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New dynamics spice up heavyweight category
22 Jun 2019 17:05
The 2015 edition of the European Games in Baku was won by Dutchman Henk Grol in the final against Lukas Krpalek. In fact not many people remember it was U100kg. Both big boys stepped up rather easily to this level and again reached the highest level in the plus category. In fact it also made their life much easier. No more health problems, dropping weight, days of frustration, the body that protests against so many sacrifices.
Now as a heavyweight they just have to gain weight to fight the opposition. But they also brought in more speed and the current modern heavyweight has speed, is flexible, can drift and throw. The dynamics of the +100kg category changed tremendously and with Guram Tushishvili a typical attractive and dynamical athlete won the world title. Good for judo, for the fans and naming these names we included a couple of medal candidates for these 2019 European Games in Minsk
Old school heavyweights
Not to mention Cyrille Maret who won bronze in 2015 and also tried the heavyweights but is this time back U100kg. The winner of the heavyweight category was Adam Okruashvili (GEO), old style heavyweight. Also medallists Ori Sasson and Renat Saidov have difficulties to get to the same level or even quite that attempt. Maybe Sasson will not fight in Minsk either.
Grol and Krpalek were also on the podium in Tel Aviv last year at the Europeans, the Czech took the gold and also this year Krpalek captured a few medals in Antalya and Hohhot but is vulnerable. World Champion Tushishvili was suspended for a few month by the IJF caused by a non-judo event but came back with gold at the European Open, another level but okay.
Without Tushishvili there is a big division ‘best of the rest’. Obviously former Georgian teammate Ushangi Kokauri who took silver in the worlds is among the rest. He won bronze in Paris, which is in fact pretty good. Smaller judoka like Levani Matiashvili, Iakiv Khammo, Tamerlan Bashaev, Roy Meyer added another dimension. They can throw, they are fast and hard to topple.
A medal contender will be Inal Tasoev, he showed his great skills over the last two years and is able to win of the best. He simply destroyed Krpalek in 5 seconds in Abu Dhabi last year, but the Czech took revenge in Antalya this year. This Grand Prix was won by Roy Meyer who is in fact fighting Henk Grol for a spot in Tokyo. We remember Meyer giving Tushishvili the hardest contest of the World Championships.
Also Stephan Hegyi, same generation as Tasoev, is a medal candidate. The Austrian was a bit unlucky but comes closer each event. Maybe not yet capable of winning the gold in Minsk, but we count him in for the final block.
Outsiders can be Germany’s Johannes Frey. At home in Düsseldorf he showed his skills. With a home advantage Aliaksandr Vakhaviak may surprise in Minsk and also Romanian Vladut Simionescu is capable of winning a European medal.
The last contests of the European Games will be thrilling. Without Riner the field came closer but also gave new insights and opportunities.
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Richard Murphy (GBR)
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