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Small but good field at first Grand Slam since Olympic Games
27 Oct 2016 16:10
The fourth Grand Slam of the season is due in Abu Dhabi starting on Friday. 157 Judoka from 34 countries have been linked in the draw which resulted in some tasty matches. Despite the low amount of participants, some of the finest athletes can be seen in the capital of the UAE. Special guest at the draw was Ilias Iliadis, while IJF Head Sports Director Vladimir Barta conducted the draw.
Eric Takabatake is one of those athletes who wants to have a good start in the new Olympic cycle for Brazil. We’ve seen the strengths of Albert Oguzov (RUS) previously this year in Tyumen and French and Spanish athletes are ambitious to mingle among the best U60kg.
Andraz Jereb won the Grand Prix in Zagreb and is ranked first in Abu Dhabi U66kg. Arsen Galstyan could be his opponent in a semi final. Sergiu Oleinic and Azamat Mukanov can be expected in the next rounds.
Rustanm Orujov is the favourite for the title U73kg. The Olympic silver medallist can expect opposition of Victor Scvortov, Musa Mogushkov or perhaps Tommy Macias who’s in shape as well. But anything is possible here.
Certainly in U81kg traditionally the most crowded division. Favourite is home player and Olympic bronze medallist Sergiu Toma. A tough match from the start against Marcelo Macedo in a pool of death. Dutchman Frank de Wit who won the junior world title in Abu Dhabi last year, Victor Penalber and Laszlo Csoknyai can be among the medallists on Saturday.
A mix of young talents and experienced subtop athletes in the category U90kg with first seeded Kukolj of Serbia and on the other side European Junior Champ Nemanja Majdov, now U90kg. Good old Axel Clerget in his same pool, not easy to predict this one.
2013 World Champion Elkhan Mammadov tops the line-up U100kg. Zlatko Kumric is back after a shoulder injury and Olympic Rafael Buzacarini and his pre Olympic rival Luciano Correa are both fighting.
Romanian heavyweight Daniel Natea can battle with a few other Brazilians, but also Russian opposition.
The women U48kg may see a tasty final when Munkhbat and Galbadrakh perform according expectations. But Nathalia Brigida and Julia Figueroa have a good vibe in Abu Dhabi and also Milica Nikolic is in the winning mood.
Angelica Delgado may do it for the USA U52kg but the British women seem strong as well, talented Brazilian and Croatian ladies and the heat is on, not just outside with 38 degrees.
A strong French women’s team with U57kg Helene Receveaux as favourite for the gold in Abu Dhabi. But she is likely to face Lola Benarroche who is definitely ready for this level.
Austrian Kathrin Unterwurzacher is back on the tatami but new kids are steaming for a takeover: Lara Reimann, Lucy Renshall and 2013 medallist Pinot, World 5th Juul Franssen, Marijana Miskovic, Maja Blagojevic, Polish women Ozdoba and Talach and last but not least the Brazilian input with 2008 bronze medallist Quadros and the Brazilian surprise of day 4 U63kg Mariana Silva. What an overwhelming close field U63kg. Abu Dhabi always delivers a fine field of judoka.
U70kg Olympian Maria Portela will meet Scoccimarro of Germany and on the other side Marie Eve Gahie seems strong. Bernholm, Yeats-Brown, not bad at all.
Today’s Birthday girl Guusje Steenhuis will fight on Sunday U78kg and is definitely favourite for a golden birthday present. Sour she wasn’t in Rio as participants, so she will be eager to show her best. French, Brazilian, Slovenian and German talents will try everything to become winner.
Maria Suelen Altheman of Brazil is perhaps the biggest name O78kg, but Carolin Weiss the number one seed. In a close field the women’s heavyweights can deliver some firework.
Follow the Grand Slam of Abu Dhabi for the next few days via JudoInside and live streams of the IJF starting each day at 12:00h local time.
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Molly Harvey (GBR)
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