Part 1 of our Complete Guide to #JudoWorlds2018 covers Teams A-F and 270 judoka from 46 countries!

Afghanistan (AFG)

Alikozay ZELGAI -60kg Ippon-seoi-nage specialist ZELGAI, 24, will make only his second start on the IJF World Judo Tour having debuted on the world stage at the Tashkent Grand Prix last year where he lost his opening contest to Kazakh Abylaikhan SHARATOV. ZELGAI is ranked outside the world’s top 150 judoka but will instead be focused on his own ability and will go to the tatami knowing that anything can happen in judo.

Abdul Fahim FAZLI -66kg

World number 331 FAZLI, 23, made his first IJF appearance at the 2015 World Championships in Astana where he was eliminated in the first round by Armenian Arsen GHAZARYAN after picking up three penalties. The uchi-mata man has fought at four Asian Championships and one Asian Games and has compiled a record of 1:4 with his sole contest win coming at the 2014 Asian Games over Macau’s Tin Chi LEI.

Mod Reshad ARYAN -73kg

ARYAN, 26, finished a fortuitous and career-best seventh-place at the Tashkent Grand Prix in 2017 despite losing both of his contests in Uzbekistan. In his one previous Worlds outing he lost his opening contest against Azerbaijan’s Huseyn RAHIMLI. ARYAN prides himself on his uchi-mata which is the technique he will try to employ in Baku.

Mod Ismail KAKAR -90kg

Little-known koshi-waza proponent KAKAR, 23, made his international bow at the Asian Games in August and Baku 2018 will be his first taste of IJF competition. KAKAR lost out in the second round at the Asian Games by ippon to GANTULGA Altanbagana (MGL) as he failed to trouble the Mongolian with his favoured o-goshi.

Asadullah TAJIK -100kg

The heaviest member of Afghanistan’s five-strong team, TAJIK, 25, is unknown outside of his homeland having made a low-key debut on the international stage when he suffered a first round defeat to at the Asian Games. Like his teammate KAKAR, the osoto-gari advocate will step onto the tatami at an IJF competition for the first time in Baku.

Albania (ALB)

Indrit CULLHAJ -66kg

World number 229 CULLHAJ, 21, was only a teenager when he made his World Championships debut in 2015 in a losing effort against Turkey’s Bekir OZLU. He returned to the IJF’s flagship event in 2017 where he was beaten in the opening round by Ryan VARGAS of USA. His career-best result is a fifth-place at the Dubrovnik European Cup this year.

Instagram: @endri_dora_vet

Algeria (ALG)

Kaouthar OUALLAL -78kg

African Championships gold medallist OUALLAL, 27, makes her third appearance at a World Championships for Algeria. The highly-talented judoka will be confident of earning her first contest win on the biggest stage of the IJF World Judo Tour after winning her continental championships in April. OUALLAL has a fifth-place to her name on the IJF stage from the 2014 Samsun Grand Prix which remains the Algerian’s best performance on the international circuit.

Instagram: @ouallal_kaouthar

Fethi NOURINE -73kg

African Championships winner NOURINE, 27, returns to the IJF’s marquee event for the first time since his Worlds debut in 2014. NOURINE will have fond memories of that day having recorded an emphatic win over Anass HOUSSEIN (DJI) by scoring four times without reply. In the next round the Algerian judoka went the distance with Kamal KHAN-MAGOMEDOV (RUS) as he bowed out on penalties while the Russian went on to win bronze.

Instagram: @fethinourine

Lyes BOUYACOUB -100kg

Rio 2016 Olympian BOUYACOUB, 35, will make his eighth challenge for World Championships honours in Baku. The African Championships silver medallist has won Grand Prix bronze in 2010 and Grand Slam bronze in 2014 and finished fifth at the invite-only World Judo Masters in 2016 after losing to current Olympic champion Lukas KRPALEK (CZE).

Instagram: @lyes.bouyakoub

Angola (ANG)

Diassonema MUCUNGUI -57kg

Former African Championships bronze medallist MUCUNGUI, 22, returns for a second World Championships campaign after debuting at Budapest 2017. MUCUNGUI produced a respectable performance in Hungary as she scored not once but twice in her opening contest against Manon DURBACH (LUX) before being held down with a yoko-shiho-gatame.

