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Rio2016 Olympic Judo Preview women U78kg

11 Aug 2016 10:05


Brazil is looking forward to that thrilling match. That match between current Olympic Champion Kayla Harrison and Brazilian pride Mayra Aguiar, the 2014 World Champion. Actually no one is talking about the opposition, just about that encounter with a current score of 9-8 for Harrison. At 11 August Brazil will either explode or suffer. A huge expectation ad pressure for Mayra Aguiar.

Aguiar is World Champion 2014 in Chelyabinsk U78kg and bronze medallist in 2013. She won the World Junior title in 2010 in Agadir and is the longest in the team. She won Olympic Games bronze in London 2012. She won bronze at the World Championships in 2011 in Paris. In 2016 Aguiar won the Grand Slam in Paris beating Harrison, but Harrison got her back twice.

Kayla Harrison is World and Olympic judo Champion from the USA. She won the World title in 2010 in Tokyo and won bronze in 2011 and 2014. She was Pan American Championships and Games Champion in 2011 and 2015 and won the Grand Slam Tokyo in 2015 and Masters in 2016 in Guadalajara. She is determined, she is Kayla. The athlete who talks with world leaders, who’s on the cover of Sports Illustrated, with ambitions to follow her teammate Ronda Rousey and the one who will bite of her tongue for another Olympic medal and then perhaps retire from judo and make some money elsewhere.

Japanese world champion Mami Umeki claimed the world title in 2015 in Astana at the age of 20. Umeki fights U78kg and won the World Junior Championships U20 in 2011 in Cape Town. She won the Kodokan Cup in Chiba in 2014. She won bronze at the Grand Slam in Baku in 2016.

Audrey Tcheumeo won Olympic bronze in 2012 in London. She became World Champion 2011 in Paris, took silver in 2014 and bronze in 2013. Tcheumeo won European and World team titles with France. Two European Junior and Senior Championships and European U23 title. Won the Grand Slams of Paris (twice) and Tokyo.

Marhinde Verkerk is 2009 World Champion and 2015 European Games winner. She ranked 5th at the Olympic Games. Verkerk won silver at the 2013 World Championships in Rio and completed all colours in 2015 in Astana with bronze after an injury. She won Grand Slam gold in Abu Dhabi and Grand Prix Tbilisi in 2016.

German Luise Malzahn belongs to the world class athletes U78kg. Malzahn won World Championships bronze in 2015 in Astana. She won two European medals and multiple German titles similar to her sister Claudia. Junior World medal in 2009 but the senior medal and Olympic medal are yet to achieve.

British Natalie Powell won the Grand Prix in Astana in 2014 U78kg over 10 Grand Prix medals. One of her highlights was the victory at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Powell won the Grand Prix Tashkent in 2015. Bronze at the Grand Slam in Paris in 2016 and Grand Prix in Tbilisi in 2016.


Abigel Joo (HUN) started 2016 with gold at the Grand Prix Havana. She is double European champion in 2010 and 2012. As only one, she took 4 European titles U23 and 3 Junior European titles and 2 World Junior bronze medals. In 2013 Joo won the Universiade in Kazan. She tore her ligaments at the 2012 Olympic Games but was in a winning shape. Sometimes she has those days and 11 August can be such as day again.

Kyong Sol of North Korea became World Champion 2013 in Rio de Janeiro. She won a bronze medal at the Grand Prix in Tashkent in 2015. She won bronze at the Grand Prix in Samsun in 2016. In total 3 World Cup victories, so you don’t see her often and booked in form, but DPR Korea always have a few surprises.

Vice World champion 2015 Ana Velensek took silver in Astana in 2015 U78kg. Velensek won various major world level events. World Junior and European U23 Championships medallist and bronze winner with Slovenia at the European Games. Velensek won the World Military Games in 2015. Velensek recently got injured on her knee seriously at the training camp in Castelldefels in July, so we cannot expect her to be fit for the Games.

Seeded athletes paired

Harrison with Umeki (Purevjarja/Joo)

Verkerk (Castillo) with Velensek (Turks)

Tcheumeo (Sol) with Powell

Aguiar with Malzahn

Former Olympic Champions





Kayla Harrison (USA)



Xiuli Yang (CHN)



Noriko Anno (JPN)



Ling Tang (CHN)



Europe is struggling with U78kg gold. Asia won an Olympic title in each category since the weight changes in 1998 and have been dominating the categories U60kg, U52kg, U78 and +78kg. Europe lacks three Olympic titles to complete the 14 divisions: U52kg, now with World Ranking leader Majlinda Kelmendi, +78kg with strong Asians and U78kg. Again the Pan American judoka are favourite for the Olympic title U78kg. Frequently named Olympic Champion Kayla Harrison and Home favourite Mayra Aguiar are eachothers frenemies in this category. 

Related judoka and events

Related Judo Photos

  • Kayla Harrison (USA) - IJF World Masters Guadalajara (2016, MEX) - © JudoHeroes
  • Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA) - 2016 Olympic Games day 6 Judo U100kg & U78kg (2016, BRA) - © JudoHeroes
  • Luise Malzahn (GER) - 2016 Olympic Games day 6 Judo U100kg & U78kg (2016, BRA) - © JudoHeroes

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Judo birthday

Result City Date
1The Hague2018
Result City Date
1Tel Aviv2018


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