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The 5 biggest male judo breakthroughs of 2018
27 Dec 2018 15:35
Who are the ten groundbreaking talents who really emerged this year, at any level? We closely watched judoka born from 1998 onwards. Some of the most absolutely amazing stars of this year, such as Sherazadishvili, Igolnikov or Gjakova had already experienced their breakthroughs, but nonetheless had their best year ever and are expected to develop further.
Even if all of the below judoka will be well-known to us in the near future, it is worthwhile to list them in this top selection. We also took 5 different countries.
Inal Tasoev (RUS)
Russian heavyweight Inal Tasoev became Junior World Champion in Zagreb in 2017 and claimed the Grand Slam of Abu Dhabi in a spectacular four seconds contest against Lukas Krpalek. He had already won the Grand Prix in Antalya this year. He had a significant influence in the team event of the World Team Championships where the Russian team took bronze. It is very likely that he will be the future pick as Russian heavyweight despite all the competition.
Stephan Hegyi (AUT)
Tasoev knows Austrian Stephan Hegyi very well as they battled a few times in major events. The Austrian talent took his second silver medal at the Junior World Championships and took silver at the Grand Prix in Budapest this year. Despite his fondness for silverware, he claimed a bronze medal at the senior European Championships, another statement, and it is fair to say that he is knocking on the door at the senior level.
Gela Zaalishvili (GEO)
You cannot deny the abundance of big talent in the heavyweights. Yes, the competition maybe smaller in number compared to other categories, but this year Georgian super talent Gela Zaalishvili won the 2018 Junior world title in Nassau as well as the European Junior title. He finished with bronze at the European U23s.
Bilal Ciloglu (TUR)
Building on last year’s silver World Junior medal, Turkish judoka Bilal Ciloglu continued his success and won gold this year in Nassau. Ciloglu won European Championships bronze in 2018 in Tel Aviv. One of the best Turkish male talents ever, he won the Grand Prix of Agadir in March in a loaded class U73kg. He is busy with a major breakthrough and continuation of the success in his youth.
Zelim Kotsoiev (AZE)
Very likely Zelim Kotsoiev could have prolonged his Junior world title this year at the Bahamas, but he was ill and cancelled. The Azeri still won the Grand Prix of Antalya and captured bronze at the European Championships in a very competitive category U100kg. This is exactly the reason we have to wait until he gets grip at senior level, but the bronze in Tel Aviv promised a lot.
We will publish the five female breakthroughs soon
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Antonio Ernesto (ITA)