Instagram: @diassonema

Nayr Garcia PEDRO -60kg

Two-time African Games bronze medallist PEDRO, 26, makes his first start of the IJF season at Baku 2018. PEDRO was introduced to the World Championships for the first time last year and used his trademark ippon-seoi-nage to defeat Dilmer CALLE (PER) by ippon. The Angolan judoka fell to Diyorbek UROZBOEV (UZB) in the next round and could draw some degree of consolation from the fact his conqueror went on to capture bronze.

Instagram: @nayr_garcia

Edmilson PEDRO -66kg

World Championships debutant PEDRO, 21, is a new name in an IJF setting. The young Angolan has only fought once outside his homeland when he stepped up to compete at the African Championships this year. PEDRO defeated Gavin MOGOPA (BOT) by ippon before losing his quarter-final and repechage contests to finish seventh.

Acacio QUIFUCUSSA -73kg

African Championships bronze medallist QUIFUCUSSA, 21, is a raw and exciting talent who medalled at his first continental championships this year. QUIFUCUSSA caught the eye as he won four of his five contests against tricky opposition from Tunisia, Cape Verde, Libya and South Africa. Three of his wins were by ippon and he would love to repeat such a run on the world stage with a bit of luck and a favourable draw.

Antunes VUNGE -73kg

One-time World Championships participant VUNGE, 24, graces the tatami for the first time this year at Baku 2018. VUNGE saw action at the 2017 African Championships where he went 1:1 as he scored three times against Rui JUNIOR (GBS) before a loss to Faye NJIE (GAM) by ippon. On his World Championships debut the Angolan went to the four minute distance with Jorge FERNANDES (POR) as he suffered a narrow defeat by a single waza-ari score from a yoko-otoshi.

Instagram: @antunesvunge

Argentina (ARG)

Paula PARETO -48kg

Olympic champion PARETO, 32, last won IJF gold at the 2015 World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games Athlete Role Model, who was congratulated for her Olympic victory by Lionel MESSI on social media, remains an underdog due to her sporadic appearances on the IJF World Judo Tour while her closest rivals have been highly-active in 2018.

Instagram: @paupareto

Olympic champion Paula PARETO (ARG)

Keisy PERAFAN -48kg

Pan American Championships silver medallist PERAFAN, 22, trains with PARETO on a daily basis which has helped to accelerate her progression. The San Luis judoka lost out to her country’s most successful judoka of all time in the continental final this year by ippon. PERAFAN has trained at Teikyo University in Tokyo alongside PARETO in preparation for Baku 2018.

Instagram: @keisyperafan

Emmanuel LUCENTI -81kg

Three-time Olympian LUCENTI, 33, struck IJF Grand Prix gold in his 16th attempt last year to become the first man from Argentina to win IJF World Judo Tour gold. LUCENTI finished seventh at London 2012 after losing to eventual champion KIM Jae-Bum (KOR) in the quarter-finals and subsequent bronze medallist Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN) in the repechage. The Argentine has fought at every World Championships since debuting in 2007.

Instagram: @emmalucenti

Tomas MORALES -81kg

Córdoba judoka MORALES, 26, is the understudy to LUCENTI, and has earned his second call-up to an IJF World Championships. The Pan American Open silver medallist produced a credible showing at Budapest 2017 as he lost to Egypt’s Mohamed ABDELAAL in the third round. MORALES is yet to medal outside of the Americas at a ranking event.

Instagram: @tomasmorales81

Hector CAMPOS +100kg

Hailing from Viedma, Rio Negro and now residing in Buenos Aires, CAMPOS, 30, is best known for his silver medal at the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam in 2012 a month before gracing the Olympics for the first time in London. The former -90kg and -100kg judoka joined the heavyweight ranks last year and will be looking for scalps in judo’s heaviest weight category having once upset London 2012 Olympic champion SONG Dae-Nam (KOR) and World Judo Masters bronze medallist CIRJENICS Miklos (HUN) in the aforementioned divisions.

Instagram: @totocampos

Aruba (ARU)

Isaac CROES -60kg

CROES, 22, is based out of the USA as he is studying in Orlando and trains out of Sasaki Judo Club in central Florida. Isaac has tasted Grand Prix, Grand Slam and World Championships action on the IJF World Judo Tour and recorded his first contest win on the elite stage when he beat Al Rolan LLAMAS (PHI) at the Tokyo Grand Slam last year.

