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Georgia powerful judo nation for men
16 Sep 2018 17:05
Georgia is a powerful judo nation, but only for men. For a long time, it had no female players in its World Championships team. Its first female representative, Esther Stam, was not even from Georgia but was an import from the Netherlands when she switched in 2014.
For Baku, it is sending only one female player, Mariam Janashvili (U52kg) who is home grown. She is a former World Junior Championships silver medalist but has not won any major titles as a senior yet (she is just 22 years old).
Georgia's men's team is solid as to be expected. At U60kg it has got two representatives, Amiran Papinashvili (30) and Lukhumi Chkhvimiani (25). The former has been a top player in the IJF World Tour for the past decade but has not won a World title although he has in his time beaten some of the very best in the world including double World Champion Naohisa Takato of Japan. Although he is not the top favorite for U60kg in Baku, he could be a dark horse.
If Japan is spoiled for choice in the U73kg (with Hashimoto, Ono and Ebinuma all in that category), Georgia is in the same situation for the U90kg category where it is sending two players: Ushangi Margiani and Beka Gviniashvili, who just narrowly edged out Avtandil Tchrikishvili for a spot on Georgia's team for Baku. Actually, besides these three, Georgia also has Giorgi Papunashvili in this category. So it's actually got four top players in the same weight class. Of the two who were chosen, Gviniashvili is probably the dark horse to look out for.
Like his teammate Papinashvili at U60kg, Varlam Liparteliani (29) is also heading towards the end of his career, hoping to win a World title and later an Olympic title before he retires. Like Papinashvili, he's beaten some of the very best players in the world. He's won gold medals in five Grand Prixs, four Grand Slams, three European Championships and one World Masters. In other words, he's won everything there is to be won except the World's and the Olympics. Will Baku be his moment. Quite possibly. He is one of two of Georgia's lead contenders for gold (the other being Guram Tushishvili at +100kg).
Tushishvili is a member of a new breed of heavyweight judo players who are not very big in size and not the fat type but rather, very athletic. Many expect him to be the one who finally beats Riner. With the Frenchman giving Baku a miss, Tushishvili has to be the top favorite for this category although it must be said that there are several other not-fat, athletic heavyweights competing as well.
Good news for the future of Georgian judo is that at the Junior European Championships, the women captured three medals for the first time ever in the history. That performance gives another interesting outlook for the future.
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