My previous previews can be seen here
Top 10 competing at the Olympics
- Bundmaa Munkhbaatar, Mongolia
- Misato Nakamura, Japan
- Erika Miranda, Brazil
- Soraya Haddad, Algeria
- Majlinda Kenlmendi, Albania
- Natalia Kuziutina, Russia
- Priscella Gneto, France
- Ana Carrascosa, Spain
- Yanet Bermoy Acosta, Cuba
- Joana Ramos, Portugal
Japan qualified three women in this category. 2008 Olympic Bronze medallist and World #3 Misato Nakamura(2x World Gold, 1x World Bronze, 1x Asian Games gold, 1x Asian Games bronze) beat #1 Yuka Nishida(World Gold, silver and Bronxe, 2x Asian Games winner) at the All Japan Championships and will therefore be getting her second shot at Olympic gold.
The top seeded woman at the Olympics will therefore be world #2 Bundmaa Munkhbaatar of Mongolia (world bronze medallist, 6x Asian Games medallist). She is a solid, tough competitior and will rough up some women.
Erika Miranda of Brazil is another of that really solid crop of Brazillians I talked about in the last post. You are going to see mention of Brazil in pretty much every weight class, both male and female. I'm not sure exactly what they are doing there, but it is definitely working. (actually, I have some idea of what they are doing there, but that's a longer discussion)
France's new entrant, #7 Priscella Gneto should be an interesting one to watch. The 20 year old just started to enter international competition and has pulled off some decent wins including one over Nakamura on her way up the international rankings. I expect we’ll see her at her best by 2016, but even this year she is good enough to upset some favourites
For my money though, the most interesting story of the weight class is that of world #6 Majlinda Kenlmendi. Technically she is a citizen of Kosovo, which is still being claimed by Serbia and therefore is not recognized by the IOC. For her international competitions, the IJF allowed her to compete under their flag, but for the Olympics she has been forced to compete as a citizen of Albania. She’s another who I expect to be solid and pretty competitive.
Germany's Romy Tarangul is kinda a fan favourite in these parts too. Partly for her skills(World Bronze Medalist, 2x European medalist) and partly because of her playboy spread
World #12 Yanet Bermoy Acosta is an example of what used to be the scariest force in female Judo, the Cuban women's squad. Not too long ago they were right up there with Japan and France in terms of depth but for reasons I don't particularly understand they seem to be going through a bit of a decline lately. Here you can see a bit of what makes them feared
Britain's entry at this weight is Sophie Cox, a 4 time European medalist and 2004 Olympian who gave up judo in 2005 to move to Thailand and teach english. While there she apparently started teaching judo and also took part in some grappling competitions before returning to competition in 2010 to win another european Bronze.
As for who I expect to win... I'm leaning towards Munkhbaatar to keep her top spot, but wouldn't be surprised if Kuziutina or Nakamura upset her. Gneto has a decent chance to play dark horse and spoil someone's day too, as do Clark and Acosta.
Top 10 competing at the Olympics
- Musa Mogushkov, Russia
- Tsangaanbaatar Khashbaatar, Mongolia
- Masashi Ebinuma, Japan
- Leandro Cunha, Brazil
- Rok Draksic, Slovenia
- Jun-Ho Cho, Korea
- David Larose, France
- Sugoi Uriarte, Spain
- Tomasz Kowalski, Poland
- Sergey Lim, Kazakhstan
To give you an idea of how deep this division is, Russia, Japan and France qualified 4 men each for this division while Poland, Korea, Brazil and Mongolia qualified two. I am kinda upset with Korea's choice though. Cho is the higher ranked athlete and deserves his spot, but I was hoping Choi Min-Ho would get a chance to repeat his epic 2008 gold medal run shown below. The Korean selectors probably made the right choice, but I'm still a bit disappointed.
I do like David Larose of France. He is constantly competitive and from time to time pulls off moves like the submission below. He'll deliver some fun stuff.
The British entry at this weight is Colin Oates, A European bronze medalist with a string of decent performances. He incredibly consistent in that he always manages to be competitive but doesn't seem to have cracked through the top guys yet. That said I'd peg him as one of their best chances of a medal in male Judo this year.
Picking a winner in this division is actually pretty hard. Ebinuma is the current world champion but he has lost recently to both Kashbataar and Mogushkov I'm actually torn between Kashbataar of Mongolia and and Cho of Korea as my number one picks. Anyone in the top 10 is a threat though. There will be very few easy matches.
On an MMA related note, world #15 Ivo Dos Santos of Australia is also an MMA fighter with one pro fight to his name(video below). Apparently he wanted to try out for the UK vs. Australia edition of TUF and was turned down for not meeting the three fight minimum. Now, I'm not going to pretend I'm in any position to tell the UFC how to run their business, But I'd bet Dana White and his team any amount of money they want that a world ranked judoka in almost any weight class is likely to be a better athlete and grappler than the vast majority of the 3-0 fighters on Australia's regional circuit. This was a dumb decision on their part and probably cost them a chance to hook Australians into the show even more by having one of their Olympians in the house. Either way, good luck to Ivo.