Australia (AUS)

Caroline HAIN -48kg

Oceania Championships winner HAIN, 22, has been a newcomer to the IJF World Judo Tour in 2018. The New South Wales judoka first appeared at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July where she lost to Baku 2018 favourite Daria BILODID (UKR) and in August was beaten by Julia FIGUEROA (ESP) in the Budapest Grand Prix preliminaries.

Instagram: @carohain_

Tinka EASTON -52kg

Former Hong Kong Asian Open winner EASTON, 22, has experience of fighting at six Grand Prix and one Grand Slam. Despite never placing on the IJF World Judo Tour, the 2017 Oceania Championships winner has beaten high-quality opposition from Europe and Asia and scored first against Erika MIRANDA (BRA) on her Worlds debut last year before falling by ippon as the Brazilian went on to win bronze.

Instagram: @tinka_rose

Katharina HAECKER -63kg

Four-time Grand Prix medallist HAECKER, 26, is the standard bearer for the Australian team as their only judoka inside the world’s top 25 on the IJF ranking list. The Germany-born Rio 2016 Olympian lost to double world bronze medallist TASHIRO Miku (JPN) in the second round in Brazil. HAECKER, who trains extensively in Hamburg, earned a career-best silver medal at the Agadir Grand Prix in March.

Instagram: @k.haecker63

Aoife COUGHLAN -70kg

Oceania Championships winner COUGHLAN, 22, will compete at the World Championships for the second time in her career after a baptism of fire in 2015 when she faced current world number one Maria PORTELA (BRA) in her very first IJF competition. The Australian youngster took bronze at the Taipei Open, an event carrying qualification points towards Tokyo 2020, in July after win over talented opponents from South Korea and Chinese Taipei.

Instagram: @eef_coughlan

Melanie WALLIS -78kg

Three-time Oceania Championships runner-up WALLIS, 24, placed seventh at the Minsk European Open in August as part of her Baku 2018 preparations. WALLIS made her Worlds debut a year ago and suffered a narrow defeat to Anna Maria WAGNER (GER) who countered the Australian’s favoured uchi-mata for a waza-ari score.

Instagram: @walli.e94

Bryan JOLLY -60kg

Victoria judoka JOLLY, 21, made his IJF debut in July at the Zagreb Grand Prix and remained in Europe to fight at the Budapest Grand Prix in August. The former Junior Oceania Championships winner lost to lowly-ranked opponents in both events but is early in his transition onto the senior stage and the IJF World Judo Tour. JOLLY worked out in Izola, an old fishing town and a municipality in southwestern Slovenia on the Adriatic coast, as part of his camp for Baku.

Instagram: @bryanjolly101

Nathan KATZ -66kg

Rio 2016 Olympian KATZ, 23, hails from one of Australia’s most famous judo families. The Taipei Open bronze medallist is the son of Budokan Judo coaches Rob and Kerrye Katz who have over 80 years of judo experience between them while his younger brother Joshua is currently Oceania champion. Sydney’s KATZ trained in Munich with the German national team before finishing his preparation at Camberley Judo Club.

Instagram: @nathankatz66

Calvin KNOESTER -73kg

Oceania Championships winner KNOESTER, 22, is tasked with the biggest competition of his young career in Azerbaijan. Perth-based KNOESTER has fought in three IJF Grand Prix this year (Agadir, Zagreb and Budapest) and has looked more composed with every outing. The World Championships newcomer has trained abroad extensively including stays at Tokai University in Japan and Camberley Judo Club in England.

Instagram: @calvinknoester

Eoin COUGHLAN -81kg

Three-time and reigning Oceania champion COUGHLAN, 26, placed seventh at the Tunis Grand Prix in January which was his best result to date on the IJF World Judo Tour. Melbourne-based COUGHLAN qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and fought at the World Championships in 2015 and 2017 and has a 1:2 record at the International Judo Federation’s blue ribbon event.

Instagram: @oweycoughlan

Harrison CASSAR -90kg

Worlds first-timer CASSAR, 20, is the youngest member of Australia’s team for Baku 2018. The former -81kg judoka moved up to -90kg in 2017 and won bronze at the Taipei Open this year in his first event of his Tokyo 2020 qualification campaign. CASSAR made his IJF debut in July in Zagreb and experienced a second Grand Prix competition a month later in Budapest.

Instagram: @hcassar97

Liam PARK +100kg

Oceania Championships winner PARK, 22, made his World Championships bow in 2015 on his IJF World Judo Tour debut. This year has been the busiest of his young career after travelling to four Grand Prix (Agadir, Hohhot, Zagreb and Budapest) in three continents. PARK has medalled once outside of his home continent when he won bronze at the Taipei Open last year.

