30 January 2024


Paris Grand Slam 2024


Prestige is naturally associated with the Paris Grand Slam, and the entry for the 2024 edition demonstrates just that, with six of seven of the female world ranked number ones in attendance.

So let’s go in weight order, starting with the -48kg category, led by Assunta SCUTTO of Italy, clearing WRL #4 Shirine BOUKLI (FRA) by almost 1500 points. Though the entries are somewhat typical, we can expect extra tension for the Mongolian and Serbian entries; WRL #9 GANBAATAR Narantsetseg, WRL #11 BAVUUDORJ Baasankhuu, WRL #5 Milica NIKOLIC and #15 Andrea STOJADINOV, as they battle for the Olympic places.

Melanie LEGOUX CLEMENT (FRA) © Emanuele Di Feliciantonio

Melanie LEGOUX CLEMENT (FRA) took a short break, but the 31 year-old who debuted in her first Paris Grand Slam a decade ago is more than capable of standing on the podium, taking bronze in 2020 and reaching the final in 2021.

Aside from Portugal’s WRL #26 and #28 Maria SIDEROT and Joana DIOGO, there are no major head to heads in the -52kg category which is headed by the -48kg Olympic champion, Distria KRASNIQI (KOS). Paris Grand Slam finalist in 2022 and 2023, Krasniqi, was met there by Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) on both occasions and so far its a 1:1 record in the Bercy. Focus was originally on this pair, however Buchard has made the decision to pull out of the major tournament. Don’t be too disheartened though, Olympic medallists Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA) and Chelsie GILES (GBR), and the capable Gefen PRIMO (ISR) and Mascha BALLHAUS (GER) are all prepped to go. The latter is on a high from a medal earned in the Portugal Grand Prix last weekend. jm n

Another pair consistently drawing attention are Christa DEGUCHI and Jessica KLIMKAIT of Canada. This will certainly be yet another close competition in this Olympic cycle with around 700 points separating the top two seeds of the -57kg category. The Pan Am stars continue with former Olympic and world champion, Rafaela SILVA (BRA) who, after a break, reestablished herself. The Tokyo Games Olympic finalists are in the category breakdown with Sarah Leonie CYSIQUE at #5 and Nora GJAKOVA at #7. There are a number of Olympic places being contested in this close weight, with Germany, Great Britain and Türkiye needing to make decisions in the near future.

Olympic finalists; Sarah Leonie CYSIQUE (FRA) and Nora GJAKOVA (KOS) © Gabi Juan

Still on the climb back to her top position, Clarisse AGBEGNENOU (FRA) will have all eyes on her in the -63kg category, her Olympic and world titles may speak highly, but in this event it is the six previous titles earned, and now she will look for her seventh in front of an adoring crowd. With the hype surrounding the French team it can be daunting for the other entries, however with the category seemingly levelling out, times may have changed. Lucy RENSHALL (GBR) returned to her top place position, claiming gold in Portugal, but above her in the ranking still sits Catherine BEACHEMIN-PINARD (CAN), Laura FAZLIU (KOS) and Gili SHARIR (ISR). The latter won the 2023 edition of the Paris Grand Slam, but she needs to keep an eye on her national rivalry with Inbal SHEMESH who also stepped on the Portuguese podium recently. Current Olympic champion, Andreja LESKI (SLO) will debut her 2024 season in Paris, and is feeling much more confident, knowing that she is in a relatively strong position for the Olympic Games.

the -70kg entry doesn’t look too dissimilar to the Portugal Grand Prix, Barbara MATIC (CRO), Aoife COUGHLAN (AUS), Miriam BUTKEREIT (GER) are just a few of the names we will see again this weekend. There is a battle continuing for Butkereit with Giovanna SCOCCIMARRO (GER) but this seems to be a popular theme for the German women at this point. Defending champion, Ai TSUNODA ROUSTANT (ESP) comes in as the third seed this weekend behind Matic and super-threat, Elisavet TELTSIDOU (GRE), who when on form is capable of defeating anyone standing in her path. Still no sign of Sanne VAN DIJKE (NED) back on the tour, but team mates Hilde JAGER and Kim POLLING are here for the chance to climb the ranking, the latter became Paris champion in 2013. Marie Eve GAHIE (FRA) has already secured the OIympic position, however, Margaux PINOT is still on her heels and will be determined to take her place on top of the podium in front of the legendary home crowd.

Kim POLLING (NED) Paris Grand Slam 2013 © Tamas Zahonyi

As previously mentioned, the German women have a great battle going on between Anna Maria WAGNER and Alina BOEHM in the -78kg category, and apparently another chaser in Anna Monta OLEK who captured the gold in Portugal, though she isn’t in the line up for Paris. The crowd however, will have eyes on the French women as it is still undecided who will represent the home nation in the Olympic Games. The most senior of the group, Audrey TCHEUMEO is currently leading in the world ranking list, followed by Madeleine MALONGA and Fanny Estelle POSVITE, #3, #8 and #14 respectively. The youngster Yelyzaveta LYTVYNENKO (UKR) has soared in to qualification and is ranked 16. But now let’s look at our leading ladies. Inbar LANIR (ISR) took over in 2023 with a world title, and a successive Grand Slam gold, sealing her hat-trick with an IJF Masters title, putting WRL #2 Alice BELLANDI (ITA) on the chase.

French nations sweetheart, Romane DICKO, took the +78kg title in 2020, and since has accumulated silver and bronze medals. She will be joined by team mates Lea FONTAINE and Coralie HAYME, but all are following behind the WRL #1 Raz HERSHKO (ISR). There is a national concurrence and battle for the Olympic spot between Kayra OZDEMIR neé SAYIT and Hilal OZTURK of Türkiye, with the latter taking the gold medal in Portugal last week, closing the gap further. Another double act contending for Paris Olympics is Marit KAMPS and Karen STEVENSON (NED).

Hilal OZTURK (TUR) © Gabriela Sabau

It will be a huge tournament, not simply because it is the Paris Grand Slam, carrying their own celebrations, but with the Olympic Games around the corner, these qualification points are crucial, especially for those competing against a national opponent.

Author: Thea Cowen