IJF Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2015 Preview
Nearly 500 judoka will compete across 14 weight classes in the United Arab Emirates’ capital city starting on Friday and each one of them has one goal in mind – victory.
The IJF World Judo Tour will visit the IPIC Arena in the Sheikh Zayed Sport City for the fourth IJF Grand Slam of the year:
There is a glint reflected off the exterior of the pristine white IPIC Arena in the Sheikh Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi. Rather fittingly, it seems, as the venue for this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Slam gets ready to host its second big judo event of the year, just 3 days after the conclusion of the Junior World Championships.
The IJF World Judo Tour stops in Abu Dhabi following the Junior World Championships 2015 which were held in the Emirates capital over the last week. In attendance for the Grand Slam are 5 Olympic and 2 world champions, of whom the most prominent will be recently crowned world champion (-60kg) Yeldos SMETOV (KAZ). SMETOV will be taking to the tatami for the first time since his historic triumph in an-all Kazakh final in Astana on August 24, 2015 and despite being seeded second will be the man to watch out for in his weight category.
In the women’s field, all eyes will be on Majlinda KELMENDI of Kosovo who will be looking to continue her remarkable run in Abu Dhabi where she is yet to lose a single contest in an IJF event since her first run out on in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in October 2011. The double world champion in the -52kg category made a triumphant return from injury in the Lisbon European Open before winning the Paris Grand Slam earlier this month and showcased just why she is building a reputation of being one of the ‘invincibles’ on the World Judo Tour.
“I am happy where I am at but not very happy. I will not be so till the time I achieve the place where I belong which is to become world champion again eventually and to gain the top position in the world rankings,” said KELMENDI ahead of the draw, sounding an ominous warning to all her rivals in the field even while she seeks to make a full recovery from the back injury that forced her to skip the World Judo Championships this year.