Instagram: @pappiparkos

Austria (AUT)

Sabrina FILZMOSER -57kg

Three-time Olympian FILZMOSER, 38, is one-of-a-kind. The double world bronze medallist will make a record 13th appearance at the Worlds this year having not missed a single edition since her 1999 debut. FILZMOSER is a member of the IJF Athletes commission and is known for working with social projects including scaling Mt Ama Dablam in the Himalaya range of eastern Nepal as part of an IJF Judo for Peace activity.

Instagram: @sabshero

Kathrin UNTERWURZACHER -63kg

Two-time Grand Slam winner UNTERWURZACHER, 26, is one of Austria’s most consistent judoka. The Innsbruck-based Rio 2016 Olympian has amassed 14 Grand Prix medals, five Grand Slam medals and a World Judo Masters silver medal. However, seventh-place is her best result at a Worlds and that came in 2014. Former Tokyo Grand Slam winner UNTERWURZACHER has missed the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification period through injury and makes her first start of the 2018 season in Baku.

Instagram: @KathrinUNTERWURZACHER

Magdalena KRSSAKOVA -63kg

Two-time Grand Prix winner KRSSAKOVA, 24, has stood out this year in the absence of her compatriot in the -63kg category. The osoto-gari specialist won the Antalya Grand Prix in April following bronze in Tunis as she has proved herself to be more than an understudy to teammate UNTERWURZACHER. KRSSAKOVA appears at the Worlds for the second time after a spirited run last year when she was stopped in the third round by Olympic champion and eventual silver medallist Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO).

Instagram: @lenka.63

Michaela POLLERES -70kg

European Championships bronze medallist POLLERES, 21, is the latest female talent off the Austrian production line. The Junior Worlds bronze medallist has already won two Grand Prix bronze medals and could make an impression on her inaugural appearance at the senior World Championships in Azerbaijan.

Instagram: @michaelapolleres

Bernadette GRAF -70kg

Four-time Grand Prix winner GRAF, 26, finished fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympics as she lost her bronze medallist contest to Sally CONWAY (GBR). The long-time -70kg standout moved up to -78kg in 2017 and has a Grand Prix win (Hohhot) to her name at the heavier weight. GRAF lost out to eventual world champion Mayra AGUIAR (BRA) last year and, with an unseeded position, will be a difficult proposition for the top-ranked -78kg athletes in Baku as she begins her quest for Tokyo 2020 qualification.

Instagram: @bernadette.graf

Lukas REITER -73kg

Oberwart European Open winner REITER, 22, first appeared on the IJF World Judo Tour in 2016 and made his Worlds debut last year. He holds a win over London 2012 Olympic champion Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) at the 2017 European Championships and the Georgian would crave a rematch in Baku.

Instagram: @lukas_reiter73

Christopher WAGNER -73kg

Former Junior European Championships bronze medallist WAGNER, 21, will make his senior World Championships bow in the land of fire. Vienna man WAGNER has faced off with some of the best -73kg judoka in the world on the IJF circuit and has beaten highly-rated judoka such as three-time Grand Prix winner Zhansay SMAGULOV (KAZ) and two-time Grand Prix champion SAIYINJIRIGALA (CHN).

Instagram: @christopher___wagner

Laurin BOEHLER -100kg

Two-time Ekaterinburg Grand Slam bronze medallist BOEHLER, 23, has caught the eye in the post-Rio 2016 era with some medal-winning displays and thunderous ippons. BOEHLER took an impressive fifth-place at his first Tokyo Grand Slam last year and will be looking to make a name for himself at his second World Championships.

Instagram: @laurin_boehler

Aaron FARA -100kg

Former Junior European Championships winner FARA, 21, has received his first call-up for the World Championships. The four-time Grand Prix participant, who finished seventh at the European Championships in April, will look to employ his uchi-mata to good effect to leave Baku with a contest win under his belt.

Stephan HEGYI +100kg

Junior World Championships silver medallist HEGYI, 20, is one of the most talented prospects in the men’s heavyweight division. The Vienna judoka has already won two Grand Prix silver medals including a spirited losing effort against heavyweight phenomenon Teddy RINER (FRA) last year while still a teenager. HEGYI has form this year after winning bronze at the European Championships and silver at the Budapest Grand Prix in August.

