The second day of the event will showcase the -52kg and -66kg categories with Europe hoping to top some of the spots on the podium.
In white, triple World medallist, Andreea CHITU (ROU) has had a few resent set backs and will seek to bounce back onto the podium in Baku.
Olympic and World bronze medallist, Natalia KUZIUTINA (RUS) aims for one thing and nothing else, the gold.
In white, Amandine BUCHARD is currently WRL#1. Since opting up for the -52s, BUCHARD excelled at several IJF World Tour events proving to be a real medal hopeful this week.
Olympic bronze medallist, Charline VAN SNICK (BEL) has also quickly adjusted to the upper weight class and now a regular hunter of the podium spots.
Continental race to the top
With the absence of Olympic and World Champion, Majlinda KELMENDI (KOS), the athletes can take a shot at the -52kg gold. European athletes are regular on the podium in this particular weight division and as of this week, perhaps four of the following athletes can grab the crown: Amandine BUCHARD (FRA), Natalia KUZIUTINA (RUS) and Charline VAN SNICK (BEL), Andreea CHITU (ROU).
BUCHARD is currently WRL#1 and so, top seed of the -52kg category in Baku. The French judoka won bronze at the 2014 World Championships, however, it was a weigh division below. Since opting up for the -52kg category, BUCHARD excelled at several IJF World Tour events, hence climbing up to lead the World Ranking. Directly below in the seeding is Olympic bronze medallist, KUZIUTINA. The Russian judoka claimed bronze last year in Budapest, being the only European athlete on the podium. Current World Champion, SHISHIME Ai (JPN) is top 7 seed which can lead to a later KUZIUTINA vs SHISHIME quarter final. Despite SHISHIME holding onto the current World title, all eyes will be on her team mate, 2018 Paris Grand Slam winner, ABE Uta (JPN). ABE is undefeated for almost two years and already won against SHISHIME last December during the Tokyo Grand Slam. In 2017, we witnessed an all Japanese final at the World Judo Championships, which our quartet, including Olympic bronze medallist, VAN SNICK and triple World medallist, CHITU, will be aiming to rearrange this week. To have their mission accomplished, there will be one more challenge to take into consideration and that will be four times World medallist, Erika MIRANDA (BRA).
With top contenders flying in from around the world there is no telling which continent will be taking home the gold.
Triple World Silver medallist Mikhail PULIAEV (RUS) will be seeking to lift away the barrier and finally take World glory.
In blue, Adrian GOMBOC stunned all by his winning performance at the European Championships earlier this year. The Slovenian judoka will now have to rise up to the World stage.
In blue, European and World medallist, Nijat SHIKHALIZADA (AZE) will have the luxury of competing on his doorstep with the encouragement of the audience.
The acrobatic athlete, Georgii ZANTARAIA (UKR) will also show his skills on the tatami and be looking for an improvement on his fifth place last year.
In white, WRL#1 and top seed, Tal FLICKER (ISR).
Vazha MARGVELASHVILI (GEO) was a bronze medallist last year, lets see if he can turn that in to a different colour
Fourth times a charm
Mikhail PULIAEV (RUS) a known regular on the senior world circuit, will be keen to break his silver streak, settling for the runner up position on three occasions at the World Championship event. Although this achievement is sought after by athletes the world over, PULIAEV knows he has what it takes to grasp that glory.
Day two of the event will be the moment when the ABE family will seek for double glory by both, Uta and Hifumi. We have already introduced Uta and now it is time to look into Hifumi’s record as current World Champion of the -66kg category. He is number two seed right behind Tal FLICKER (ISR), who is no stranger to a gold medal, picking them up in grand prix and grand slam events over the past 18 months. Making his way on to both the European and World Championship podium to claim bronze will make him all the more determined to better himself in Baku. This year his goal will be to get in to that final contest of the -66kg category. As he continues final preparations in Israel after a camp in Japan, the athlete explained his feelings leading up to the World Championship: “The mental preparation is just as important as the physical, you can’t have one without the other to succeed.”
Picking up the other bronze medal at the World Championships in Hungary last year was Georgian, Vazha MARGVELASHVILI, who lost in the semi-final to ABE Hifumi (JPN) but conquering KIM Limhwan (KOR) to step on to the podium. The dynamic athlete took gold earlier this year at home at the Tbilisi Grand Prix, showing his endless talents and plethora of techniques in his arsenal. The unpredictable athlete will surely add to the excitement of this year’s World Championship. The acrobatic athlete, Georgii ZANTARAIA (UKR) will also show his skills on the tatami and be looking for an improvement on his 2017 World Championship fifth place. With a grand slam and grand prix silver this year, he stands in good stead. Adrian GOMBOC (SLO) already struck gold in the -66kg category this year when winning the European Championships. Now, it will be time for him to shine on the World stage. Despite all records, only Nijat SHIKHALIZADA (AZE) will have the luxury of competing on his doorstep with the encouragement of the audience.