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Small participants field in Tashkent but quality still high

5 Oct 2016 19:30

 by Mark Pickering - IJF    JudoHeroes

The male judoka in Uzbekistan have always been much more important in history, Armen Bagdasarov was one of the first with a huge success as vice Olympic champion in 1996.

In Tashkent 81 men will battle for the seven gold medals, the category U66kg has the most participants, 15, but the quality of the field is quite strong.  The Current President of the Uzbekistan Judo Federation said: “Welcome to the fourth edition of the Tashkent Grand Prix. It is a pleasure to see all of you here to support this event. I would like to thank the Uzbekistan Government for their support and the IJF President Marius Vizer for again trusting us to hold this competition. I wish you all success on the tatami in Uzbekistan.”

Rishod Sobirov, the two-time world champion won his third consecutive Olympic bronze medal (his first and second was at U60kg) to join an all-time list of judo greats with the joint third most number of medals in Olympic judo history. Asian Championships silver medallist Diyorbek Urozboev had made a medal-winning start in Rio de Janeiro for Uzbekistan as he won U60kg bronze.


Former world silver medallist Dashdavaa Amartuvshin (MGL) arrives in Tashkent as the top seed in the men’s lightest weight category having made the most of his sporadic starts in 2016 having not featured in his country’s Rio 2016 Olympic team. The world number five won the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix in July, before bronze at the World Judo Masters, silver at the Tbilisi Grand Prix and bronze at the Paris Grand Slam. The 28-year-old will aim to start the new Olympic cycle with a similar performance but given his quality the -60kg star will only be happy with gold. Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Sharafuddin Lutfillaev (UZB) will be roared on by a full house of fans at the Uzbekistan Sport Complex as he aims to defeat judoka such as Otar Bestaev (KGZ) who bronze in Tashkent last year.


Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix winner Dovdon Altansukh (MGL) won the Asian Championships in April and it comes as no surprise to see him occupy the number one seed position in Tashkent. DOVDON has stiff opposition for a coveted IJF podium with Zagreb Grand Prix winner Andraz Jereb (SLO) in form, former World Judo Masters bronze medallist Takaichi Kengo (JPN) making his first IJF World Judo Tour start since February and former world silver medallist Azamat Mukanov (KAZ) has travelled to nearby Uzbekistan with gold in his sights.


Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Giyosjon Boboev (UZB) could emerge to win his first Grand Prix as he starts his competition day as the number one seed. BOBOEV, 23, won bronze in Tashkent a year ago and now takes on international opposition such as former Tyumen Grand Slam winner and 18-year-old Junior European Championships bronze medallist Martin Hojak (SLO).


Former Paris Grand Slam winner Shakhzodbek Sabirov (ZUB) is overdue a medal on the IJF World Judo Tour as he still has to show that his incredible Paris victory was not a one-off. The 23-year-old won bronze at his home Grand Prix in 2014 but has not won any other senior medals either on the domestic or international stage. Sabirov will be the fighter to watch as he is competing in Uzbekistan but will be challenged by the likes of former world silver medallist Srdjan Mrvaljevic (MNE), Almaty Grand Prix bronze medallist Vladimir Zoloev (KGZ) and 24-year-old Watanabe Hayato (JPN) who is only making his second appearance on the circuit having debuted at the Tokyo Grand Slam in 2014.


Asian Championships winner Komronshokh Ustopiriyon (TJK) is the leading man at -90kg and is in pole position in Tashkent this week. Ustopiriyon won his only Grand Prix gold medal in Astana in 2014 and the IJF-funded athlete will be determined to go one better than his silver medal from the last Tashkent Grand Prix. Former Paris Grand Slam winner Yakhyo Imamov (UZB) makes his second start at -90kg and will hope for a longer day then we made his -90kg debut at the Budapest Grand Prix and was defeated in round two.


Budapest Grand Prix silver medallist Soyib Kurbonov (UZB) leads a largely Asian -100kg field into action on the final day of competition in Tashkent. Kurbonov won his home event in 2013 and has not won a gold medal anywhere in the world since then. Former Asian Championships bronze medallist Saidzhalol Saidov (TJK) will be aiming to win his first IJF World Judo Tour honours which can also be said of Madrid European Open bronze medallist Jalil Shukurov (AZE) and former Asian Championships bronze medallist Viktor Demyanenko (KAZ).


Tyumen Grand Slam winner Andrey Volkov (RUS) has never won an IJF Grand Prix but could change that on Saturday. World number 15 Volkov, 29, is highly inconsistent but on his day can challenge the top heavyweights in the world. The Russian competes alongside Iurii Krakovetskii (KGZ) who produced some memorable moments in Rio. Krakovetskii will command the respect of his peers and the educated audience after shocking world bronze medallist Iakiv Khammo (UKR) at Rio 2016 in a stunning upset. 

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