A total of 236 competitors representing 35 national delegations (134 men, 102 women) will fight on the 22nd and 23rd of November. While this tournament is not part of the Rio 2016 Olympic qualifications (which begins in May 2014), the high participation underlines the willingness of the world’s top judoka to prepare for the major events to come.
The heads of delegations were warmly welcomed by the International Judo Federation General Treasurer, Mr. Nasser Al Tamimi, who also represented the Judo Federation of the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Al Tamimi said: “Dear Judo friends, on behalf of the UAE Judo Federation, I would like to welcome you in Abu Dhabi. I wish you a very good stay in our beautiful city. Our organisation team is here to help you. I wish you all the best and good luck for the two upcoming days and once again, thank you for coming here.”
Mr. Vladimir Barta conducted the official draw of the competition, which took place today (Thursday) at 2:00 pm local time. Mr. Barta said: “It is the first time that we have rain in Abu Dhabi. Nevertheless, we are expecting very good judo throughout the next days of competition. During two days, we will focus on the World Judo Tour, before welcoming the veterans, for the Veterans World Judo Championship next week, which will also be held in Abu Dhabi. So far the organising committee did a fantastic job to deliver a top level event and we are totally confident that this Grand Prix will be one of the bests of this season.”
At the end of the draw, Mr. Juan Carlos Barcos, the IJF Refereeing Director, commented the important meeting that took place a few weeks ago, right after the Junior World Championships, which were held in Slovenia. Mr. Barcos said: “The day after the Junior Worlds, we had an important meeting concerning the refereeing rules. All concerned commissions, like refereeing, sports, education and athletes commissions were involved. Based on what we have learned since we have implemented the modified rules, last January, we have set up the definitive refereeing rules that will be applied from January 2014 on and up to Rio 2016. In January, seminars will be held on all continents to explain those rules.”
List of the participating countries:
Algeria, Angola, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, China, Cameroon, Croatia, Spain, France, Great Britain, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mongolia, Mozambique, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Switzerland, Sweden, United Arab Emirate, United States of America, Uzbekistan.
In the women’s -48kg category, 12 athletes will compete during the first day of competition. The top seeded athlete is the surprising Rio world champion, URANTSETSEG Munkhbat, from Mongolia. Also winner of the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix this season, the 23-year-old athlete will try to add one more title to her prize list. The other potential winners and medallists will be the winner of the European Open Rome 2013, Valentina MOSCATT (ITA), the silver medallist of the Pan American Open San Salvador 2013, Amelie ROSSENEU (BEL) and the winner of the last Qingdao Grand Prix, Alesya KUZNETSOVA (RUS). Only 18 years old, the two-time French 1st division national Champion, Amandine BUCHARD, will be a good outsider, as well as her teammate, Scarlett GABRIELLI (FRA), who topped the podium in Rijeka, last September on the occasion of the first Grand Prix in Croatia.
Only fifth, a few weeks ago in Qingdao, world number six, Andreea CHITU (ROU), will try to reach a better place in Abu Dhabi. The three other top seeded athletes are, Laura GOMEZ (ESP), winner of the Mediterranean Games, Mersin 2013, Mareen KRAEH (GER), bronze medallist in Rio and winner of the Rijeka Grand Prix and the record holder of the number of medals obtained in international events, Ilse HEYLEN (BEL). Louise RENICKS (GBR), who stepped on two times on the podium in Apia (oceania) and Port Louis (Mauritius) during the past weeks, the bronze medallist of the World Championships 2010, MUNKHBAATAR Bundmaa (MGL) or the recent winner of the 1st division French National Championship and 2011 European champion Penelope BONNA (FRA), are among the good outsiders of the category.
The standout of the category is Miryam ROPER (GER). Bronze medallist in Rio, last August, she also won the Baku Grand Slam, the Moscow Grand Slam and the Rijeka Grand Prix this year. She will try once again the get the gold medal in Abu Dhabi to increase her position in the World Ranking List (3). Tina ZELTNER (AUT), bronze medallist at the Samsun Grand Prix, Telma MONTEIRO (POR), three times World silver medallist and the silver medallist of the London Olympic Games, Corina CAPRIORIU (ROU), will try to block the German’s fantastic progression.
After a long break following her silver medal at the World Championships, Rio 2013, Clarisse AGBEGNENOU will be the ultimate favourite of the competition in the women’s -63kg division. Bronze medal on the occasion of the last Junior World Championships, BALDORJ Mungunchimeg, could represent the future generation of champions for Mongolia. The more experienced Anicka VAN EMDEN (NED) and Hannah MARTIN (USA) also have good chances to reach the podium.
For sure, world number one Kim POLLING (NED) came to Abu Dhabi to get some more World Ranking List points and to show that she is definitely the leader of the category since Olympic and World Champion, Lucie DECOSSE (FRA), retired after the World Championships in Rio. In POOL B, the favourite will be the winner of the 2013 edition of the Samsun Grand Prix, Sally CONWAY (GBR), while in POOL C it will be the Austrian Bernadette GRAF, winner of the Moscow Grand Slam 2013, and in POOL D, the German Iljana MARZOK, winner of the Miami grand Prix this year.
