After a successful IJF World Tour stop in Tbilisi, Georgia, we are straight on to the next one in the beautiful coastal location of Antalya, Türkiye.
There will be five of the world ranked number ones competing; Chelsie GILES (GBR/-52kg), Lucy RENSHALL (GBR/-63kg), Barbara MATIC (CRO/-70kg), Denis VIERU (MDA/-66kg) and Roman DICKO (FRA/+78kg) amongst the incredible 620 entry. Surpassing the Paris Grand Slam entry by 100 athletes is an incredible feat and the calibre of those competing, eye-watering.
Half of the champions from Georgia will in fact be competing again in Antalya, all but one of the women’s categories will see a returning gold medallist. With this being the last stop on the IJF World Tour before the world championships in Doha in only five weeks, it’s one of the final chances for the athletes to pick up some ranking points, however some of the top athletes are still looking to claim extra in continental opens in Luanda, Varadero, Santo Domingo and Kuwait City.
Eyes will certainly be on the likes of Milica NIKOLIC (SRB/-48kg), Marica PERISIC (SRB/-57kg) and Diyora KELDIYOROVA (UZB/-52kg) as they had a very special weekend in Tbilisi, the Serbian team are on the rise and the pair picked up their first grand slam titles. Whereas the Uzbek representative took her fourth title, it was a major and blinding win against the current -48kg Olympic champion Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) that had everyone talking.
It was great to see Anna-Maria WAGNER (GER) back on form int he -78kg category and like the other winners, she is continuing her campaign this week to climb back in to that number one position in the world ranking list, currently held by her final opponent, Alice BELLANDI (ITA).
The host nation have an entry off 44 athletes, many of their rising stars being given a chance to perform in front of a home crowd on a grand stage, but also a strong offence with the likes of Vedat ALBAYRAK (-81kg), Mihael ZGANK (-90kg) and the heavyweight women doubling up with Kayla SAYIT and Hilal OZTURK.
The three day event will commence on the 31st of March, the live draw taking place the day prior at live.ijf.org.
Author: Thea Cowen