Friday, July 15, 2016

Tyumen Grand Slam 2016, Russia PREVIEW

(Via IJF)

The IJF World Judo Tour has made its way to Siberia for the Tyumen Grand Slam with 21 days to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

Following a four-year Olympic cycle and two-year qualification campaign which culminated in May following the World Judo Masters, the judo world will be focused on the final IJF event before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The official draw for the Tyumen Grand Slam 2016 took place on Thursday

The IJF World Judo Tour has stopped in Havana (CUB), Dusseldorf (GER), Tbilisi (GEO), Samsun (TUR), Almaty (KAZ), Budapest (HUN) and Ulaanbaatar (MGL) for Grand Prix events this year along with Grand Slams in Paris (FRA) and Baku (AZE) and the invite-only World Judo Masters in Guadalajara (MEX). The truly global IJF circuit has now arrived in Siberia for the third of five annual Grand Slams with post-Olympic editions to be staged in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Tokyo (JPN).

Judo will set a new participation record at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with 389 judoka set to compete from 136 nations to surpass London 2012 which featured 135 countries and 387 athletes.

As the world counts down to the Olympics, a host of Rio-bound judoka will hope for a confidence-boosting performance in Tyumen as they aim to ensure that they are competition ready for the biggest competitions of their lives in Brazil.

World Judo Masters bronze medallist Natalie POWELL (GBR) will be one of the top seeds in the -78kg category in Rio de Janeiro at her first Olympics and the Welsh fighter will be in action in Tyumen on Sunday. The 25-year-old, who has admittedly been buoyed by the exploits of the Welsh football team at the European Championships, is the number one seed in Siberia and will be determined to reach the first Grand Slam final of her career.

Fellow World Judo Masters bronze medallist Marcus NYMAN (SWE) is in a similar position as one of the top seeds in Rio and is the top seed at the Tyumen Grand Slam. The Swede is one his nation’s three top seeds in Russia and they will be a team to keep tabs on this weekend.

Japan have entered a 15-strong team with one eye on Tokyo 2020 including 18-year-old wonderkid ABE Hifumi and have the top seeds in four of the seven women’s categories.

From L-R: Mr. Mohamed MERIDJA, IJF Education and Coaching Director, Mr. Jan SNIJDERS, IJF Head Refereeing Director, Mr. Armen BAGDASAROV, IJF Sports Director

The draw took place on Thursday afternoon at the Mercure Hotel as Mr. Armen BAGDASAROV (below), IJF Sports Director, revealed that 124 judoka would compete in Siberia from 25 nations.

Mr. Mohamed MERIDJA, IJF Education and Coaching Director, opened the draw on behalf of the International Judo Federation.

“Mr. Vice President, dear judo family members, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to welcome you to Tyumen for the final stop before Rio 2016. Our President Mr. Marius VIZER would like to convey his best wishes to you all and I wish you a lot of luck."

From L-R: Mr. KHABIROV, Mr. Anatoliy LARYUKOV, Head of Event Organisation Department, Mr. Sergey KUSHKOV, Tyumen Region Judo Federation President 

Mr. Valentin KHABIROV, Russian Judo Federation Vice President, made the opening address for the local organising committee.

“Dear friends, dear colleagues, on behalf of Russian Judo Federation President Mr. Vasily ANISIMOV, I welcome all participants and guests to the Tyumen Grand Slam 2016. I would like to thank the IJF for their support as always and I would like to thank the Government of the Tyumen region for their hospitality and perfect organisation. I wish all athletes good luck here and at Rio 2016.”

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Top seed TONAKI Funa (JPN) has already been pencilled in by her country as a candidate for Tokyo 2020 along with Budapest Grand Prix winner ENDO Hiromi and Japan’s Rio 2016-bound former world champion KONDO Ami. Junior world champion TONAKI, 20, won the Qingdao Grand Prix to close off the finest year of her career and started 2016 in similar fashion by winning her first Asian Championships honours with bronze in April. Russia’s Rio 2016 pick Irina DOLGOVA is rested which sees domestic hopes pinned largely on world number 28 Nataliya KONDRATYEVA (RUS). The 30-year-old veteran, who represented her country at the London 2012 Olympics where she lost in the opening round, won bronze at the Tokyo Grand Slam last year and finished seventh at the European Championships last time out. 