Daniel ALLERSTORFER +100kg

Three-time Grand Prix medallist ALLERSTORFER, 25, finished seventh at the World Championships last year. The ever-improving heavyweight stunned two medal contenders as he eliminated two-time Grand Slam winner OJITANI Takeshi (JPN) and 2015 world bronze medallist Yakiv KHAMMO (UKR). ALLERSTORFER will again be unseeded at the IJF showpiece event but will command the respect of his peers this time around.

Instagram: @el_danisan

Azerbaijan (AZE)

Aisha GURBANLI -48kg

Minsk European Open bronze medallist GURBANLI, 25, makes her World Championships debut at home in Baku. The ippon-seoi-nage master has previously fought at Grand Prix, Grand Slam and European Championships events and has placed fifth and seventh at a Grand Prix and seven on the Grand Slam stage. GURBANLI will look to set the tone for the hosts’ women’s team by producing a battling display on day one.

Buyankhishig PUREVSUREN -52kg

Former Mongolian international PUREVSUREN, 20, sees action at her second World Championships and can expect a wealth of support from the home fans. PUREVSUREN won bronze at the Mongolian championships in 2016 and a year later won Azerbaijan’s national championships. PUREVSUREN has toyed with the idea of a switch to -57kg after several run outs at the heavier weight but is inscribed at -52kg for the Worlds and will be keen to put in an encouraging display following a seventh-place finish at the Minsk European Open.

Gultaj MAMMADALIYEVA -52kg

Junior European Championships bronze medallist MAMMADALIYEVA, 18, is one of Azerbaijan’s most lauded homegrown judoka in their ever-increasing women’s team. The teenager finished seventh at the Baku Grand Slam last year and will have nothing to fear about the occasion. MAMMADALIYEVA will bid to capitalise on the home setting and deliver a fairytale debut at the World Championships.

Instagram: @g.memmedeliyeva_52

Ichinkhorloo MUNKHTSEDEV -57kg

Former Cadet Asian Championships gold medallist MUNKHTSEDEV, 20, won bronze at the Azerbaijan national championships last year. MUNKHTSEDEV debuted at the World Championships in 2017 where she lost her opening contest against Jaione EQUISOAIN (ESP) on penalties. The youngster can expect to experience the greatest atmosphere and level of competition in her burgeoning career so far.

Ulviyya RAHIMLI -57kg

IJF World Judo Tour rookie RAHIMLI, 19, steps up to the leading competition on the circuit for the first time. RAHIMLI only arrived on the scene this year when she made her first trip outside of her homeland in April for the European Championships. The Azeri has since been to three Junior European Cup events and the Budapest Grand Prix where she was held down by Dewy KARTHAUS (NED) with a yoko-shiho-gatame.

Iryna KINDZERSKA +78kg

Ukraine-born KINDZERSKA, 27, switched to Azerbaijan last year and had a sensational impact for the hosts of the 2018 World Championships. KINDZERSKA won world bronze last year in just her second competition for the Azeri. The osoto-gari specialist has won bronze medals this year at Grand Slam events in Paris and Düsseldorf to establish herself in the world’s top 10 and will be seeded in her adopted homeland at Baku 2018.

Orkhan SAFAROV -60kg

World silver medallist SAFAROV, 27, is one his country’s leading contenders for gold at Baku 2018. Former World Judo Masters winner SAFAROV finished fifth at the European Championships this year up at -66kg but has reverted back to his traditional home of -60kg for his fourth Worlds campaign. The Azeri capped his 2013 World Championships debut with bronze and has the pedigree to get his country off to a flying start on day one.

Instagram: @safarov_orkhan

Nijat SHIKHALIZADA -66kg

Three-time Grand Prix gold medallist SHIKHALIZADA, 29, is the youngest male medallist at a World Championships of all time. SHIKHALIZADA was just 16 when he won bronze at the 2005 Worlds in Cairo, Egypt, and that accomplishment remains the greatest achievement of his long and successful career. The crowd-pleasing Azeri has to go back to October 2017 for his last IJF medal (Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver) but is capable of putting a run together and shocking the favourites along the way.

Instagram: @nijat_shikhalizada

Rustam ORUJOV -73kg

Olympic and world silver medallist ORUJOV, 26, has won five Grand Prix titles and two Grand Slam gold medals. The star of the Azeri team took silver at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam in February and bronze at the Zagreb Grand Prix to hit his stride in time for the greatest world title bid of his career. ORUJOV has lost two major finals in two years to different Japanese opposition but will be ready for any opponent at home in the land of fire.

