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Japanese women sharpen the knives for Tokyo Grand Slam
1 Dec 2016 10:55
This weekend the Grand Slam of Tokyo is held, traditionally the last major event in the Tour. Some of the athletes are back after a period of rest after the Olympic Games. A period of transition between a cycle that ends, which saw the crowning of 14 new Olympic Champions, and a new one that begins.
This 2016 Grand Slam of Tokyo promises to be very exciting. It is not impossible that some of the medallists of the Tokyo Grand Slam 2016, will again write their names in Golden letters within four years. We preview the women’s division for you.
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Jeong Bo-Kyeong (KOR) makes her first start since the Games and will be confident of improving on her already impressive haul of three Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medals (2011, 2012, 2014). The 25-year-old world bronze medallist, who lost the Olympic final to Paula Pareto (ARG) on a waza-ari score, will have it all to do as she prepares for a reunion with Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallists Kondo Ami (JPN) and Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ) while former world champion Munkhbat Urantsetseg (MGL) will also be among the top seeds.
Tyumen Grand Slam winner Shishime Ai (JPN) has medalled at every IJF World Judo Tour event she has competed and her reward is selection for the Tokyo Grand Slam. Shishime, 22, in unbeaten in 2016 on the international stage with victories at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix, Asian Championships and in Siberia. Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Astride Gneto (FRA) is now finding her feet on the senior stage as older sister Priscilla has vacated the category with her sister in mind and with a set of new goals at -57kg. Astride Gneto, 20, will be joined in action by veteran and London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Charline Van Snick (BEL) who will make her -52kg debut with her new coach.
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Dorjsuren Sumiya (MGL), who has had a biopic released in Mongolia since becoming her country’s first female Olympic medallist, will step back onto the IJF tatami in Tokyo. World number one Dorjsuren has never won a Grand Slam and could put that right on day one in Japan. Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Helene Receveaux (FRA) is joined by World Judo Masters bronze medallist Kim Jan-Di (KOR), defending Tokyo Grand Slam champion Yoshida Tsukasa (JPN) and former Tokyo Grand Slam runner-up. Former world champion Udaka Nae (JPN) is unseeded which is also the case for -57kg newcomer Priscilla Gneto (FRA).
Rio 2016 Olympic champion Tina Trstenjak (SLO) remarkably kept the -63kg title in Slovenia this summer as the world and European champion became Olympic champion and traded her red backpatch for a gold backpatch. Trstenjak currently holds every major honour in the sport and the world number one will be the scalp that every other judoka is aiming to take including Japans four youngsters. Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist Kathrin Unterwurzacher (AUT) and Almaty Grand Prix winner Margaux Pinot (FRA) will be targeting a clash against the returning Slovenian champion.
Tyumen Grand Slam winner Arai Chizuru (JPN) is tasked with winning the -70kg title for the hosts as Olympic champion Tachimoto Haruka (JPN) is yet to return and will be a spectator at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Arai, 23, has won her country’s Grand Slam twice and will be put under threat in her title defence by judoka such as World Judo Masters bronze medallist Kim Seong-Yeon (KOR), Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Marie Eve Gahie (FRA) and world and European bronze medallist Fanny Estelle Posvite (FRA).
Takayama Rika (JPN) won the Qingdao Grand Prix two weeks ago while world champion Umeki Mami (JPN) is back in action after being one of only two member of Japan’s 14-strong team to miss the podium at Rio 2016. Two-time Grand Slam winner Sato Ruika (JPN) is also seeded while Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Sama Hawa Camara (FRA) will compete in Japan for the first time.
Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Yamabe Kanae (JPN) is the top seed in the +78kg category. Japan will be expected to run away with this category with world bronze medallist Yamabe featuring alongside Tyumen Grand Slam winner Inamori Nami (JPN) and Jeju Grand Prix winner Asahina Sarah (JPN) who won the Kodokan Cup in November.
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Kevin Bakker (NED)
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