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Korea vs 41 hungry Italians at European Open Rome
17 Feb 2017 20:35
An Baul is likely attract the most attention at this weekend’s European Open in Rome. The Korean World Champion and Olympic finalist leads the seeding list at U66kg among 51 men. Italian Fabio Basile took the Olympic title in this category in Rio, but Basile is still enjoying his post Olympic rest period, and he’s right. Without Korean An Chang-rim, perhaps Guillaume Chaine (FRA) will be the man to beat at U73kg. So, the first day in Rome, the Korean judoka will likely set the tone.
On the second day, more Italian success is expected, especially at U81kg, where Matteo Marconcini is stepping back on the tatami. The Olympic Games fifth place finisher had a remarkable late qualification for Rio and surprised the world with excellent judo. Seven months later, he is back in Rome in the weight category where Antonio Esposito recently took the Italian title. The former World Junior Champion (U73kg) is unseeded, but is performing well and may be one of the top challengers out of 46 men this weekend, with Sven Maresch in his last international event as judoka. Also, Benjamin Muennich (GER), Hong (KOR) and opposition from France, Holland, and perhaps Pan America will make things interesting.
World Champion Gwak Donghan is by far the favourite U90kg. With Alexandre Iddir coming back at his previous level of competitiveness, Loic Pietri in a new weight category, and the always dangerous Mikhail Igolnikov it maybe a surprising outcome for the other medals. In U100kg, the Koreans will again mingle but Benjamin Fletcher is first seeded as number 29 in the rankings. Despite the strong Korean entries, it is typical for this European Open in Rome. Relatively small heavyweights Lurii Krakovetskii and Daniel Allerstorfer are the highest seeded in Rome; let’s see if they are at the top of the podium on late Sunday afternoon.
Although there are only a few top athletes, the large field in each weight will certainly make this European Open an interesting event. Follow the competition in Rome this weekend with strong entries from Korea and France pitted against 41 hungry Italians.
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