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Clash Agbegnenou and Trstenjak expected dream final in Paris
10 Feb 2017 18:05
The Grand Slam in Paris is the first IJF World Tour event in the road to the 2020 Olympic Games. It is comparable to the 2013 edition. In that edition the French and Japanese athletes dominated in Bercy. This weekend the forecast is the same with 28 French women 10 Japanese, a mix of experience and new generation.
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Jeong Bokyeong (KOR) competes for the first time in 2017 and will be the favourite in the absence of Olympic champion Paula Pareto (ARG). Jeong, who also took silver at the Tokyo Grand Slam in December, will be joined in action by Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Kondo Ami (JPN) and former world champion Munkhbat Urantsetseg (MGL).
Rio 2016 Olympic champion Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS) makes her first appearance on the IJF World Judo Tour in her newly-won gold backpatch as the Kosovo hero bids to win the Paris Grand Slam for the fourth year in a row. Double world champion and reigning European champion Kelmendi, 25, will be joined in -52kg action by a wealth of talent including three-time world medallist Erika Miranda (BRA), Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Natalia Kuziutina (RUS) and Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Astride Gneto (FRA) who could be a leading threat in her homeland.
Rio 2016 Olympic champion Rafaela Silva (BRA) returns to IJF action for the first time since becoming one of the greatest success stories of the last Olympiad. The former world champion accomplished what once seemed like an impossible goal in her home city but the carioca has a level of hunger and determination that has fuelled her rise to becoming one of the most memorable champions of Brazil’s first Olympic Games. Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Helene Receveaux (FRA), who has never medalled at her home event, has five-time Grand Slam winner Yoshida Tsukasa (JPN) for company and London 2012 Olympic bronze medallists Marti Malloy (USA) and Priscilla Gneto (FRA -52kg).
The category U63kg is very strong in Paris. Rio 2016 Olympic champion Tina Trstenjak (SLO) and Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA) lead the -63kg judoka into action in Paris. World and Olympic champion Trstenjak, who took bronze at the Tokyo Grand Slam in December, kept the -63kg Olympic title in Slovenia and will now aim to repeat her 2015 Paris Grand Slam victory with her gold backpatch. Martyna Trajdos will have a severe opponent in Miho Minei of Japan, who will likely overcome Stefanie Tremblay in her first match. Also Margaux Pinot in this pool
Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist Arai Chizuru (JPN) may start the weekend as the number one seed but Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Marie Eve Gahie (FRA) should be seen as the favourite in the French capital. Former cadet world champion Gahie, 20, is one of the most exciting talents to emerge from France in many years and has already tasted Grand Prix and Grand Slam gold but is making only her second start at the Paris Grand Slam. World and European bronze medallist Fanny Estelle Posvite (FRA) will also aim to be France’s best performer in the -70kg category while teenage three-time Grand Slam bronze medallist Elvismar Rodriguez (VEN) will be fighting to win the biggest medal of her thriving career.
Four-time Grand Slam winner Guusje Steenhuis (NED) is the top seed in Paris but former world champion and two-time Olympic medallist Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA) will be the overwhelming favourite at home on Sunday. Tcheumeo, 26, has won her home Grand Slam twice and will be targeting a hat-trick in 2017 as one of the most decorated judoka in the entire French team. Wales’ first female Olympic judoka Natalie Powell (GBR), who won bronze here a year ago, has world accolades in her sights and will look to bounce back from a seventh-place finish in Rio with a medal in France.
Rio 2016 Olympic champion Emilie Andeol (FRA) is still adjusting to life as an Olympic kingpin after always being a consistent performer without troubling the heavyweight hierarchy on the elite level. Now Andeol, a two-time European champion, has a golden backpatch and golden career after an incredible and unexpected run to gold in Brazil which included wins over defending Olympic champion Idalys Ortiz (CUB) and world champion Yu Song (CHN). Paris debutant Asahina Sarah (JPN) will be a fighter to watch out for in the women’s heavyweight category having won the Tokyo Grand Slam last time out and the Tokai University member will have her parents among the 11,000-strong crowd.
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Tommy Mercer (GBR)
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