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What you can expect in Minsk at day 2
23 Jun 2019 08:30
The second day with four weight classes will be spectacular. The French women will be strong and in the men’s categories we can see who may be able to be the best candidate to fight the Asian opponents in Tokyo in August. For us the Azeri athletes are the ones to watch. U81kg is quite open without Sagi Muki, nor Dominic Ressel.
The U73 category is dominated by the Japanese and Korean fighters World Champion An Chang-Rim, Shohei Ono, Soichi Hashimoto, but it is actually quite a European class. With top athletes such as Rustam Orujov, Hidayet Heydarov from Azerbaijan, Lasha Shavdatuashvili (GEO), Tommy Macias (SWE), Akil Gjakova (KOS), Tohar Butbul (ISR) this class is highly interesting who will take the honours. Not among the seeded players is Fabio Basile, perhaps the biggest outsider for his first European title. He is on his way back.
Without Israelian star Sagi Muki the European Championships title U81kg is open for anyone. The Israelians decided not go to the European Games and prefer the Grand Prix in Budapest which is the first European event for 100% qualification points. The European Games will only deliver 700 points for the winner but deducted with 50% next year. Belgian youngster Matthias Casse is now one of those favourites for the title. Although he couldn’t resist the class of Muki, he is gaining momentum for a big title. He won the Junior World title and kept developing. In his slipstream Sami Chouchi took a European silver medal last year in Tel Aviv and both friends battle for one Olympic spot. For now we foresee Casse or Wieczerzak, De Wit and Ivanov as the biggest favourites to take over Muki’s title.
France will be strong in the women’s division
One thing is for sure the women’s U63kg weight class at the European Games will have the best field possible. A world level field with World Champion Clarisse Agbegnenou and Olympic Champion Tina Trstenjak lined up as always with their unstoppable hunger to fight each-other. At the Paris Grand Slam it led to a giant clash decided by the French world champion far in the extra time.
France's medal challenge in the women's U70kg competition is headed by Marie-Eve Gahie. However the competition is severe in this weight class. What used to be a European weight class is now a struggle against Japanese dominance at both Olympic and World level. Only a handful of European women have won an Olympic Games or World Championships medal. Maria Bernabeu of Spain is consistent with two world medals in 2015 and 2017. Sally Conway and Laura-Vargas Koch celebrated a day of world fame with bronze in Rio and World Ranking number two Marie-Eve Gahie was in the World Championships final in 2018. Saying that, the French is for sure one of the favourites to win the gold at the European Games in Minsk.
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Egzon Lekaj (GER)