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Grand Prix Tashkent starts with World and Olympic medallists
5 Oct 2017 17:35
The IJF World Judo Tour has arrived in Asia for the second senior event following the 2017 Suzuki World Judo Championships as Uzbekistan takes centre stage this weekend with the fifth edition of the Tashkent Grand Prix.
Judo provided Uzbekistan’s first Olympic medal at Atlanta 1996 when Armen Bagdasarov, now Judo Federation of Uzbekistan President, took silver in the U86kg weight category and so the sport not only has a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of Uzbekistan but it has become a consistent source of medals, success and international acclaim.
The first day we will see some action with medal chances for Uzbekistan.
World silver medallist Munkhbat Urantsetseg (MGL) is the number one seed in the women’s lightest weight category and will be expected to maintain Mongolia’s momentum from the 2017 Suzuki World Judo Championships where they won a record haul of six medals. World number five Milica Nikolic (SRB) finished fifth at the Worlds and could win her second Grand Prix title if she can finish her competition day undefeated on Friday. European bronze medallist Csernoviczki Eva (HUN) and Belgrade European Open silver medallist Kelly Staddon (GBR) will also be among the medal contenders.
London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Charline Van Snick (BEL) has prepared for the Tashkent Grand Prix by training in Paris. Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Van Snick moved up from -48kg to -52kg a year ago and medals have been hard to come by. The Belgian starts as the top seed and should achieve her best result to date at -52kg. Former World Judo Masters silver medallist Adiyasambuu Tsolmon (MGL) will be tipped to enter the medal equation while Antalya Grand Prix bronze medallist Ariel BEZALEL (ISR) will be bidding for her second medal at this level.
Former European Championships bronze medallist Timna Nelson Levy (ISR) starts with the top billing as the highest ranked judoka in the -57kg category in Tashkent. The world number 15 is one of the latest talents from the Israeli production line and the 23-year-old is poised to have an increased presence on the IJF World Judo Tour as she prepares to start her Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification bid next year. Sevara Nishanbayeva (KAZ) took bronze in Tashkent a year ago and could achieve a similar result this time around but the fate of the -57kg title in Uzbekistan will rest largely with the performance of 37-year-old veteran Sabrina Filzmoser (AUT).
Asian Championships bronze medallist Mukhriddin Tilovov (UZB) shone at the 2017 Suzuki World Judo Championships in August with a hard-fought fifth-place finish as he lost to teammate and Olympic bronze medallist Diyorbek Urozboev for bronze. Paris Grand Slam silver medallist Sharafuddin Lutfillaev (UZB) is a three-time Grand Prix gold medallist but has only won once at home and that may change on day one in Tashkent. Former Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Vugar Shirinli (AZE) will be hopeful of challenging for a first Grand Prix medal since his lone bronze medal in Samsun, Turkey, back in 2013.
World number seven Baruch Shmailov (ISR) is the top seed in the -66kg category and is in a prime position to win his first Grand Prix title. The 23-year-old is an owner of two Grand Prix silver medals and one bronze but has upped his performance level in 2017 as he finished just short of honours at the European Championships. Tasked with stopping the Israeli from opening his Grand Prix gold medal count are judoka such as Ganbold Kherlen (MGL) who has captured an Asian Championships bronze medal since stepping up a weight at the end of last year. The Mongolian has three-time Grand Slam bronze medallist and world number 10 Dovdon Altansukh (MGL) for company along with 21-year-old Ekaterinburg Grand Slam bronze medallist Dzmitry Minkou (BLR).
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