IJF TOUR FINALE SET TO STUN

Guangzhou Masters Preview 2018

The much anticipated, final IJF tour event of the year will commence on the 15th of December. Guangzhou, China, will be the host to the highest ranked world athletes as they set out to compete for the number one ranked position. 

Day one will see the lightweight men and women take to the tatami, our European representatives dominating the categories. 

Notably missing from the line up will be the youngest World Champion, Daria BILODID (UKR), leaving the -48kg category open. The highest ranked European competitor will be Irina DOLGOVA of Russia. DOLGOVA will have the opportunity to make last years Master’s silver in St Petersburg a gold in China, with a successful history against the #1 seed, MUNKHBAT Urantsetseg (MGL). 

After a tremendous performance last week at the European Club Championships, Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) looked unstoppable and will head the -52kg category as the World #2 seed, closely followed by the #3 seed, Natalia KUZIUTINA (RUS). In 2017, BUCHARD lost out to KUZIUTINA in the final of the same event, as well as the European and World Championships in 2017, could this be the year the French woman changes the dynamic and takes the win? 

Though all of the weight categories will be tough and a gold medallist difficult to foresee, the -57kg category looks to be the least predictable. The women’s category is very diverse, an even mix of tour veterans and young blood will be present on the first day of competition. Theresa STOLL (GER) has soared up the World ranking list to be the 5th seed of the tournament, most recently taking the gold medal in the Tashkent Grand Prix.

Sitting just above STOLL is Great Britain’s Nekoda SMYTHE-DAVIS, who seems to be going from strength to strength in this Olympic qualifying period, already acquiring two World medals and joining the Europa League Champions, Red Star Club De Champigny. 

There will be many greatly anticipated contests but perhaps none more than in the -63kg category. Though a comfortable amount of points ahead in the world ranking, triple World Champion, Clarisse AGBEGNENOU (FRA) will be looking to widen the gap between herself and the #2 seed, Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO). 

As if the women’s categories weren’t exciting enough on their own, the dynamic lightweight men will be adding to the talent pool, the top three seeds in the -60kg category all representing Europe.

Amiran PAPINASHVILI (GEO) and Robert MSHVIDOBADZE (RUS) sit as the top two, the latter winning their semi final contest in the World Championships earlier this year in Baku. With a mere 200 points between the two, the Georgian will be looking to remain ahead in this race and make up for missing out on the World Championship final. The #3 seed, Fran GARRIGOS (ESP) was Masters silver medallist in 2017 and with Grand Slam medals under his belt this year, he has the potential to take the gold. 

The Georgian men’s team remain at the top of the seeding in the -66kg category. Vazha MARGVELASHVILI just last week took the Europa League by storm with his newly formed team, Golden Gori, warming up for this highly esteemed tournament. Following closely behind are Israeli team mates, European bronze medallist Tal FLICKER and Baruch SHMAILOV, who took a bronze medal in this event in 2017. 

To depth of talent continues in the Georgian team, Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI is the highest ranked European representative in the -73kg category, coming in as #2 to HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) and sitting just above current World Champion, AN Changrim. Coming in as #4 seed is Tommy MACIAS of Sweden, bronze medallist in the Masters tournament last year. With a string of successes in this Olympic qualifying period, a number of Grand Slam medals and a European bronze to his name, MACIAS will be coming in confident in Guangzhou to better his result.

By Thea Cowen

Events


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