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Preview Grand Prix Zagreb with Riner but without Tushishvili
25 Jul 2019 14:55
The seventh edition of the Grand Prix in Croatia will start on Friday with 558 athletes lined up from 87 nations. It is actually six edition in Zagreb as the first in 2013 was held in Rijeka. There were about 700 registrations but many athletes cancelled and among those was World Champions Guram Tushishvili who is training in the mountains. Teddy Riner though is present to build up a position in the World Ranking and to secure an early qualification.
In Zagreb many top stars fighting for the 14 gold medals. Obviously many people look forward to Sunday where Teddy Riner is in the starting grid and he is in the poule with Roy Meyer (NED) and Iakiv Khammo (UKR). Also strong Korean Kim in in that same poule once fighting for a place in the semi final. Or Sasson and defends his title. Sasson won gold as well two weeks ago in Budapest so he may feature in the semi final against Riner, but also Zaalishvili, who is in fact still in the race for a ticket for the Worlds, is with Sasson in the poule.
On the other side Harasawa who is one of the Japanese who didn’t cancel participation. Also Ono was eventually skipped but registered. Harasawa and Kokuari could be in the quarter final but also Matiashvili is in the race. Also Matiashvili is fighting for one place in Tokyo with four-five candidates as most places are taken in the Georgian men’s team, Zagreb will be decisive for this spot. Birthday boy Stephan Hegyi is in Pool D.
The category U73kg hosts 59 men, this happened only in Düsseldorf in 2015, so that’s World Championships level in quantity. Also the men’s U81kg (54) and men’s U90kg (50) have a huge field.
It is the best ever field in the history of the Zagreb Grand Prix, 50 athletes more than last year and the best Grand Prix this year so far, only the Grand Slam of Paris and Düsseldorf had more athletes at the start.
Interesting is also the women’s U63kg category without Agbegnenou but with Trstenjak, Nabekura, Franssen, Vermeer and Beauchemin-Pinard, five women in the top 10.
Majlinda Kelmendi isn’t fighting in Zagreb despite the announcements. Natsumi Tsunoda is the number one seed of Japan U52kg. Both Christa Deguchi and Jessica Klimkait will fight in Zagreb after their training camp in the Netherlands.
Paris winner Yoko Ono is opposed to quadruple European Champion Kim Polling (NED) in round one.
Three days of judo fun and battles, something to look out for.
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Ambako Avaliani (GEO)