For this entire week (August 25th to the 31st) the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, otherwise known for dozens of dashboard videos of a meteor exploding over it, shall be hosting the 2014 Judo world championships. The order of competition shall be as below:
Monday August 25th
-60kg Men, -48kg Women
Tuesday August 25th
-66kg Men, -52kg Women
Wednesday August 27th
-73kg Men, -57kg Women
Thursday August 28th
-81kg Men, -63kg Women
Friday August 29th
-90kg Men, -70kg & -78kg Women
Saturday August 30th
-100kg & +100kg Men, -78kg Women
Sunday August 31st
World Team Championships (One man each at -66kg, -73kg, -81kg, -90kg, +90kg/ One woman each -52kg, -57kg, -63kg, -70kg, +70kg)
People to watch:
This is the first time I honestly don’t have a pick in mind for the gold medal place. There is a lot of established talent at this weight and I am curious to see which of them ends up owning the podium. First, we have the reigning Olympic champ and 2011 world champ, Tagir Khaibulaev. He has been mostly off the mat since, but that kind of quality is always a threat. We also have Mongolia’s first Olympic gold medalist and spirit animal to wrestlers everywhere who think a good double leg is all they need to win olympic gold, Tuvshinbayar Naidan. That Beijing gold and London silver he is carrying weren’t flukes, and it is a testament to his skills that he has continued to win after the leg grab bans came into effect.
Also keep an eye on reigning European champ and World bronze medalist Lucas Krpalek of the Czech Republic, reigning World champ Elkhan Mammadov of Azerbaijan and his countryman Elmar Gasimov, France’s European bronze medalist Cyrille Maret, and Dutch multiple World and Olympic medalist Henk Grol.
I’m going to also put in a sleeper pick for Canada’s Kyle Reyes, the 2013 world junior champion. I’ve liked what I have seen out of him so far and while I’m not sure if he is fully acclamatized to fighting seniors, he is good enough to be trouble.
Teddy Riner. That is all you need to know. Sure, there are some pretty good heavyweights in this division (Brazil’s Rafael SIlva, Japan’s Daiki Kamikawa, Cuba’s Oscar Brayson) and without him it would actually be competitive, but he is here and a singular talent well on his way to establishing himself as the best heavyweight judoka of all time. Just enjoy the ride
This will probably be all about London gold medalist and 2013 world champ Idalys Ortiz of Cuba, the lady with the always-colourful braids. She hasn’t won a gold in 2014 yet though, and there is significant competition in the form of Japan’s Megumi Tachimoto(3x world bronze medalist) and Kanae Yamabe (reigning All-Japan Champ). I’d also watch out for France’s reigning European champ, Emilie Andeol.