Who are the top seeded men in Abu Dhabi's Grand Slam?
An outstanding number of participants of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam this week. Most of the World Championships medalwinners are now in relax mode, but there are still 239 men who will conquer each-other in the modern stadium. 239 is the second best men’s field ever in Abu Dhabi with only ‘pre Olympic years’ 2015 and 2019 that had more men and more participants in general. Let’s zoom in to the most likely men for the final block.
Yung Wei Yang (TPE) is not world number one for nothing. Third in Tashkent recently, Olympic silver medallist last year in Tokyo, he will undoubtedly be the man to beat in Abu Dhabi. With the numbers 4, 6 and 8 in the world ranking, respectively, Jorre Verstraeten (BEL), Francisco Garrigos (ESP) and Temur Nozadze (GEO), we can expect a very tough tournament during which the outsiders could play the troublemakers.
In the absence of the tenors of the category and particularly the two Japanese, Abe and Maruyama, who offered us a beautiful final in Tashkent, the U66kg category remains very open. There are a lot of points to take and places in the ranking to consolidate. In this context, the presence of many European athletes among the top seeds seems to open the doors of the podium to the old continent. Recent father Bogdan Iadov is the number one seed U66kg.
U73kg the door is therefore wide open for the new generation. Giorgi Terashvili (GEO) for example, finished second at the recent World Junior Championships in Guayaquil. He is already the number one seed in Abu Dhabi. The silver medallist at the European Championships, Giovanni Esposito (ITA), or Arthur Margelidon (CAN), seventh in Tashkent and already a five-time grand slam medallist, will be the men to watch.
The U81kg category is undoubtedly a very competitive class. In Abu Dhabi, we will follow Sami Chouchi (BEL) carefully, in the shadow of his illustrious teammate Matthias Casse, resting after his world silver medal, and Frank De wit (NED), of whom we already know that he will not spare his efforts. For the rest of the troops, the games are open and no one can say who will be on the podium.
There are some top guys in the U90kg category. Beka Gviniashvili (GEO), first in Tbilisi in June, third in Budapest in July and winner in Zagreb, is the big favourite. Komronshokh Ustopiryon (TJK) could disrupt things, while Jesper Smink (NED) who started the season well with a win in Portugal before slowing the pace, and former world champion, Nemanja Majdov (SRB), are willing to show that they must always be counted on.
The Canadians are on a world tour. After the World Championships where they obtained four well deserved medals, here they are again in action. Shady Elnahas (CAN) is seeded number one, which gives him some advantage but just two places further on we find a certain Kyle Reyes (CAN). If that means nothing to you, it is the vice-world champion, for whom victory escaped by almost nothing. So it could be a fight at the top for the Canadians? Maybe but that will not be the opinion of Onise Saneblidze (GEO) or double world champion Nikoloz Sherazadishvili (ESP) who continues to try to find his way in his new category after a disappointing world championships. He could again face El Nahas, but only in the semi final.
There are some strong people in the heavyweights. Temur Rakhimov (TJK), Jur Spijkers (NED), Yakiv Khammo (UKR), Vladut Simionescu (ROU) and Johannes Frey (GER) have all already demonstrated their ability to throw and throw well. Ah yes, let's not forget the double Olympic champion Lukas Krpalek (CZE) who wants to forget his mistakes in Tashkent.