HOHHOT PROVES DIFFICULT BEGINNING FOR OLYMPIC HOPEFULS

Grand Prix Hohhot 2018

The opening day of the Hohhot Grand Prix brought excitement, tension and an indicator of just how difficult the process of Olympic qualification can be. In the -48kg category London 2012 Olympic champion Sarah MENEZES (BRA) and Rio 2016 silver medal winner JEONG Bo Kyeong (KOR) both crashed out in the opening round whilst current world number for Milicia NIKOLIC (SRB) went out in round two (that after a first round bye). For the visiting European athletes only Shira RISHONY (ISR) managed to find her way to the podium, picking up a bronze medal.

It was even worse in the -52kg where only one of the top eight seeds managed to take a medal (that being number two seed ABE Uta (JPN) who won the gold). Astride GNETO (FRA), Evelyne TSCHOPP (SUI), PUPP Reka (HUN) and Betina TEMEKOVA (ISR) all began the day in the top eight yet only unseeded Ana PEREZ BOX (ESP) was able to battle her way through to a bronze medal.

The carnage was complete in the -57kg where the current Olympic champion Rafaela SILVA (BRA) went tumbling out in round two. The best that could be achieved for Europe was a 5th place snapped up by KARAKAS Hedwig (HUN) who is looking to qualify for her third Olympics. The number one seed at the start of the day, Timna NELSON LEVY (ISR) ended up in 7th place.

In the -60kg Albert OGUZOV (RUS) was the one bright spark for the Europeans as he took a bronze medal. Team mate and number one seed, Robert MSHVIDOBADZE (RUS), ended up in 5th place.

But the best placing of the day for the Europeans was achieved by number three seed Mikhail PULIAEV (RUS) who won a silver medal losing out in the final of the -66kg category to MARUYAMA Joshiro (JPN).

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