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There are enough heavyweight judoka in Europe to make the heavyweight category interesting. The major favourites for the home crowd will be Maryna Slutskaya, former number one of the World and 2017 European Champion. She might be just back in time for this unique opportunity for Belarus to win a European title at home.
Maryna Slutskaya was the first Belarussian woman to win the European title anyway. Judo is an important sport in Belarus and a medal, or even gold would be the icing on the cake for the organization. Top man of the Games and NOC General Secretary George Katulin knows the judoka well and he would be proud to see a medal in one of these special days in his career.
Kindzerska poised to win
Nonetheless Slutskaya is not the top favourite for the neutral fans but she will have to deal with Lithuanian talent Sandra Jablonskyte. Iryna Kindzerska (AZE) clearly showed to be the most consistent with five medals and gold in Tel Aviv and Antalya and silver in Paris. For us the biggest favourite. She will probably fight German Jasmin Kuelbs if she can resist YTurkish talent Akbulut.
Speaking about big, or actually tall, Yelyzaveta Kalanina (UKR) can go for a medal in Minsk. She still develops well and she won the Grand Slam in Baku which is a good indicator. Larisa Ceric is always a favourite and she fought all those girls. In this category the women know each-other very well anyway. So perhaps a surprise can make a statement. Ceric may meet Santa Pakenyte, an opponent we shouldn’t underestimate. What about former Brazilian and current Portuguese Rochele Nunes. She won three World Tour medals in 2019 so cannot be forgotten in our list of potential medallists. She won four consecutive Pan American Championships medals (2013-2016).
Former French heavyweight Kayra Sayit of Turkey was European Champion in 2016. She won gold in Marrakech this season and should be considered as a favourite for the title. Sayit is in the [pool with strong French woman Anne M’ Bairo. Ana Velensek of Slovenia showed herself a few moment with bronze in Tel Aviv and fifth place in Paris, she wo bronze in Baku and should be among the outsiders. She won bronze at the 2015 European Games U78kg and since the Olympic Games she stepped up quite successful to +78kg. A few countries have a double line up like Turkey, Ukraine, Croatia.
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