It may be a quieter than usual Grand Slam in Baku during the upcoming weekend but we will still get to see some of our top athletes perform. The Heydar Aliyev Arena will host some regular IJF Tour competitors as well as many fresh-faced junior-turned-senior athletes with eyes on one thing, Paris 2024.
The qualification period does not begin until a few months in to 2022 which gives both the more senior athletes and the newer arrivals plenty of time to get acquainted before the real fight begins. The Azerbaijan team have pulled out all of the stops with their star studded team including Rustam ORUJOV, Orkhan SAFAROV, Hidayat HEYDAROV, Mammadali MEHDIYEV and Ushangi KOKAURI, however it is the newer faces causing a stir.
Turan BAYRAMOV (-60kg) and Eljan HAJIYEV (-81kg) took silver and bronze medals respectively in the Junior World Championships this year in Olbia, Italy, demonstrating that the talent continues to flow downstream within their national team.
There are some major threats from outside of the European Judo Union, but with a strong line up with athletes including Vazha MARGVELASHVILI (GEO), Vedat ALBAYRAK (TUR) and Chelsie GILES (GBR) within the top ten, you can bet there will be some fantastic judo to spectate.
Both the draw and live action can be found at live.ijf.org, with the initial draw taking place tomorrow on the 4th of November.
Author: Thea Cowen