Kazan Judo Preview U73kg: Sagi Muki defends his title with a huge competition
The European Championships in Kazan will have more than 40 participants in the category U73kg. The 8,700 fans in the Arena will see a great event in quite a European weight division. Although led by Korean An, Rustam Orujov of Azerbaijan is for sure among the favourites. Last year he lost his first round against Jaromir Jezek (CZE) but now he is the number one seed. Muki is now in the same pool with Dex Elmont, the dangerous Uali Khurzev and Polish Damian Szwarnowiecki; a pool of death with even Igor Wandtke in the same area.
Also Sagi Muki of Israel (ranked 2) will be one of expected finallists, like last year when he captured the European games title. Sagi Muki can suddenly top the table of most successful athletes at Europeans U73kg.
But in this tough category it’s not easy to predict the best athletes for Friday’s second day. Tatalasshvili faces severe oposition of Esposito or Azoidis and his compatriot Lasha Shavdatuashvili.
European athletes in the IJF World Ranking
2 Rustam Orujov (AZE)
3 Sagi Muki (ISR)
4 Nugzari Tatalashvili (GEO)
6 Denis Iartcev (RUS)
10 Miklós Ungvári (HUN)
The Georgians with Nugzari Tatalashvili and Olympic Champion U66kg Lasha Shavdatuashvili will be the top fighters for Georgia to fight for one of the last opportunities for Rio points, too bad they will face eachother in the same pool if things go well. Tatalashvili lost the final last year against Muki.
Last year’s winner of the European Games in Baku were:
Sagi Muki (ISR)
Nugzari Tatalashvili (GEO)
Dirk Van Tichelt (BEL)
Rok Draksic (SLO)
For Russian Denis Iartcev and Musa Mogushkov will be possible medallists. Iartcev has a good draw and can be an outsider. Miki Ungvari is still in the top 10. The ones who surprise this year are Polish Damian Szwarnowiecki who captured gold in Samsun and silver in Prague. Portuguese Nuno Saraiva is doing well this year and can surprise with his dangerous and attractive attacks. Dutch Dex Elmont is in the autumn of his career. He doesn’t need the points but a good result will give him hope for his last stunt in Rio.
Slovenia’s Rok Draksic, Dirk van Tichelt (BEL) and Pierre Duprat (FRA) used to be the top aces, but are outsiders this time. Young gun Antonio Esposito (ITA) can surprise and so can be expected of Martin Hojak (SLO). Dark horse maybe Igor Wandtke (GER).
This Olympic cycle European Champions
2015 Sagi Muki (ISR)
2014 Dex Elmont (NED)
2013 Rok Draksic (SLO)
2012 Ugo Legrand (FRA)
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