Saturday, May 6, 2017

Disappearing heavyweights

Have a good look at the countries sending heavyweights to the upcoming Ekaterinburg Grand Slam. Notice in particular, which notable countries are missing. That's right, France and Japan.

You'd think it'd be pretty hard to make a heavyweight disappear but both Teddy Riner (FRA) and Takeshi Ojitani (JPN) have magically disappeared from the roster.

A few weeks ago, judo fans were pretty excited about the prospect of a first-ever Riner vs Ojitani match-up (both were originally listed as participating).

With this being the last major Grand Slam before the Budapest World Championships, does it mean Riner -- who has not fought since the Rio Olympic in August 2016 -- will not have any fights leading up to the World's?

Is that a good idea? As powerful as he is, doesn't he need some warm-up competitions to get back into the groove of things?

Also, was his withdrawal from Tblisi a strategic decision to deny Ojitani a chance to get some experience fighting him before their likely match up in Budapest later this year?

And was Ojitani's withdrawal due to the fact that Riner is not going to be there after all? Ahh... all these imponderables.

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