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Majlinda Kelmendi set to return at Abu Dhabi blockbuster
26 Oct 2018 16:55
The fourth Grand Slam of the season in Abu Dhabi will see the return of Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo. 348 judoka from 62 nations in action over the next three days including Olympic champions Lukas Krpalek (CZE), Paula Pareto (ARG) and Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS).
Kosovo superstar Kelmendi has not fought since 2017 due to injury and in her absence her teammates have more than stepped up and kept their country moving forward on the tatami with European Championships, Grand Prix and Grand Slam gold medals. Kelmendi is a flag bearer for her country on the world stage and her anxious wait to return to action is finally over with the double senior world champion set to compete on day one in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi will take over the sporting world landscape from 27 – 29 October on a weekend where the sport will also be celebrating World Judo Day and the theme of Friendship on Sunday 28 October.
Majlinda Kelmendi returns to action after a year on the sidelines through injury. Kelmendi has slipped down to 29th place in the world on the IJF World Ranking List after missing the majority of the 2018 season but has been back in training for several months. In her weight class U52kg the Kosovo star is an eight-time Grand Prix winner and will be determined to make a triumphant return. Kelmendi will be fighting against Russian Yulia Kazarina in her first contest before facing Polish Karolina Pienkowska if she wins. Also back on track is her Olympic opponent in the final Odette Giuffrida who will fight Lamia Eddinari of Morocco in her first battle. Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Angelica Delgado (USA) is the number one seed and should challenge while Cancun Grand Prix bronze medallist Evelyne Tschopp (SUI) is in-form and could be in contention in Abu Dhabi.
The crown jewel of the IJF World Judo Tour, the World Championships, is still an indelible memory for judo fans and the media alike but the world of elite level judo is constantly moving. Since September’s Worlds in Baku, Azerbaijan, the stars of the thriving Olympic sport visited Mexico for the Cancun Grand Prix and now the stage is set for the penultimate Grand Slam of the season.
Grand Slam events have been held in Paris, Düsseldorf and Ekaterinburg already this year with Osaka still to come in November.
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