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European Open in Minsk will have a finger-licking good field
21 Jul 2017 09:05
Four of the Olympic Games medallist will be fighting at the European Open in Minsk. The tournament in Belarus will be an important preparation for many European top, world-level athletes for the World Championships in Budapest.
The category U100kg will even have two Olympic medallists. Varlam Liparteliani took silver at the Games U90kg but was devastated by the results and heart-broken; he couldn’t make his weight anymore after the Games. “Everyone who made weight as a judoka will understand what I mean,” Liparteliani said. Meanwhile, Liparteliani captured bronze at the Grand Slam in Paris and the Grand Slam in Ekaterinburg. He is not yet getting top results, but he’s coming along. With his amazing technique, he can be an nasty opponent for the world elite U100kg, and some of that elite group is coming to Minsk. World No. 2 Michael Korrel won the Grand Slam in Baku and was the World No. 1, but the gaps are small and Maret is the World No. 1 at the moment. Korrel will be looking out to Minsk to hold a few guys and feel the tension of a match after some weeks of intense training.
King Gasimov, the runner-up at the Olympic Games behind Krpalek, will be seen in Minsk as well. He won silver in Baku behind Korrel and at the Islamic Games behind Mammadov. Liparteliani and Gasimov fought eachother U90kg when they were both juniors in 2008, where twice Liparteliani was the winner.
Further candidates are Peter Paltchik (ISR) who’s in good shape, Ben Fletcher (GBR), Jevgenijs Borodavko (LAT), and Portuguese Jorge Fonseca, who is always a pleasure to watch. Perhaps some outsiders in Darwish (EGY), Dvarby (SWE), Catharina (NED) or home player from Belarus Mikita Sviryd, who’s picking up the pace, will be in the hunt.
Another Olympic medallist in Minsk is Rustam Orujov, the second one from Azerbaijan, which sent a strong team that includes up-and-coming man Hidayet Heydarov. But also with Tommy Macias (SWE), smart Egyptian Mohyeldin and about 60 other warriors, the U73kg class is finger-licking.
Last but not least Telma Monteiro, who is making her comeback. The Portuguese finally made her dream come true to get a medal since 2004. Telma, who was three times the runner-up at World Championships, is definitely the most experienced in the field U57kg. Hasn't fought at all since her Olympic medal, where most have had at least an event. Riner, Polling, and Mudranov are the exceptions, and now Monteiro breaks the silence. Meanhwile, she wrote a book, enjoyed and absorbed the fame, and now things are getting for real. Budapest is approaching without her being among the favourites. Telma can be relaxed and warm-up in Minsk. It is not a top field, so the perfect bathwater to find her match rhythm.
For Belarus, the European Open is an important milestone of the year. With European Champion Maryna Slutskaya, the organization can look forward to a possible match between World No. 1 Slutskaya and World No. 2 Larisa Ceric (BIH). With Kayra Sayit (TUR) in the field, Minsk sets the tone for a strong event on Sunday.
European Junior Champion Dzmitry Minkou (WRL-24) will start U66kg; he won Grand Slam bronze in Ekaterinburg and is among the seeded players. U90kg with Yahor Varapayeu, who is seeded for Belarus, may meet with Komronshokh Ustopiriyon (TJK), if all goes well. Aleksandr Vakhaviak and Uladzislau Tsiarpitski are two other seeded players for the home nation at +100kg.
The second highest seeded player for Belarus is Darya Skrypnik (29 – WRL 15). Budapest could suddenly be her last tournament, but a good warm-up in Minsk is essential in her category U52kg. She won bronze at the World Championships in 2015, so certainly a she is a high-profile athlete to watch on Saturday.
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Arni Lund (ISL)
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