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The battle for qualification for the Olympic Games goes on. In 500 days the Judo Tournament will celebrate the kick-off with the lightweight categories. A lot is still about to happen but at the Grand Slam in Ekaterinburg new stories will be made. Especially the battles within each country with two or even more candidates is interesting.
Yeldos Smetov is still in a battle with Gusman Kyrgyzbayev for one place for Kazakhstan both are speareted in the draw. Smetov defends his title in Russia. While in the same category U60kg Russian will have Yashuev and Oguzov in Ekaterinburg, but in this stage Robert Mshvidobadze is for sure the best candidate for the Games. Also Brazilians Phelipe Pelim and Eric Takabatake are still fighting for the best position in the clean top 18 for the Games.
Very interesting is the battle in Israel between Tal Flicker and Baruch Shmailov U66kg both are separated as they are the top seeds in the list U66kg.
In Belgium Matthias Casse and Sami Chouchi want to qualify U81kg but Casse clearly has the best papers. We estimate objective judo fans will have all eyes on the battle U90kg between former World Number one Aleksandar Kukolj and 2017 World Champion Nemanja Majdov who got in shape in Marrakech last week taking gold. Both Serbians are top players, but only one can go. Kukolj is the highest seeded Serbian but Majdov is closing in. Kukolj won the Grand Slam last year and his points will drop when he doesn’t reach the podium.
In the same category U90kg both Dutch athletes Noël van ‘t End and Jesper Smink will try to gain points. Judo stylist Van ‘t End is still ranked higher but Smink gained valuable points in the last few months. Georgian athletes Ushangi Margiani and Beka Gviniashvili also seeded in the top eight in Russia and will feel the same pressure.
Brazilians Rafael Buzacarini and Leonardo Goncalves are battling U100kg for one place for the Games. Brazil’s heavyweights David Moura and Rafael Silva are both present in Ekaterinburg so enough interesting stories with double positions in various countries.
The World Championships are an essential event this year, also held in Tokyo where 2000 qualification points are waiting for the winner. In Ekaterinburg 1000 fresh points are for the winner.
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