Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Players to watch in the 2016 Tokyo Grand Slam

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The +78kg weight class at the Tokyo Grand Slam has only 11 competitors. The top favorite is Yamabe (JPN) and her main competition is her compatriot Inamori (JPN). Neither Andeol (FRA) nor Ortiz (CUB) will be competing. Also missing are Yu (CHN) and Ma (CHN). This won't be an exciting category.

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With Riner (FRA) and Harasawa (JPN) absent, the top favorite in the +100kg weight class at the Tokyo Grand Slam is Shichinohe (JPN). His main competition is probably Ojitani (JPN). Also missing is Sasson (ISR) and Matiashvili (GEO) who could have given him a tough fight.

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With Harrison (USA) retired and Tcheumeo (FRA) and Aguiar (BRA) not competing, the top favorite has to be Joo (HUN), who has done well in the IJF World Tours since the Olympics. Her main competitor is probably Takayama (JPN).

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With Haga (JPN) not competing, the top prospect for the -100kg division in the Tokyo Grand Slam is probably Maret (FRA). His main challengers are Pacek (SWE), Bisultanov (RUS), and Wolf (JPN). Denisov (RUS), who has just moved up to this weight class is a dark horse. Liparteliani (GEO) who has just moved up as well, is not competing.

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Top prospect in the -70kg division at the Tokyo Grand Slam is Arai (JPN). Her main challenger is Kim (KOR). Many top players are not competing, notably Tachimoto (JPN), Polling (NED) and Alvear (COL).

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Gwak (KOR) is the top prospect in the -90kg category for the Tokyo Grand Slam. Normally this category is super tough but many top players are not competing. Notably absent are Baker (JPN), Toth (HUN), Nyman (SWE), Gonzalez (CUB) and Cheng (CHN). Gviniashvili (GEO) has moved back down to -90kg but he's not competing. Gwak's main challenge will be Nishiyama (JPN). Dark horse is Iddir (FRA).

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Not many top players to challenge Trstenjak (SLO) other than Unterwurzacher (AUT). Dark horse is Beauchemin-Pinard (CAN).

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Nagase (JPN) will probably want to get his revenge against Toma (UAE), who beat him in Rio 2016. These two will be the top dogs in the -81kg category of the Tokyo Grand Slam. Dark horse is Ivanov (BUL).

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No question, Dorjsuren (MGL) is the top favorite here. Notably absent is Matsumoto (JPN) and Silva (BRA). Her main competition will be Yoshida (JPN) and Nae (JPN). Malloy (USA), Kim (KOR) and Receveaux (FRA) are all dark horses.












Top favorite in the -73kg division at the upcoming Tokyo Grand Slam is would have been Ono (JPN) but apparently he is withdrawing due to injury. That means the top favorites are An (KOR) and Nakaya (JPN). Because of home ground advantage I think Nakaya has the edge. Dark horses are aplenty including Iartcev (RUS), Mogushkov (RUS), Hashimoto (JPN) and Ungvari (HUN).

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Many top players are missing from the -52kg division for the Tokyo Grand Slam. Most notably absent are Kelmendi (KOS) and Giuffrida (ITA). Top favorite has to be Shishime (JPN). Her main competition is Babamuratova (TKM), who has some great throwing power. Dark horse is Van Snick (BEL) who has just moved up to this category.

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In the Tokyo Grand Slam -66kg, all eyes will be on Fabio Basile, the dynamic, flashy Italian who upset the odds to win gold in Rio 2016. But in his category are An (KOR), Puliaev (RUS) and the Japanese upstart Abe (JPN). Dark horses are Takajo (JPN) and Khan-Magomedov (RUS). Ebinuma is not contesting.

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The Tokyo Grand Slam -48kg category will also be quite exciting. Home favorite is Kondo but two Mongolians, Munkhbat and Galbadrakh (now fighting for Kazakhstan) will be jostling for top spot too. Jeong (KOR) is the dark horse. She is not as technical as Kondo, Munkhbat or Galbadrakh but a tough, scrappy fighter who can give each of them a run for their money.

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The Tokyo Grand Slam will be the first really exciting judo competition after the Olympics. At -60kg, we have a slate of very exciting players. Top favorite has to be Takato. But other big names are Dashdavaa (MGL), Ganbat (MGL) and Ibrayev (KAZ). Dark horses are Khyar (FRA), Oshima (JPN) and Shishime (JPN).

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