740 Judokas from 121 countries, 30 000 people in 2 sold-out days… This is the 2020 Paris Grand Slam, the biggest tournament in the world (February 8-9).
A few months before the Tokyo Olympics, the strategies are different. Georgia has left its main warriors at home, but Liparteliani, unlike Israel, which is complete, with Sagi Muki as a leader, or the Netherlands, with World champion Van T End. Daria Bilodid, Georgii Zantaraia and the French are also in the game.
By Ludovic Mauchien
He never won it ! It’s one of the few important titles he’s missing. Bronze medalist in 2015 and 2016, he almost did it last year with a lost final against Ressel. The reigning World champion (-81 kg), Israel’s Sagi Muki is in the starts. The world n°1 intends to erase this error on his CV. But the Dutchman Frank De Wit, winner in 2017, and a few others (Sotaro, Albayrak, Valois, Wieczerzak…) are ready to protest.
Noel Van T End never won it either. The surprising World champion of -90 kg, World n°3, intends to keep up his Tokyo momentum, but the task is arduous with, in particular, Axel Clerget, finalist in 2017, 3rd in 2018, as well as the Spanish World champion Sherazadishvili.
The Ukrainian gifted Daria Bilodid (-48 kg) has already won the Grand Slam in Paris, but it was in 2018. Absent last year, the world n°1 and World champion knew only one loss since August 2017 (final in Tbilisi in 2019 against Clement). Why would she stop winning this weekend ?
Another reigning World champion of the Team adidas, France’s Marie-Eve Gahie, only hopes that : winning in Paris, finally ! The World n°1, 5th in 2019, has only known the joys of the podium once (3rd in 2018). Everything is allowed, as for Morocco’s Assmaa Niang, very sharp lately.
Not a success in Paris, it is also surprisingly the case of Georgii Zantaraia (-66 kg), 2nd in 2014 and 2015, 3rd in 2011 and… last year. Is this the good year ?
If there is one who cannot have the same view of Paris as Gahie and Zantaraia, it is Georgia’s Varlam Liparteliani, six-time medalist in Paris (1st in 2013, 2015 and 2019, 2nd in 2014, 3rd in 2016, 2017 and 2018). World n°3, “Lipo” is therefore the holder of a title which he wishes to keep and, as usual, there will be good people to prevent it, the Portuguese World champion Jorge Da Fonseca, the World n°1 Michaël Korrel, Israel’s Peter Paltchik…
Speaking of Israelis, they all came and most of them appear in the top 10 seeders. Schmailov and Flicker (-66 kg), Butbul (-73 kg), Sasson (+100 kg), Gefen and Cohen (-52 kg)… The armada is ready to fire.
We can also count on France’s Walide Khyar (-60 kg) and Audrey Tcheumeo (-78 kg), who remain on 2 podiums in Brazil and at the Masters, the Italian
Olympic champion Fabio Basile (-66 kg) to light the fire at Bercy. While waiting for Teddy.