Instagram: @rustam_orujov

Olympic and world silver medallist Rustam ORUJOV (AZE)

Hidayat HEYDAROV -73kg

HEYDAROV, 21, is the new kid on the block for Azerbaijan at -73kg. He signalled his arrival in 2017 by winning the European Championships, Junior European Championships and Junior World Championships as well a bronze medal at his first World Judo Masters in December. HEYDAROV could kickstart his quest for a Tokyo 2020 spot by stealing the headlines in Baku and comes into the event on the back of winning bronze at the Antalya Grand Prix and silver at the European Championships.

Instagram: @heydarov_73

Mammadali MEHDIYEV -90kg

Six-time Grand Prix medallist MEHDIYEV, 25, is back for another tilt at world glory after finishing seventh on his debut a year ago. The ippon-seoi-nage expert will be a key component in his country’s team ambitions on the last day but first will focus on being in medal contention in the individual competition at -90kg. MEHDIYEV won bronze at the Antalya Grand Prix in April and achieved the same result at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July.

Instagram: @m.mehdiyev90

Tural SAFGULIYEV -90kg

Four-time Grand Prix medallist SAFGULIYEV, 27, is included in Azerbaijan’s World Championships squad for the second year in a row. SAFGULIYEV, who won the Baku Grand Prix in 2012, has been among the medals in 2018 having clinched bronze at the Antalya Grand Prix but is still considered as an outside chance at home in the -90kg category.

Instagram: @safguliyev

Zelym KOTSOIEV -100kg

Junior World Championships gold medallist KOTSOIEV, 20, is a young man with a big reputation after excelling at the junior level and has already tasted IJF World Judo Tour gold. KOTSOIEV, once of Ukraine, won the last edition of the Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix in 2016 while still a teenager and returned to the top step of the IJF podium this year when he struck gold at the Antalya Grand Prix before capturing bronze at the European Championships.

Instagram: @zelimkotsoev

Elmar GASIMOV -100kg

Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist GASIMOV, 27, picked up his first World Championships hardware last year in Budapest. The former world number one won bronze at Budapest 2017 as he won four contests and only lost to eventual winner WOLF Aaron (JPN) in the quarter-final. The two-time Olympian, who is dubbed ‘King Gasimov’, won the Minsk European Open last time out in August and is on track to challenge at home.

Instagram: @kingasimov

Ushangi KOKAURI +100kg

Former Almaty Grand Prix silver medallist KOKAURI, 26, will hope to be the last man standing for Azerbaijan on day seven. KOKAURI, who hails from Georgia, has represented the land of fire on the senior stage since 2013. The Rio 2016 heavyweight won the Saarbrucken European Cup in July as he won all four of his contests by ippon and is tasked with ending the individual competition on a high for the hosts.

Instagram: @ushangi.kokauri

Bahamas (BAH)

Breanna MAJOR -70kg

MAJOR, 18, who comes from Nassau City, New Providence, Bahamas, will travel abroad for a judo competition for the first time. The koshi-guruma technician will be introduced to international competition at the global spectacle that is the World Championships to accelerate her development and with one eye on the Junior World Championships in Nassau, Bahamas in October. MAJOR has been performing well on the national stage and is a long-term hope for the nation that hosted the Commonwealth Youth Games last year.

Bangladesh (BAN)

Farina KHANOM -70kg

KHANOM, 22, is a complete unknown as the Bangladesh judoka has never fought internationally. KHANOM regards ippon-seoi-nage as her best technique but will be up against the greatest challenge in her life as she prepares to face elite opposition on the world stage.

Tahmina Aktar LOPA +78kg

Heavyweight LOPA, 19, is also new to the international scene. LOPA, who favours her powerful tai-otoshi, will have to wait until day seven to compete and will be the last member of the Bangladesh team to fight in Baku.

Md Jomir Uddin RONY -60kg

IJF World Judo Tour newcomer RONY, 23, will kick things off for Bangladesh when he sees action on day one. RONY, who will look to employ his go-to technique, uchi-mata, from the outset can expert a gigantic entry in the -60kg category and to be paired against a top-tier athlete.

