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Cuba and Mongolia favourite for medals at GP Ulaanbaatar
30 Jun 2016 13:45
The draw at the Grand Prix in Mongolia revealed that 126 judoka (65 men, 61 women) will be engaged in action from 13 nations in Ulaanbaatar. International stars in action include Olympic champion Idalys Ortiz (CUB), Olympic silver medallist and former world champion Asley Gonzalez (CUB), former world silver medallist Jose Armenteros (CUB) and Paris Grand Slam winner Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ). Obviously they will take medals this weekend, but it’s just a preparation alongside the usual training in this period in advance of the Olympic Games.
Former world champion and Rio 2016 Olympic Games top seed Munkhbat Urantsetseg (MGL) wants to become her country’s first female Olympic champion in any sport. The 26-year-old has won gold at every level of the IJF World Judo Tour including her home event in 2013 and 2015. Almaty Grand Prix winner Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ), who will be seeded for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, has had the measure of her former teammate Munkhbat in 2016 while All Japan Championships bronze medallist Morizaki Yurie (JPN) makes her third appearance on the IJF World Judo Tour (Tokyo 2013, Tokyo 2014) and will be hoping its third time lucky as she bids to earn her first honours for Japan on the world stage on day one.
Former Junior World Championships bronze medallist Uchio Mako (JPN) will be the top seed in the -52kg category for the first time. UCHIO, 20, took silver at the Jeju Grand Prix last year on her IJF World Judo Tour senior debut, and will be confident of claiming gold for Japan’s seven-strong women’s team. Former Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix bronze medallist Chintogtokh Azzaya (MGL) will compete along with Kwon Aerim (KOR) who makes her second start on the IJF World Judo Tour after making her debut a year ago at the same event.
Judo is a family passion for former Asian Championships winner Ishikawa Megumi (JPN), whose dad is a distinguished coach in her native Nagoya and whose mum is a kata competitor. Ishikawa, 27, is a top-level talent but finds herself in Japan’s most overloaded category so competitions on the IJF World Judo Tour have been infrequent with this weekend being her first IJF assignment since the Tokyo Grand Slam 2013. Ishikawa has two Grand Prix medals to her name after winning bronze in Amsterdam in 2011 and in Dusseldorf in 2013. Rome European Open bronze medallist Kim Minju (KOR) will be intent on winning her first IJF medal this weekend as Asia could command this category among others.
With Olympic preference U60kg Tsendochir Tsogtbaatar the category starts in Mongolia with former world silver medallist and top seed Dashdavaa Amartuvshin (MGL) who is considered a certain medal source for the hosts when he launches his home campaign on Friday. Dashdavaa, who won bronze at the invite-only World Judo Masters in May, has been overlooked for Rio 2016 with 20-year-old prodigy Tsendochir. Orenburg European Cup silver medallist Rasim Almammadov (AZE) and former Buenos Aires Pan American Open bronze medallist Albert Mongush (RUS) could come into the equation if Mongolia are unable to repeat their four medals from four judoka as they achieved a year ago.
Asian Championships winner Dovdon Altansukh (MGL) will be expected to lead the way in the -66kg category for Mongolia as the top seed. The two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist, who surprisingly lost his opening contest at the World Judo Masters in his last event, has the skills to potentially come away with a rousing win for his nation and will be a strong challenge for judoka such as former Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Vugar Shirinli (AZE), Prague European Open winner Andraz Jereb (SLO) and Tyumen Grand Slam bronze medallist Askhat Telmanov (KAZ).
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Leonid Gasyuk (UKR)