World number 10 SHISHIME Ai (JPN) is expected to lead the way in the -52kg category in the next Olympic cycle with Rio 2016 pick NAKAMURA Misato and NISHIDA Yuka unlikely to seek a spot at their home Olympics. SHISHIME, 22, won the Asian Championships in May after winning the Dusseldorf Grand Prix in February and could remain unbeaten on the international stage in 2016 after the Tyumen Grand Slam. European bronze medallist Yulia RYZHOVA (RUS) is Russia’s best entrant in the -52kg category on Saturday while former Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Petra NAREKS (SLO) and Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix bronze medallist Tena SIKIC (CRO) could come into the medal equation. 


Three-time Grand Slam winner YOSHIDA Tsukasa (JPN) is one more gifted judoka from her county’s Tokyo 2020 generation. YOSHIDA, 20, who has Olympic and world champion MATSUMOTO Kaori (JPN) among her domestic rivals, won the Baku Grand Slam last time out and is a clear favourite in Tyumen. Former Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam winner Jovana ROGIC (SRB) could grace the medal podium for the first time since 2014 while Casablanca African Open silver medallist Manon DURBACH (LUX) will fancy her outside chances of opening her IJF medal account in Russia.  


Rio-bound Mia HERMANSSON (SWE) will look to sign off with a win before competing at her first Olympics in three weeks’ time. The Swede, 23, secured a continental quota place for Rio 2016 after winning bronze at the Almaty Grand Prix in May and faced an excruciating wait for the rankings and points to be calculated but ultimately achieved her desired goal. Two-time African Championships bronze medallist Helene WEZEU DOMBEU (CMR), who did not qualify for Rio 2016, will hope to push for her first IJF silverware while 20-year-old NOUCHI Aimi (JPN) comes in under the radar but could leave with the plaudits and a place on top of the podium.  


Former World Judo Masters bronze medallist ARAI Chizuru (JPN) is one of the most experienced judoka in Japan’s youth-focused team. The 22-year-old lost out in the race to Rio to reigning Tyumen Grand Slam winner TACHIMOTO Haruka (JPN) but could make the spot her own post-Olympics. ARAI will improve on her 2014 bronze medal from Tyumen if she can see off judoka such as Budapest Grand Prix winner Elvismar RODRIGUEZ (VEN) who has been one of the latest and greatest success stories of this Olympic cycle. The teenager could again come away with a new personal best this weekend if she can reach the final. African Championships bronze medallist Antonia MOREIRA (ANG) will also hope to string together a run of victories before fighting at the Olympics next month. 


Great Britain’s most prolific medallist on the road to Rio has been Natalie POWELL (GBR) and the World Judo Masters bronze medallist will be the top seed in Tyumen. POWELL, 25, is preparing for her first Games where she will be one of the top seeds having seen off the challenge of Olympic silver medallist Gemma GIBBONS (GBR) to be Britain’s -78kg representative in Rio. Wales’ first Olympic female judoka was reading The Secret Olympian while travelling to Tyumen as she prepares on and off the tatami for the Olympics Games. Asian Championships silver medallist TAKAYAMA Rika (JPN) won bronze medals at Grand Prix events in Ulaanbaatar and Jeju last year and the 21-year-old will compete at her first Grand Slam on Sunday and first IJF event outside of Asia. Former Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Anastasiya DMITRIEVA (RUS) has failed to medal since her career high in Azerbaijan in 2014 and with an open field and home advantage the 28-year-old must capitalise on this golden chance. Junior World Championships silver medallist Klara APOTEKAR (SLO), 18, finished fifth at the Budapest Grand Prix in June which was enough to convince selectors to hand the teenager her Grand Slam debut in Siberia. 


Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Nihel CHEIKH ROUHOU (TUN) finished fifth at the World Judo Masters in her last event and will be targeting her first Grand Slam gold medal on Sunday. The Tunisian qualified for Rio 2016 with ease and the three-time Grand Slam silver medallist will be going there to make an impression and that starts with the Tyumen Grand Slam on Sunday. Tokyo Grand Slam winner INAMORI Nami (JPN) rarely misses the podium and could make it a hat-trick of Grand Slam victories on the second and final day in Russia while World Judo Masters bronze medallist Larisa CERIC (BIH) is in the best run of former of her career and that should continue here. 