It will be a good test for the World Number three, World Champion and Olympic Bronze medallist, Audrey TCHEUMEO (FRA), who is the top seeded athlete of the category. The other favourites of the competition will be the winner of the Tashkent Grand Prix, Ivana MARANIC (CRO), Anastasiya DMITRIEVA (RUS), who already won four medals this year on the occasion of World Judo Tour events (Samsun, Miam, Almaty, Qingdao) and the three time winner of Grand Prix bronze medals, Natalie POWELL (GBR).
The winner of last year’s edition of the Grand Prix, was the Frenchwoman Emilie ANDEOL. The story could be the same this year, as she is again the top seeded athlete of the category. To win again in Abu Dhabi, she will have to defeat Franziska KONITZ (GER), Jasmin KUELBS (GER) and Sarah ADLINGTON (GBR), who are the three other top seeded competitors.
The top seeded athlete of the category is the winner of last year’s edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Beslan MUDRANOV (RUS). But among the 19 engaged athletes, other big names came to the UAE to top the medal podium, the most important one being the Olympic champion himself, Arsen GALSTYAN (RUS), who will be the favourite of POOL C. The bronze medallist in Tashkent this year, Diego SANTOS (BRA), and the bronze medallist of the Paris World Championship 2011, Ilgar MUSHKIYEV (AZE), might also reach the podium.
In the men’s -66kg, World number 8, Mirzahid FARMONOV (UZB), will be the favourite of the competition. But it is quite complicated to determine who will step on the podium at the end of the first day of competition as many athletes have a good potential. Several times medal winner on the occasion of IJF top events, Colin OATES (GBR) might be among the best judoka, as well as the winner of the last Qingdao Grand Prix, Alim GADANOV (RUS), or the winner of last year’s edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Nijat SHIKHALIZADA (AZE).
The men’s -73kg category is another very open weight category as the top seeded athlete is world number 8, Mirali SHARIPOV (UZB). In POOL B, Pierre DUPRAT (FRA), European bronze medallist this year and recently crowned at the French national first division Championship, is a good alternative to the Olympic and World medallist, Ugo LEGRAND, who didn’t come to Abu Dhabi with the French delegation. Victor SCVORTOV (UAE) will try to defend the colour of the organising country in the POOL C. But, he might have to face the Olympic silver medallist, Miklos UNGVARI (HUN) in the quarter final. In POOL D, Rustam ORUJOV (AZE) will be the favourite, a good outsider being Emmanuel NARTEY (GHA).
Winner of the last Qingdao Grand Prix and world number 5, Sergiu TOMA (UAE), will be one of the best chances for gold of the organising country. But this will not be the idea of Travis STEVENS (USA), who won the gold in Tashkent a few weeks ago. Silver medallist in Kazan, last summer, on the occasion of the Universiade, Yakhyo IMAMOV (UZB), will try to reach a better position than the third place obtained in Tashkent. The fourth top seeded athlete is Sven MARESCH (GER), who won a promising silver medal in Qingdao at the end of October 2013.
22 athletes are engaged. The favourite of the men’s -90kg division is the Rio bronze medallist and Tyumen Masters silver medallist, Kirill DENISOV (RUS). In the semi-final he might be opposed to Marc ODENTHAL (GER), who won the bronze medal in Qingdao this year. In the second half of the draw, the two favourites are Grigorii SULEMIN (RUS) and the winner of the 2013 Baku Grand Slam, Shahin GAHRAMANOV (AZE)
2012 Asian champion and silver medallist in Tashkent last October, Ramziddin SAYIDOV (UZB) will be the favourite of the tournament in the men’s -100kg weight category. But in POOL A, he will have a serious contender, with the 28-year-old Russian fighter, Sergei SAMOILOVICH (RUS), who already won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, last year. In POOL B, the man to defeat will be the Olympic and World Championships bronze medallist Dimitri PETERS (GER). The POOL C will also be very interesting, as the quarter final might opposed Cyrille MARET (FRA), who does not hide his envy to become the next Olympic champion of the category and who also performed in the upper category on the occasion of the last French National Championship (gold in +100kg), and the 2007 World Champion, Luciano CORREA (BRA). The last favourite of the category will be Javad MAHJOUB (IRI), winner of the 2013 Moscow Grand Slam and of 2013 Asian Championship.
In the absence of the top players in the world, the +100kg is quite open. The favourites are the winner of the Tashkent Grand Prix, Andre BREITBARTH (GER), Dutch powerhouse Roy MEYER (NED), European u23 Championship bronze medallist a week ago Daniel NATEA (ROU) and Tashkent Grand Prix runner-up Boltoboy BALTAEV (UZB).
IJF Media & Communications Department
Mark Pickering, IJF Media Manager
Nicolas Messner, IJF Media Director