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Grand Prix Düsseldorf important test for Russian team
18 Feb 2016 10:05
The Grand Prix in Düsseldorf will be an important test for the Russian team. Some of the big names are competing in Germany this weekend and it’s the return of Natalia Kuziutina. She didn’t fight since the World Championships in Astana where she finished seventh. The Russian women 'were not successful at the Olympic Games in London and now they are warming up for the Games in Rio. In Düsseldorf we will see their status and capabilities.
From the women’s team Irina Dolgova fought last week and is missing in Düsseldorf but further all top women are present in Düsseldorf. The Russian team won three gold medals in Düsseldorf only and Kuziutina was the only woman with gold in 2014.
In the men’s team a few are still missing ranked in the World Ranking top 10: Dennis Iartcev (U73), Kamal Khan-Magomedov (U66), Alan Kubetsvov (U81) and Ivan Nifontov (U81).
Arsen Galstyan (U60kg), Mansur Isaev (U73kg) and Tagir Khaibulaev (U100kg) were Russia’s heroes at London 2012 as they all won gold to send their country to the top of the judo medal table and the star trio will all compete in Dusseldorf.
World number 27 Galstyan moved up to the U66kg category in 2015 and has won Grand Prix medals and a Grand Slam silver (Abu Dhabi) in his new weight but is still yet to top a -66kg podium which has seen him on the periphery for his country while world number four Mikhail Pulyaev and world number eight Kamal-Khan Magomedov are leading the race for Rio.
World number 68 Mansur Isaev has stayed in the U73kg category and has struggled to rediscover his form. Isaev has won two medals from his 12 international competitions since London and has not won a medal in his last seven events. Russia’s leading contenders in the -73kg category for Rio are world number six Denis Iartcev and world number 11 Musa Mogushkov.
World number 19 Tagir Khaibulaev has been the best performer of Russia’s Olympic three champions since London and is the most likely to be defending their title at Rio 2016. Khaibulaev has been in medal contention in the majority of his IJF World Judo Tour events and has won the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in this cycle. The veteran champion has to keep pace with world number 13 Adlan Bisultanov and both judoka will compete in Dusseldorf.
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Tim Pahor (SLO)
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