The Tyumen Grand Slam is the final event before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games 



Former world bronze medallist Ilgar MUSHKIYEV (AZE) is the top seed in the men’s lightest weight category as he looks to move closer to Azerbaijan’s world number two and Rio 2016 selection Orkhan SAFAROV (AZE). MUSHKIYEV, who at 25 is a year older than SAFAROV, has been in medal contention recently but has slipped away at the crucial stages with seventh-place finishes at the Baku Grand Slam and European Championships. Asian Championships bronze medallist OSHIMA Yuma (JPN) has made infrequent appearances on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2014 but the 21-year-old hotshot has always delivered for Japan to keep himself in the rotation. 


World number 25 and top seed ABE Hifumi (JPN) is the most famous Tokyo 2020 medal hope in Japan. The 18-year-old Nanjing 2014 Youth Games winner has been the subject of documentaries in Japan as they chart his rise towards Tokyo 2020 and has thus become one of the most famous teenagers in his country. ABE makes his first international appearance since winning the Tashkent Grand Prix in October as Tyumen will be his first Grand Slam outside of Japan. Yakub SHAMILOV (RUS) won bronze here a year ago and will be in the medal hunt again while former Jeju Grand Prix winner TATEYAMA Sho (JPN) makes only his second IJF start since that success in South Korea. 


Double world bronze medallist Musa MOGUSHKOV (RUS) is the top seed in the -73kg category in Siberia. MOGUSHKOV, who represented Russia at London 2012 in the lighter -66kg category, has lost out to Denis IARTCEV for his country’s -73kg berth at Rio 2016 and will look to put that behind by winning gold on Saturday. Kazakhstan are a one-man team this weekend as all hope rests on the sprightly shoulders of 19-year-old Almaty Grand Prix bronze medallist Didar KHAMZA (KAZ). The Asian Championships silver medallist is yet to win a Grand Slam medal but that could change on day one in Siberia. World number 52 Tommy MACIAS (SWE) could be in line for the best tournament of his career as one of the top -73kg seeds in Tyumen. 


Tbilisi Grand Prix winner Alan KHUBETSOV (RUS) should be the leading man for Russia in the -81kg category as the number one seed. KHUBETSOV, who took silver in Tyumen in 2014, has one Grand Slam victory to his name having won the Baku Grand Slam in 2014. Former world bronze medallist Ivan VOROBEV (RUS) has struggled for wins lately with nothing to show for his last six events and he will hope to end that barren run at home on Saturday. European bronze medallist Robin PACEK (SWE) will warm up for Rio with one last competition as he looks to bolster his outside medal chances for the Olympic Games. 


World Judo Masters bronze medallist Marcus NYMAN (SWE) has gone from being a Rio 2016 qualification hopeful to a serious medal threat in the space of six months. The 2010 European champion drifted away from the top of the pecking order in the intervening years since his continental win in Austria but the Swedish fighter is now making up for lost time. NYMAN, 25, will be seeded for the Olympics after a staggering run of results which has included bronze at the European Championships, gold at the Baku Grand Slam and bronze at the World Judo Masters in May. Khusen KHALMURZAEV (RUS), the twin brother of Russia’s -81kg Rio hope Khasan KHALMURZAEV, could prove too strong fighting in Russia with the incentive of winning his first Grand Slam gold medal while Qingdao Grand Prix winner NAGASAWA Kenta (JPN) will also be a contender. 


World Judo Masters bronze medallist Martin PACEK (SWE) is the second of Sweden’s top male seeds as he aims for victory before being one of the top eight seeds at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Tbilisi Grand Prix winner PACEK won here a year ago and will need to be at his best to defend his title with former Baku Grand Slam winner Adlan BISULTANOV (RUS) and former Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix bronze medallist Benjamin FLETCHER (GBR) all gunning for top spot. 


Former Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist OJITANI Takeshi (JPN) of Tokai University competes internationally in 2016 for the first time on Sunday and will do so with top seed status. Two-time Junior World Championships winner OJITANI, 24, secured his second All Japan Openweight title in April ahead of SHICHINOHE Ryu and HARASAWA Hisayoshi who received the nod for the Games. Two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist Andrey VOLKOV (RUS) leads Russia’s challenge for heavyweight glory while Junior World Championships bronze medallist OGAWA Yusei (JPN) – the son of ‘Captain Hustle’ OGAWA Naoya, Barcelona 1992 Olympic silver medallist and four-time world champion – makes his Grand Slam debut.     

12:00 Preliminaries on two mats
16:30 Opening ceremony 
17:00 Final block on two mats

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

12:00 Preliminaries on two mats
17:00 Final block on two mats

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

Location: Tyumen Athletic Centre

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