ODIVELAS INITIATES THE EUROPEAN JUDO CALENDAR

Odivelas European Open

Following a phenomenal Grand Prix in Tel Aviv, the European Judo Union will be kick starting their calendar in both Odivelas, Portugal, for the men and Sofia, Bulgaria, for the women. 

Pavilhão Multiusos de Odivelas will play host to the men’s premier event over the 2nd and 3rd of February with over 200 athletes in attendance. 

Day one will welcome the light weight competitors in the -60kg, -66kg and -73kg categories. In the -66kg category, Kilian LE BLOUCH (FRA) uses both his talent and his experience on the tatami to take him on to the podium time and time again, his greatest success in 2018 was the Antalya Grand Prix, taking the bronze medal.

One to watch in the -73kg category is Nils STUMP (SUI). Last year the 21 year-old took a convincing bronze in the Tbilisi Grand Prix and took to the World Tour stage last week in Tel Aviv. Though STUMP narrowly missed out on the bronze medal, the Swiss athlete showed his strength against Osaka Grand Slam bronze medallist, Tommy MACIAS (SWE) for a place in quarter final as well as many other highly ranked athletes. 

Day two welcomes the remaining weight categories to the arena, firstly, the -81kg men. Saarbrucken and Bratislava European Cup gold medallist, Stuart MCWATT (GBR) is the #1 seed in this category.

Great Britain continue to rule the seeding in this tournament in the -90kg weight class, Max STEWART topping the table. With a plethora of European Open successes, and a Grand Prix gold medal from Qingdao, STEWART comes in confident for his first tournament of the year. STEWART’s team mate, Jamal PETGRAVE is the #2 seed, and could potentially see a GBR final for the -90kg category. Junior athlete PETGRAVE proved his talents in 2018 on multiple occasions, taking silver in the Celje Podcetrtek and Orenburg European Cup, as well as a bronze on his home turf in the European Open in Glasgow. The 21 year-old also battled through some tough opponents to take the silver medal in the U23 European Championships in November. 

The focus shifts to the East as we move in to the heavier weights, the Russian competitors outnumbering the other seeded nations in the -100kg. Niiaz BILALOV is the #1 seed, and a known athlete on the international circuit, boasting numerous Grand Prix and Grand Slam medals, last year alone taking the gold in the Cancun Grand Prix and bronze in the Dusseldorf Grand Slam. The young Russian missing out on a bronze medal in the Tel Aviv European Championships against home favourite, Pater PALTCHIK (ISR).

Fellow Russian athlete, Merab MARGIEV, comes in at #3. MARGIEV took a silver medal this time last year when the men’s event was in Sofia, Bulgaria, now hosting the women. He shone in Georgia in the Tbilisi Grand Prix, taking the silver medal, but was not so fortunate in Budapest, though he came up against and beat the current European Champion, Toma NIKIFOROV (BEL), he was defeated in his bronze contest by Jevgenijs BORODAVKO (LAT), the #2 seed in Odivelas. 

BORODAVKO, Junior European Champion and Junior World Champion, is no stranger to success, taking a bronze in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and Budapest Grand Prix in 2018. There is potential for a rematch between the Latvian heavyweight and MARGIEV. 

The highest seeded athlete for Europe in the +100kg category is Nabil ZALAGH of France. ZALAGH, taking a bronze medal in the Agadir Grand Prix and gold in the Malaga Senior European Cup. 

By Thea Cowen

Events


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