There are 302 female judoka entered for the upcoming Portugal Grand Prix, starting this Friday. Across the seven weight categories the most entry received was in the -57kg category with a sum of 51 judoka. Unusually, the second largest group is the -48kg category with an coincidental total of 48 participants. The rest of the divisions are with an average of 40 entries.
The local star of the -57kg category, Telma MONTEIRO will be watching closely whilst she sits out this round [and potentially a few more], until her recovery is fully completed. The world’s top five of this weight class also take a rest from this weekend’s happening which leaves us with HUH Mimi (KOR) as the number one seed. There are a few European medal aspects in the remaining seeding positions such as 2022 European Champion, Timna NELSON LEVY (ISR); Tashkent Grand Slam 2023 bronze medallist, Pauline STARKE (GER); double world medallist, Nekoda SMYTHE-DAVIS (GBR) and Zagreb Grand Prix 2023 bronze medallist, Kaja KAJZER (SLO). On the outskirts but very much in a position of great fright to the outcome is 2019 and 2023 European Champion, Daria KURBANMAMADOVA – née MEZHETSKAIA – (AIN). 2023 Tel-Aviv Grand Slam bronze medallist, Mina LIBEER (BEL) likes to create turbulence every now and then, is she going to do just that this weekend? We shall see.
All eyes, or at least the home crowd’s, will be on double European silver medallist, Catarina COSTA (POR) in the -48kg category. She has a handful of overseas challenges to face, starting with the Mongolian duet, GANBAATAR Narantsetseg and BAVUUDORJ Baasankhuu. Kazakhstan’s Abiba ABUZHAKYNOVA (KAZ) will lead the order of the draw but not necessarily the podium line up. As of recently, and still from overseas, Maria Celie LABORDE (USA) has been challenging the weight class and certainly created a level of panic after claiming silver at the 2023 IJF Masters event. Back to Europe, Andrea STOJADINOV (SRB) is sprinting to catch up with team-mate NIKOLIC on the qualification list. This weekend will be an opportunity to get a few steps closer. 2023 Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist, Marusa STANGAR (SLO) and 2022 world silver medallist Katharina MENZ (GER) will seek to top the rostrum for Europe. Lastly, with the recent Paris 2024 selection of the Spanish Judo Federation, Mireia LAPUERTA COMAS’ Olympic goal has been officially invalidated, however, she can just as easily break others’ dreams with her continued attendance in the race.
Even with the absence of a few of their finest, the -63kg category will bring a great set of concurrences into the field of play. Eight-times continental champion, Katharina HAECKER (AUS), followed by world bronze medallist, OZBAS Szofi (HUN); six-times Grand Slam winner, Lucy RENSHALL (GBR); 2023 Antalya Grand Slam silver medallist, Inbal SHEMESH (ISR); multiple IJF World Tour medallist, Prisca AWITI-ALCARAZ (MEX); world silver medallist, Barbara TIMO (POR) and 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist, Lubjana PIOVESANA (AUT) are all amongst the top eight seeds. As always, expect a spectacular day with these judoka, whilst there is also a strong possibility for the final podium line up being set amongst them.
The -70kg category will bring double world champion, Barbara MATIC (CRO) in as top seed. Aoife COUGHLAN (AUS) will chance to top Australia’s IJF World Tour tally. Nine-times continental championships medallist, Elvismar RODRIGUES (VEN) will come to tackle a robust European quartet which is made of a German duet, Giovanna SCOCCIMARRO and Miriam BUTKEREIT, and British duet, Kelly PETERSON POLLARDand Katie-Jemima YEATS-BROWN. Ida ERIKSSON (SWE) will arrive to add to her recently started world tour medal collection. Korea, Germany (Anna Monta OLEK) and Great Britain (Emma REID and Natalie POWELL) will seek to dominate the -78kg category. Meanwhile, Turkiye will have the opportunity to gain two hardwares in the +78kg category via double European Champion, Kayra OZDEMIR – née SAYIT – and 2023 Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist, Hilal OZTURK. More European medal chances will lie in the hands of Sophio SOMKHISHVILI (GEO). The winner of the -52kg category is likely to be decided between world silver medallist, Diyora KELDIYOROVA (UZB) and triple Grand Slam winner, PUPP Reka (HUN). To top all speculations, a young Japanese group is coming to Europe to disturb the crowd.
Author: Szandra Szogedi