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Grand Prix Qingdao moves to northern city of Hohhot in 2017
17 Nov 2016 11:15
The Grand Prix of Qingdao is set to start for the last time in the harbor city. The Qingdao Grand Prix was first held in 2009 and is one of the longest-running events on the IJF World Judo Tour. Qingdao’s top sports event has been an annual leg of the tour since then but this year marks a farewell as China’s judo showpiece will move next year to Hohhot, the Capital of Inner Mongolia in North China. The field starts with just 68 women but including the two top Chinese heavyweights Ma and Yu.
Tashkent Grand Prix winner Mariia Persidskaia (RUS) is looking to make it two Grand Prix victories in a row as the top seed in the -48kg category in China. Persidskaia will double her IJF World Judo Tour medal tally on Friday if she can medal on day one while former Pan American Open bronze medallist Li Yanan (CHN) will fly the flag for the hosts.
Taipei Asian Open winner Chen Chin-Ying (TPE) is the leading name in the -52kg category as the number one seed. The 24-year-old lost her opening contest in Qingdao a year ago to eventual winner Nishida Yuka (JPN) and will be relieved to be spared from Japanese opposition in 2016 as their eight-strong team does not feature a -52kg representative. Orenburg European Cup bronze medallist Galiya Sagitova (RUS) will make her second Grand Prix start for Russia in as many months after a first round exit in Uzbekistan.
Asian Championships bronze medallist Yamamoto Anzu (JPN) is a talent far greater than her world number 47 ranking suggests. Yamamoto, 22, finds herself in one of her country’s most competitive divisions and has seen international duty limited with Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Matsumoto Kaori (JPN) and Tyumen Grand Slam winner Yoshida Tsukasa (JPN) both ahead of her. Tashkent Grand Prix winner Anastasiia Konkina (RUS) is the top seed and will surely win her second Grand Prix medal as 17-year-old Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix winner Lkhagvatogoo Enkhriilen (MGL) has the same goal in China.
World Judo Masters bronze medallist Yang Junxia (CHN) finished seventh at the Rio 2016 Olympics after defeats to eventual winner Tina Trstenjak (SLO) and Yarden Gerbi (ISR) who went on to win bronze. Yang makes her competitive return to action in her home country and will start as the favourite to retain her Grand Prix gold medal from 2015. Former world bronze medallist Tsedevsuren Munkhzaya (MGL) is one of the most experienced judoka in her country’s 16-strong team in China and will look to lead by example. Lucy Renshall (GBR) won the European u23 Championships last weekend in Israel and that should spur her on to win the first senior IJF medal of her career. Budapest Grand Prix winner Nabekura Nami (JPN) competes outside of Japan on the IJF World Judo Tour for the second time and the 19-year-old will hope for the same result after victory in Hungary in the summer.
Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Katie-Jemima Yeats-Brown (GBR) arrives in China a week after taking silver at the European u23 Championships in Israel and could turn her top seed status into gold on day two. Yeats-Brown, 21, has been one of a number of young Brits to make an impression post-Rio 2016 and will feature alongside a host of international prospects. Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix winner Ike Erina (JPN) is also a raw and untapped talent to look out for on Saturday. Ike, who finished fifth at the Tokyo Grand Slam last year, will be competing in her third Grand Prix.
Tyumen Grand Slam winner Takayama Rika (JPN) is the top seed in the -78kg category and will be expected to maintain her 100% record of winning medals on the IJF World Judo Tour. The world number 14 has won two Grand Prix bronze medals in addition to her standout Russian victory and could top the podium on Sunday ahead of the Tokyo Grand Slam in December. Former Almaty Grand Prix winner Anastasiya Dmitrieva (RUS) is best placed to challenge Takayama and has to go all the way back to 2013 for her one and only win at this level which came in Kazakhstan.
World champion Yu Song (CHN) won bronze for the hosts at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in her country’s favourite weight category. Yu will receive a superstar reaction at the Diamond Hall as he she fights for the first time since the Olympics. The home star will be challenged by domestic and international opposition as World Judo Masters silver medallist Ma Sisi (CHN) will look to outperform her teammate and steal the show on home soil. Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Sandra Jablonskyte (LTU) has medalled at her last three international events and will be in contention this time around in Asia.
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Kristian Nikollbibaj (SUI)
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