We may have been excited in the lead up to the Hungary Grand Slam 2022, but are equally looking forward to the Zagreb Grand Prix this weekend that is hosting even more of the top athletes and nations!
An agreement was made given the close proximity of the events, that those who had competed in Budapest could remain for training purposes and would be transported to Zagreb to save flight costs for the federations involved. President of the EJU, Dr Laszlo TOTH explained the importance of assisting everyone, not only the athletes in Europe, to prepare themselves in the best way possible.
Now on to the line up.
World ranked number ones include; Jorge FONSECA (POR), Denis VIERU (MDA), Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) and Tato GRIGALASHVILI (GEO). The -73kg Shavdatuashvili had a great tournament but ended up placing second in Hungary, losing out to Hidayat HEYDAROV (AZE) in the final, who will also be present in Zagreb for a potential rematch.
It will be interesting to see how the race pans out on this ‘road to Paris 2024’, who will become the front runners and if any young athletes will surprise those we have been used to seeing for so long.
One of the those in the -81kg category to watch out for is Guilherme SCHIMIDT (BRA) who just took another grand slam gold in Hungary and will be a major threat in that bid for the number one ranking spot.
We have exciting entries in terms of Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) and ABE Uta (JPN) in the -52kg category, and given their seeding positions they could meet in the final. We are missing Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) here and other higher seeded athletes in this category but this will be a good match up if they both secure final positions.
Angelika SZYMANKSA (POL) certainly made an impression in Hungary with her silver in the -63kg category, and will be ranked in the top eight in Zagreb. For home favourite Barbara MATIC (CRO), this could be her last opportunity to wear her red back patch, that is unless she continues her reign in Tashkent. Other red patch wearers will include Fonseca, Shavdatuashvili and Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP).
The three-day tournament will commence on Friday 15th of July.
Author: Thea Cowen