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Six world champions fighting at Grand Prix Zagreb
27 Jul 2018 02:15
Six world champions are poised to compete this weekend at the Grand Prix in Zagreb with just 55 days to go until the 2018 World Judo Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 20 – 27 September.
Japan’s reigning champions Takato Naohisa (U60kg), Abe Hifumi (U66kg), Tonaki Funa (U48kg), Shishime Ai (U52kg) and Asahina Sarah (Open weight) will wear their red backpatches along with Serbia’s first world judo champion Nemanja Majdov (U90kg).
Olympic champion Rafaela Silva (U57kg) of Brazil will be identified by her gold backpatch which will also be the case for Italy’s Fabio Basile (U73kg) and Tina Trstenjak (SLO).
Croatia plays host to the IJF’s second Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualification event this weekend with a bumper entry of 513 judoka (329 men and 184 women) from 78 nations as the sport passed the two-year countdown milestone on Wednesday.
Zagreb has been an annual stop on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2014 and this year will be the grandest and most anticipated edition as it falls within the new Olympic qualification period and the country is on a sporting high after the exploits of the national football team at the World Cup.
The home team will draw inspiration from their football counterparts as they prepare to take on a world-class field of judoka including Olympic and world champions. Croatia have picked a 16-strong team for their three-day Grand Prix and the home fans will see judoka such as World Judo Masters silver medallist Barbara Matic in action at the Zagreb Arena this weekend.
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Toshihiko Koga (JPN)