Judo Grand Slam Tokyo 2016 Preview

The world’s best judoka will meet in Japan for the Tokyo Grand Slam in a spectacular season-ending tournament. The event will feature 346 judoka from 46 countries, including the return of several 2016 Rio Olympic champions.

The Tokyo Grand Slam will be the final event of an action-packed 2016, which included stops in Baku, Paris, Tyumen and Abu Dhabi either side of the Rio Olympics. This final Grand Slam is the last opportunity to catch some of the finest athletes in the sport from all across the world. Athletes who didn’t perform well at the Games, are willing to come back and show that they are still at the top of their craft. It is also an important moment for the IJF to send their new generation of champions to big events, collect some precious points and medals and evaluate what needs to be done during the next Olympic cycle.

Tokyo Grand Slam is a very crucial event. First of all, it takes place in Japan, the homeland of judo and knowing that the next Olympic Games will be organized in Japan reinforces the importance of the Grand Slam. Also, the Tokyo Grand Slam is the moment for big names to come back to test their level in order to get ready to start the new Olympic cycle. 

The tournament will feature action in seven men’s divisions and seven’s women’s weight classes.

Two of the Olympic champions from Rio will be present on the tatami in Tokyo this weekend. The Italian Fabio Basile who created the surprise in August in the men’s -66kg and in the female category, Tina Trstenjak from Slovenia will also come back to competition. Having won all major titles, she is still motivated to run for a new Olympic title in four years from now. In every category there are Olympic or World medallist. Of course, as the event takes place in Japan, the Japanese team will be to followed attentively. 

Here are some of the top judoka to watch out for over this weekend’s three-day event:

An Baul: the Korean judoka is the top-ranked -66kg competitor, and rightfully so given his credentials. Coming off a silver medal victory in Rio, Baul is South Korea’s first half-lightweight champion in over a decade. His top competition, the number two ranked -66kg judoka Fabio Basile, won the gold in Rio.

Shohei Ono: One of Japan’s top competitors, Ono won the gold medal in the -73kg tournament in Rio and enters the bracket as the second seed, behind only An Changrim.

Gwak Dong-han: The South Korean judoka is the top ranked -90kg competitor in the world and has been an elite talent since his first competition in 2011. Known for his shoulder-throw techniques, Dong-han will look to build on his middleweight bronze medal in the Rio Olympics.

Cyrille Maret & Ryunosuke Haga: The French Maret and Japanese Haga tied for the bronze in the Rio Olympics. Maret comes into Tokyo as the 100kg top seed, while Haga is seeded number three. We’ll see if either Maret or Haga can claim the top prize in the half-heavyweight bracket.

Dorjsuren Sumiya: One of the brightest young talents in the sport, Sumiya won the silver medal in the 57kg bracket of the 2016 Rio Olympics, building on her first-round loss in 2012. She enters Tokyo as the favorite to win the lightweight tournament.

In addition to these top names, there are hundreds of competitors striving for gold this weekend in Tokyo.

Experience one of the most popular Olympic sports outside of the Olympic setting, the Tokyo Grand Slam should feature exciting action from judo’s elite. Whether you’re a judo fanatic or a casual viewer, the Tokyo Grand Slam will provide three days of competition at the sport’s highest level.

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