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Preview U70kg Tashkent: Open division without domination

Preview U70kg Tashkent: Open division without domination

10 Oct 2022 04:05
by JudoCrazy and JudoInside - Hans van Essen / judo news, results and photos

The U70kg division is full of famous names like reigning World Champion Barbara Matic, former European Champion Sanne Van Dijke, Asian Games Champion Saki Niizoe, and the two French players, Margaux Pinot and Eve Marie Gahie.

World Champion Barbara Matic can defend her title U70kg on day 5 with Kelly Petersen (8 seed) in her pool but also Anna Bernholm who is back after a long while. Dutch promise Hilder Jager is eager to shine and Gulza Matinyazova (UZB) will also mingle for a place in the quarters. On the other side of the table recent world number one Sanne van Dijke (NED) in a pool with Yeats-Brown. Pinot with Croatia’s surprise Cvjetko and Gaby Willems (BEL). Sagi Niizoe is non seeded and in the pool with former world champion Gahie, smashing! Double Junior world champion Ai Tsunoda with Michaela Polleres. It’s a record of 44 women in this division, more than any weight category.

They have fought and lost to each other, and there is no clear, dominant player. In the past two years, Matic has lost to Niizoe (twice) and Pinot. Niizoe has lost to Pinot. Van Dijke has lost her last match to Gahie. Pinot has lost to Gahie and Van Dijke. Gahie, meanwhile has lost to Van Dijke and Niizoe.

Few have heard of Shiho Tanaka, who is ranked No. 21. But she is the top Japanese in Tashkent, having won the trials. Her teammate, Niizoe, who is also competing in Tashkent, ranks higher at 12. Ironically, the Japanese player with the highest ranking, Yoko Ono at No. 3, is the one not going to Tashkent.

Little-known Tanaka has had a good track record lately against the top guns in this weight class and she has not been beaten by any of them. She defeated Van Dijke at the 2022 Tel Aviv Grand Slam, Pinot at the 2022 Tel Aviv Grand Slam, and Gahie at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. She has never fought Matic. Plenty of other big names in this division with Olympic silver medallist Michaela Polleres (AUT), homeplayer Gulnoza Matniyazova and Spanish Junior World Champion Ai Tsunoda who’s on form.