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First day of Grand Prix Tbilisi includes Georgian lightweight favourites
30 Mar 2018 05:05
Definitely the first day of the Grand Prix in Tbilisi will be attractive for the home crowd in Georgia to see their favourites in the men’s lightweight categories. U0kg Amiran Papinashvili is experienced and always among the favourites. If he can pick up the pace is the question, but the draw looks good for him. U66kg the crowd will look for Vazha Margevelashvili as eyecatcher.
Four-time Grand Prix winner Amiran Papinashvili (GEO) has never won Georgia’s leg of the IJF World Judo Tour with silver in 2017 and bronze in 2016 and a fifth-place in 2015. The former European champion will be first on the tatami for the hosts and could earn the best result at the three-day competition if he can get into his rhythm during the preliminaries. Düsseldorf Grand Slam bronze medallist Lukhumi Chkhvimiani (GEO) has outperformed his teammate Papinashvili in 2018 and starts day one as the defending champion from 2017. Two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist Chkhvimiani is chasing down his colleague on the ranking list and needs to win his second Grand Prix title to all but guarantee a place on the plane to the European Championships in April. Former World Judo Masters silver medallist Vincent Limare (FRA) has to pick up medals in 2018 on the IJF World Judo Tour if he has his sights on major honours in the sport and Tbilisi represents a perfect event for him to return to form.
World Judo Masters bronze medallist Vazha Margvelashvili (GEO) won his home Grand Prix in 2016 and has since won the European Championships and a second Grand Prix title. World number three Margvelashvili, 24, is by far the most lauded judoka in -66kg action this weekend and the ippons could flow for the Georgian star. Junior world champion Daniel Cargnin (BRA) is part of a new-look Brazilian team which is bursting with highly-touted youngsters. Pan American champion Osniel Solis (CUB) has not been able to duplicate his form from Pan America on the world stage and needs to find a remedy for that to keep his Olympic hopes alive.
One-time Grand Prix winner Milica Nikolic (SRB) starts the lightest weight category as the top seed as the world number six is the highest ranked -48kg judoka in the competition. The 23-year-old Serbian won the Zagreb Grand Prix back in 2016 and, having won bronze at the inaugural Düsseldorf Grand Slam last month, has a platform to launch a Grand Prix title bid in Georgia. The other Düsseldorf bronze medallist, Melanie Clement (FRA), will also compete on day one and needs to win IJF World Judo Tour gold for the first time to truly become France’s number one at U48kg. London 2012 Olympic champion Sarah Menezes (BRA) is back down at -48kg after spending the 2017 season campaigning at U52kg and will hope to rediscover her medal-winning form.
Paris Grand Slam silver medallist Amandine Buchard (FRA) looks set for a full Olympic cycle settled in the U52kg category. Since fading away in the Rio 2016 cycle the 22-year-old former U48kg judoka has only fought in the U52kg category and is now in the best form of her career. The world number three has medalled at her last three IJF events (Tokyo bronze, Masters silver, Paris silver) for a bumper World Ranking List points haul, and will be targeting a fourth Grand Prix victory on Friday. World number 13 Angelica Delgado (USA) has won two Grand Prix bronze medals and the Rio 2016 Olympian knows the importance of starting to regularly win medals outside of Pan America. Former Junior World Championships silver medallist Mariam Janashvili (GEO) will be among the home judoka to look out for on day one. The 22-year-old has been given a handful of starts by her country at the senior level and has finished fifth and seventh at Georgia’s Grand Prix.
World number four Helene Receveaux (FRA) makes her second IJF World Judo Tour appearance in 2018 this weekend. World bronze medallist Receveaux finished fifth at home in Paris and will be confident of returning to winning ways in Georgia with realistic ambitions of winning a third Grand Prix title. Former world bronze medallist Sanne Verhagen (NED) missed the 2017 season through injury and has suffered early exits at her two competitions in 2018 in Düsseldorf and Ekaterinburg. The Dutchwoman could turn the corner this weekend with a medal in Georgia and with a ranking of 71 in the world will be unseeded but highly-dangerous. Agadir Grand Prix winner Timna Nelson Levy (ISR), The Hague Grand Prix silver medallist Theresa Stoll (GER), Tashkent Grand Prix winner Anna Borowska (POL) and u23 European Championships winner Amelie Stoll (GER) will all be seeded with Europe set to have a stranglehold of the category in Tbilisi.
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