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European Judo Championships Preview U90kg: Clerget and Kukolj in shape
19 Apr 2017 12:05
What a year it has been so far for Axel Clerget of France. At the age of 30 he is still one of the favourites for the European Championships gold medal in Warsaw U90kg. The Frenchman would normally get heavy competition of Alexandre Iddir, but so far Clerget is the man. Varlam Liparteliani left this category but gave us back Beka Gviniashvili. No space for Tchrikishvili yet in this category, but he will come soon this year. Clerget was the most appealing European so far this year.
Clerget won silver at the Grand Prix in Jeju in 2015 and silver at the Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi and Grand Slam in Tokyo in 2016. Clerget won the World Cups in Liverpool, Casablanca and Minsk. In 2009 he won bronze at the Grand Slam in Paris. Clerget won the European Cups in Boras, Sarajevo and Orenburg. He won bronze at the Grand Slam in Baku in 2016. He won silver at the Grand Slam in Paris in 2017 and gold at the European Open in Lisbon.
Another coming man is Serbian Aleksandar Kukolj. Perhaps even more motivated by the internal competition in Serbia with Nemanja Majdov in his new category, Kukoljs performance only got better. After his gold medal at the Grand Slam in Tokyo, he also took bronze in Antalya. Kukolj won the Grand Slam of Abu Dhabi in 2016 as well.. Kukolj started with bronze in 2016 in Havana and silver at the Grand Prix in Baku and silver the Grand Prix Samsun in 2015 and Zagreb in 2014. Kukolj won World Cups in Lisbon in 2012 and won the Panam Open in San Salvador in 2014 & Mediterranean Games in 2013. He won European bronze as Junior and U23.
Slovenian Michael Zgank is another rival in this category. He took bronze medals in Paris and Dusseldorf which resulted in lots of points, enough for a good seed in Warsaw.
Zgank won bronze medals at European Junior and U23 Championships. In 2015 he won the European Open in Cluj. He won the Continental Cups in Celje, Belgrade and and Taipei in 2015. Zgank won a bronze medal at the Grand Prix in Tashkent in 2015 and silver at Grand Prix Budapest in 2016. He won silver at the African Open in Tunis in 2017. This year won bronze at the Grand Slam in Paris in 2017 and at the GP Düsseldorf.
Last but not least Khusen Khalmurzaev of Russia might take over the European title of his brother, but now U90kg. His road to the senior category went well with various victories in the youth but suddenly he is a world player. Khusen Khalmurzaev won the European Junior title twice in 2011 and 2012. He won silver in 2011 at the World Junior Championships. The twinbrother of Khasan won his first Grand Prix medal in 2013 in Almaty. Grand Slam bronze in Tyumen in 2015 and silver in 2016. In 2016 he won the Grand Prix Samsun. He won silver at the Grand Prix in Düsseldorf in 2017.
CLERGET Axel (FRA) 1. seed (2. place WRL)
KUKOLJ Aleksandar (SRB) 2. seed (3. place WRL)
ZGANK Mihael (SLO) 3. seed (8. place WRL)
KHALMURZAEV Khusen (RUS) 4. seed (10. place WRL)
GVINIASHVILI Beka (GEO) 5. seed (11. place WRL)
MEHDIYEV Mammadali (AZE) 6. seed (12. place WRL)
STEWART Max (GBR) 7. seed (17. place WRL)
VAN 'T END Noel (NED) 8. seed (22. place WRL)
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Li Yang (CHN)
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