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Olympic champion Kelmendi ready for bumper 2019
22 Jan 2019 17:30
Rio 2016 Olympic champion and former world champion from Kosovo Majlinda Kelmendi returned to the IJF World Judo Tour in late 2018 with a silver medal at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and gold at the Tashkent Grand Prix. Kelmendi, 27, will be highly-active in 2019 now that’s she’s returned to full fitness and is edging closer to her title defense at Tokyo 2020.
The Kosovo hero will be expected to quickly move back up the rankings for her current position (15th) and will be intent on regaining the world title and her first since 2014.
Kosovo are playing their cards close to their chest and easing Kelmendi back into IJF World Judo Tour duty with the revered champion yet to register for any subsequent competitions.
Kelmendi would be expected to compete in Paris – a blockbuster event that helped her to make her name having won the French Grand Slam on four occasions – but competitions will come thick and fast in 2019 with Germany (Düsseldorf) hosting a Grand Slam in February and Russia (Ekaterinburg) hosting their IJF leg in March.
A dream match-up with world champion Abe Uta (JPN) could come to fruition as early as Germany with the Japanese starlet not included in her country’s team for Paris while Kelmendi will be expected to start in at least one of the IJF’s offerings in February.
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Esmay Van Klaveren (NED)