo Sports Centre.

The first Masters competition in Pan America will showcase Olympic and world champions, athletes who have booked their ticket to Rio and a handful of judoka who are outside of the qualification zone and are desperate to take their final chance to realise their dream, their life’s work and qualify for the Olympic Games.

A World Judo Masters offers the most qualification points after the World Championships and the IJF World Judo Tour and its leading exponents will feel the warmth of Latin America before Rio as they hope to capture 700 points for gold, while a silver medal earns 420 points and a bronze medallist will scoop 280 points.

Guadalajara is dubbed 'The Pearl of the West' and Mexico’s second largest city is not only a thriving location for cultural tourism but this weekend will unearth future Rio 2016 Olympic champions. The city held events during the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, the football World Cup’s at World Cup Mexico 1968 and 1986 and the hosted the multi-sport Pan American Games in 2011.

The IJF delegation at the official draw in Guadalajara

The draw took place on Thursday afternoon as the nervy delegations assembled at the Fiesta Americana hotel as their charges remained anxious ready to learn their Olympic fate this weekend.

Mr. Mohamed MERIDJA, IJF Education and Coaching Director, made the opening address on behalf of the International Judo Federation.

“Dear Mr. President, dear colleagues, dear judo family members, on behalf of the IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER, I would like to thank the Mexican Judo Federation for the high level of organisation and hospitality here in Guadalajara. This event is very important as it is the last qualification event for Rio 2016. I hope you all show fair play and respect as is paramount in our sport. I wish you all a successful competition and a successful Olympic Games in Brazil.”

The host delegation at the official draw of the World Judo Masters 2016

Mr. Manuel LARRANGA, Pan American Judo Confederation and Mexico Judo Federation President, made the first address for the organising committee.

“Dear friends, on behalf of the Mexican Judo Federation, I welcome you to the World Judo Masters 2016 in Guadalajara. I would like to thank the IJF for giving us the great honour of hosting this competition and I would also like to thank the Governor of Jalisco and the Ministry for all of their support. I wish you all the best of luck at the Masters and look forward to seeing you all again at Rio 2016.”

Mr. Jan SNIJDERS, IJF Head Refereeing Director, issued a reminder of the importance for judoka to be positive and not take any risk of being penalised for any inactions.

“Dear Mr. President, dear judoka, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to encourage all of your athletes to take the centre of the mat. They should take the grip and not take any risks. I wish you all a lot of luck at the Masters here in Mexico.”

IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER will mark the final qualification event of this four-year cycle by staging a live Twitter question and answer session on Friday at 2pm Mexico time. The Q&A is open to all and questions can be sent to the IJF President by using the hashtag #askvizer. 
The first live Twitter Q&A with Mr. Vizer took place in January 2016. Click here to read the transcript.  

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Olympic champion Sarah MENEZES (BRA) will be first up for Brazil at the Olympic Games on 6 August and will look to take a major step towards defending her Olympic crown on that date by winning her first Masters title. MENEZES, from PiauĂ­ in North Eastern Brazil, became the first Brazilian woman to win Olympic judo gold at London 2012, and will be pitted against her toughest rivals once again in Guadalajara with world number one MUNKHBAT Urantsetseg (MGL) and world champion Paula PARETO (ARG) in action. Former world champion KONDI Ami (JPN) and Olympic bronze medallist Charline VAN SNICK (BEL) will believe that a Masters podium can inspire them to the Olympic podium in August. 


World number one Andreea CHITU (ROU) is one of her country’s leading medal hopes for the Olympics. European bronze medallist CHITU is joined in Guadalajara by fellow three-time world medallist Erika MIRANDA (BRA) and world champion NAKAMURA Misato (JPN) who will be going to her third Games this summer. Olympic bronze medallist Priscilla GNETO (FRA) and Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Annabelle EURANIE (FRA) will finally settle the -52kg Olympic berth for France with GNETO the favourite. Double world champion Majlinda KELMENDI (KOS) turned down her invitation as she rests with a small back complaint.  


Olympic and world champion MATSUMOTO Kaori (JPN) makes her second appearance on the IJF World Judo Tour in 2016 as the Dusseldorf Grand Prix winner makes her final charge towards the Olympics. MATSUMOTO will likely be wearing her gold backpatch as the reigning Olympic champion for the final time and will be determined to make her performance count with her leading rivals providing a mouthwatering line-up as two-time Masters winner DORJSUREN Sumiya (MGL) and Paris Grand Slam winner KIM Jan-Di (KOR) will be in action alongside Marti MALLOY (USA). 


Double world bronze medallist TASHIRO Miku (JPN) won the World Judo Masters at her first attempt last year and will be hoping to win the Olympics in August in her first appearance at the Games. TASHIRO, 22, almost guarantees a medal for her country in every outing and will expect to see the Japanese flag raised in Guadalajara while world bronze medallist TSEDEVSUREN Munkhzaya (MGL) and Baku Grand Slam winner Alice SCHLESINGER (GBR) compete in addition to European bronze medallist Anicka VAN EMDEN (NED) and world number 10 Edwige GWEND (ITA). World champion Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO) has decided to rest rather than travel to Mexico. 


World number one Kim POLLING (NED) will be aiming to win her third World Judo Masters title in Mexico and put an end to her indifferent form on the IJF World Judo Tour. Tbilisi Grand Prix winner POLLING finished fifth at the European Championships last time out and seventh at the Paris Grand Slam. The Dutch fighter has three-time world champion Yuri ALVEAR (COL) for company in the category as well as Paris Grand Slam winner KIM Seongyeon. 


Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON (USA) and soon-to-be Rio 2016 Olympic Games arch-rival, Mayra AGUIAR (BRA), are both in Mexico and could renew their acquaintances just months out from the Games. HARRISON and AGUIAR, who are two of the biggest stars in judo, are locked in their fascinating head-to-head series with eight wins apiece from their 16 meetings. Olympic silver medallist Gemma GIBBONS (GBR) and European bronze medallist Natalie POWELL (GBR) will bid to outperform each other to capture Team GB’s -78kg slot at Rio 2016. 


Olympic champion Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) has won two world titles since London 2012 and took bronze last year in Astana. The 26-year-old Cuban has already won the Almaty Grand Prix this month and will be a front-runner in Mexico as she thrives in high pressure competitions against the elite heavyweights. Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner MA Sisi (CHN) and world bronze medallist YAMABE Kanae (JPN) will fight on the last day in Guadalajara along with Havana Grand Prix bronze medallist Vanessa ZAMBOTTI (MEX). 



Former world champion TAKATO Naohisa (JPN) competes for the first time in 2016 on day one in Mexico. Six-time Grand Slam winner TAKATO, 22, has won the Masters twice and will see this year’s event as the perfect preparation for his first Olympic Games. Olympic bronze medallist Felipe KITADAI (BRA) and double world bronze medallist KIM Won Jin (KOR) are two further stars on show in the men’s lightest weight category while Mongolia will provide three judoka in world number one GANBAT Boldbaatar, Rio 2016 pick TSENDOCHIR Tsogtbaatar and former world silver medallist DASHDAVAA Amartuvshin (MGL). Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix bronze medallist GANBOLD Kherlen was also due to compete for Mongolia but did not attend the weigh-in on Thursday evening. 


World champion AN Baul (KOR) will hope to replace his red backpatch as the current world champion with a gold backpatch by winning the Olympic Games in August. AN, 22, is competing in his first Masters in Mexico and will not be overawed by the occasion or the level of opposition at the invite-only event. World Judo Masters bronze medallist DAVAADORJ Tumurkhuleg (MGL) will see action along with double Olympic bronze medallist Rishod SOBIROV (UZB) while Japan has opted to leave three-time world champion EBINUMA Masashi (JPN) at home and their Rio 2016 back-up Tokyo Grand Slam winner TAKAJO Tomofumi (JPN) gets a run out in Mexico. 


World number one AN Changrim (KOR) has been on the podium at his last 12 events in a staggering run which dates back to 2014. The prolific medallist will be competing at the Masters for the first time ahead of his first Olympic Games. The world bronze medallist will have the hardest task of his career ahead of him in Guadalajara with European champion Rustam ORUJOV (AZE), former continental king Sagi MUKI (ISR), Olympic bronze medallist SAINJARGAL Nyam-Ochir (MGL), defending Masters champion Denis IARTCEV (RUS) and Asian Championships winner HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) all capable of playing a starring role. 


Pan America’s first World Judo Masters could be lit up by Pan American judoka in the -81kg category. World number three and Olympic bronze medallist Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN) will be the top seed in the absence of Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO) and world champion NAGASE Takanori (JPN). World bronze medallist Victor PENALBER (BRA), Almaty Grand Prix winner Ivan Felipe SILVA MORALES (CUB) and Travis STEVENS (USA) will be confident of winning the final Rio 2016 qualifier. Former world champion Loic PIETRI (FRA) needs more competitions after losing his first contest in his comeback at the Almaty Grand Prix earlier this month. Meanwhile, Russia are able to call upon Ivan VOROBEV, Sirazhudin MAGOMEDOV and Alan KHUBETSOV but have left European champion Khasan KHALMURZAEV at home. 


World bronze medallist BAKER Mashu (JPN) will be the top seed in the -90kg category on his World Judo Masters debut. The 21-year-old has been selected for his first Olympic Games and makes his first appearance on the IJF World Judo Tour 2016 in Mexico. Former world champion Asley GONZALEZ (CUB) and Baku Grand Slam winner Marcus NYMAN (SWE) and Almaty Grand Prix winner Axel CLERGET (FRA) will all be targeting a points windfall in Mexico while the legendary Ilias ILIADIS (GRE) and Tiago CAMILO (BRA) – who have four Olympic medals between them - will be hoping to fuel one more push for Olympic glory.  


Former world champion Lukas KRPALEK (CZE), former World Judo Masters bronze medallist Cyrille MARET (FRA) and world bronze medallist Toma NIKIFOROV (BEL) will be among the -100kg stars looking to make a statement to put their rivals on alert going into Rio 2016. Russia and Brazil will both settle long-running domestic battles as Olympic champion Tagir KHAIBULAEV (RUS) joins former Baku Grand Slam winner Adlan BISULTANOV (RUS) in action while former world champion Luciano CORREA (BRA) and Rafael BUZACARINI (BRA) will compete in a winner-take-all day for the Olympic hosts. 


Top seed HARASAWA Hisayoshi (JPN) is unbeaten on the international stage since 2014 and the heavyweight colossus will be eager to see off his rivals with conviction to put himself forward as the strongest threat to Teddy RINER this summer in Rio. Eight-time world champion and current Olympic kingpin RINER will no doubt be watching from home to take one more look at all manner of potential opponents. Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Roy MEYER (NED), Dusseldorf Grand Prix bronze medallist BOR Barna (HUN) and Havana Grand Prix winner Renat SAIDOV (RUS) will be among the heavyweights looking to inflict a defeat on the holder of the second longest unbeaten streak in heavyweight judo as HARASAWA is only second to Frenchman superman RINER.    

11:00 Preliminaries on two mats
16:00 Opening ceremony 
17:00 Final block on one mat

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

11:00 Preliminaries on two mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

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

11:00 Preliminaries on two mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

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

Location: Lopez Mateo Sports Centre

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