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Great Line-up for Antalya Grand Prix
6 Apr 2018 04:40
Turkey’s annual Grand Prix comes one week after Georgia’s Tbilisi Grand Prix and before April’s respective continental championships. The next IJF event after this weekend will be the Hohhot Grand Prix at the end of May as China launches the two-year qualification period which for the first time will see an equal number of male and female athletes qualify (18 per weight category).
The IJF World Judo Tour’s final stop before the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification phase is upon us as the Antalya Grand Prix has attracted 319 judoka and 50 nations to the country’s famed resort city.
Despite the close proximity to the start of the Tokyo 2020 qualification, Antalya has lured countries from across all corners of the world with a star-studded field of athletes including former Olympic champions and reigning world champions.
Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Naidan Tuvshinbayar (MGL) won a remarkable bronze medal at the World Championships last year and the 33-year-old legend competes on Sunday in Turkey for the first time this year.
World champion Nemanja Majdov (SRB) is looking for his first medal since capturing his first world title in 2017. The youngster can put down a marker as he bids to qualify for his first Games by winning in style on the last day of the Antalya Grand Prix.
London 2012 Olympic champion Sarah Menezes (BRA) is back down at U48kg and is ready to embark on her bid to qualify for her third consecutive Olympic Games. Again last week’s winner in Tbilisi Marusa Stangar is now seeded number one, directly against Dilara Lokmanhekim, great to see her back, but a tough draw. Team Kosovo is strong in the women’s U52 and U57kg as always. The women's U70kg is hugely attractive with good names in Antalya.
Hosts Turkey have assembled a 36-strong squad for their own Grand Prix and have medal chances on all three days. Also Mongolia is estimated for a number of medals with a strong team. Hidayet Heydarov of Azerbaijan is also one the top seeds U73kg with spectacular judo, he is in pool A and in pool C his junior rival Bilal Ciloglu of Turkey in a tough pool with Olympic medallist Dirk van Tichelt and let’s not wipe out Georgios Azoidis. It makes the U73kg very appealing to watch.
U100kg is traditionally strong with Grand Slam Ekaterinburg winner Niyaz Ilyasov of Russia, and as number one seed Miklos Cirjenics (HUN).
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Bente Elst (NED)
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