Paco Lozano / Judo y Otros
Again the Japanese team cancelled most of their top favourites for the Grand Prix in Hohhot. The team of 28 is reduced to 8, 6 women, 2 men. Interesting is the return of World Champion Uta Abe in the category U52kg. Also World Junior Championships runner-up Sana Yoshida, sister of Tsukasa, makes her debut in the World Tour U48kg and will obviously be unseeded.
Saki Niizoe will be the favourite to win the title U70kg, she is one of the three super strong Japanese women in this weight category. Aimi Nouchi will be aiming for a medal in the category U63kg. Rika Takayama will be a strong contender U78kg but will probably soon face Baku winner Luise Malzahn (GER).
In the men’s division World silver medallist Sotaro Fujiwara will be top favourite for gold U81kg. This category is interesting with World Champion Saeid Mollaei starting in China and Dominic Ressel of Germany.
Kenta Nagasawa is present U90kg, so clearly the Japanese still sent a strong team but not some of the clashes we hoped to see in advance of the World Championships later this year in Tokyo. Nagasawa may be able to feel the strength of Ivan Silva (CUB) and Nemanja Majdov (SRB).
Also the Mongolian team will have some good athletes in the line-up for Hohhot, inner Mongolia region in China.
The category for men U73kg will be quite strong with Tommy Macias (SWE), Odbayar Ganbaatar (MGL) and Hidayet Heydarov (AZE) and Tsend-Ochir Tsogtbaatar who defeated World Champion An Changrim recently.
Korean World Champion Cho Gu-Ham will be back U100kg. Perhaps Shady El-Nahas of Canada can shine, he is in good shape but must face Cyrille Maret. Karl-Richard Frey is back for Germany in this category. Russia’s Arman Adamian will likely meet with Cho Gu-Ham in the quarter final.
Heavyweight Lukas Krpalek, Korea’s Kim Sungmin and Mongolia’s Duurenbayar Ulziibayar are strong men +100kg, also 2008 Olympic Champion Naidan still competes.
U57kg can be nice with a possible confrontation between Sumiya Dorjsuren (MGL) and Canada’s Jessica Klimkait, but it can only be done in the final.