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Record low participation at Grand Prix Qingdao hosting 155 athletes
17 Nov 2016 11:45
Since the Olympic Games in Rio Qingdao is the fourth city to host an IJF World Tour event. The Qingdao Grand Prix 2016 draw took place on the eve of the competition at the Diamond Hall within the Qingdao Guoxin Stadium. This event will host 15 nations and 155 judoka (87 men, 68 women) over the next three days. The previous low record was in 2009 at the first edition with 158 athletes. Last year 379 judoka participated.
Former world silver medallist Dashdavaa Amartuvshin (MGL) finished a disappointing fifth at the Tashkent Grand Prix last time out and will start in Qingdao as the number one -60kg seed. Casablanca African Open silver medallist Islam Yashuev (RUS) has had his share of IJF World Judo Tour outings this year but has not been a factor in the final block yet but that could change on Friday. Hayashi Kohei (JPN) makes his IJF World Judo Tour senior debut having finished fifth at the Junior World Championships in 2014 and the 21-year-old will no doubt make the most of his opportunity for Japan.
Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Dovdon Altansukh (MGL) competes in China for the first time on Friday and will be the number one Seed. The two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist is ranked fifth in the world and will move closer to category leader An Baul (KOR) if he can win the Qingdao Grand Prix at his first attempt. The second Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Andraz Jereb (SLO) is also present in China and will also be making his bow in the country. Zagreb Grand Prix winner Jereb has already won three Grand Prix medals this year and should be wearing his fourth on Friday evening. Tyumen Grand Slam silver medallist Anzaur Ardanov (RUS) last graced a Grand Prix medal podium in 2014 in Jeju, South Korea, and is overdue a medal on this stage if he is to remain in the plans of Russian Team Manager Ezio Gamba.
Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Saiyinjirigala (CHN) knows what it takes to win a Grand Prix having topped the medal podium at the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix last year. The ippon seoi-nage specialist is the number one seed at -73kg ahead of teammate and two-time Grand Prix bronze medallist Sun Shuai (CHN). Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist Uali Kurzhev (RUS) has never won a Grand Prix and has his best chance to do so in China as one of the top seeds.
Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix winner Nyamsuren Dagvasuren (MGL) has had the best year of his career and will be a contender in the -81kg category on Saturday. The Mongolian fighter was fifth at the invite-only World Judo Masters in May and took bronze at the Almaty Grand Prix having already won the Asian Championships in 2016. Two-time Grand Prix bronze medallist Nick Delpopolo (USA) will officially move up to the -81kg on category which has been a long time in the making. The double Olympian, who finished seventh at Rio 2016 in the -73kg category, will compete in Qingdao and Tokyo at -81kg and is the only American in action in China.
Glasgow European Open winner Max Stewart (GBR) is the number one seed at an IJF World Judo Tour event for the first time in his career. The 23-year-old finished fifth at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam but his career is moving in one direction and that is up as he has been a consistent performer for Great Britain. Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix silver medallist Gantulga Altanbagana (MGL) is part of a 13-strong Mongolian delegation in China and could star for the hosts’ neighbours.
Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Philip Awiti-Alcaraz (GBR) could become a force to be reckoned with in the -100kg category and is the highest ranked judoka in the category in Qingdao. The Enfield Judo Club product won bronze at the Budapest Grand Prix in June and should win his third IJF senior medal on Sunday. Four-time world medallist Kirill Denisov (RUS) will fight at -100kg for the first time as the Rio 2016 Olympian considers a full-time switch from -90kg to the heavier weight category.
Tyumen Grand Slam winner Andrey Volkov (RUS) took silver last time out at the Tashkent Grand Prix and will be fancied to win his third medal in a row on the IJF World Judo Tour. Volkov needs to win in China with London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Alexander Mikhaylin (RUS) coming out of retirement at the age of 37 to fight at the Tokyo Grand Slam next month. Volkov will have Asian youth to contend with in person in the form of former Junior World Championships winner Ulziibayar Duurenbayar (MGL) and Tyumen Grand Slam silver medallist Ogawa Yusei (JPN).
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