Md Abul Kalam AJAD -90kg

AJAD, 19, will give his all in the -90kg category where his skill, power and conditioning will be severely tested. AJAD will not be too concerned with the draw because whoever comes out of the hat will be a ranked, and more than likely, a renowned name in one of the most talent-rich divisions in the sport.

Belarus (BLR)

Kseniya DANILOVICH -52kg

Minsk European Open gold medallist DANILOVICH, 24, makes her first start at the World Championships on the back of her first gold medal above the domestic level. DANILOVICH won in Belarus’ capital city in August by winning all three of her contests by ippon.

Instagram: @kseniya_danilovich

Maryna SLUTSKAYA +78kg

Former European Championships gold medallist SLUTSKAYA, 27, could be a front-runner for her country in Baku. The two-time Worlds entrant will be seeded and should power her way into the final block for Belarus. SLUTSKAYA, a winner of seven Grand Prix medals, took silver at the Budapest Grand Prix in August with three wins by ippon and a narrow loss to Cuban legend Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) in the final.

Instagram: @slutskaya_maryna

Dzmitry MINKOU -66kg

Two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist MINKOU, 22, finished seventh at the Worlds last year and has since won his first gold medal on the IJF World Judo Tour. The 2017 Tashkent Grand Prix winner has defeated world-class judoka such as former world number one DAVAADORJ Tumurkhuleg (MGL) and world bronze medallist Tal FLICKER (ISR). No Belarus judoka has ever medalled at the Worlds in the -66kg category.

Instagram: @dzmitry_minkou

Dzmitry SHERSHAN -66kg

Former World Judo Masters runner-up SHERSHAN, 29, won bronze at the European Championships in April and forms a strong -66kg double act with MINKOU for his country. Only one of the duo can be selected to Tokyo 2020 – subject to qualifying – and Baku 2018 will be a crucial juncture to the Olympic ambitions of both men.

Vadzim SHOKA -73kg

Prague European Open bronze medallist SHOKA, 28, will engage in his third World Championships in Baku. The ippon-seoi-nage specialist, who is ranked just outside the world’s top 50 judoka, finished fifth at the European Championships in April to prove that he merits a call-up to top IJF events. SHOKA posted a 4:2 record at the continental championships and will be targeting individual and team joy with Belarus at Baku 2018.

Instagram: @vadik73shoka

Yahor VARAPAYEU -90kg

Ekaterinburg Grand Slam silver medallist VARAPAYEU, 21, has shown his ability and vast potential on the IJF World Judo Tour by winning a brace of medals over the last 12 months. VARAPAYEU opened his IJF account by winning bronze at the Tashkent Grand Prix in October and earned a surprise silver medal in Russia in March. The Belarus prospect beat Mongolian, Russian and Italian opposition before being held down by world number one Aleksandar KUKOLJ (SRB) in the final.

Instagram: @egorvoropaev

Viktar KLIAVUSAU -90kg

Minsk European Open gold medallist KLIAVUSAU, 21, makes his first appearance on the IJF World Judo Tour in Azerbaijan. The two-time Junior European Cup bronze medallist won all six of his contests to strike gold at home in Minsk. All six victories were by ippon as credible opponents from Russia, Egypt, Netherlands, U.A.E and Ukraine all tumbled to the impressive home judoka.

Daniel MUKETE -100kg

Ekaterinburg Grand Slam bronze medallist MUKETE, 20, has progressed a lot further than many expected at this stage of his career. The osoto-gari specialist is still in his first full year on the IJF World Judo Tour but has won Grand Slam honours, placed at the European Championships as well as a Grand Prix to merit his selection to his first World Championships.

Instagram: @danik_mukete

Mikita SVIRYD -100kg

Minsk judoka SVIRYD, 22, placed seventh at the Paris Grand Slam at the start of the year as he went 2:2 at France’s showpiece judo event. SVIRYD is edging closer to opening his IJF World Judo Tour medal account and will be hopeful of progressing past the first round where he exited this event last year after a tough Worlds initiation against Andy GRANDA (CUB).

Instagram: @mikita_sviryd

Uladzislau TSIARPITSKI +100kg

Two-time and reigning Minsk European Open champion TSIARPITSKI, 23, will be the last man up for Belarus. The heavyweight challenger has only made a handful of appearances on the IJF World Judo Tour and will look to his uchi-mata to set him on his way to advancing through several rounds on day seven. On his Worlds debut TSIARPITSKI lost out to KIM Sungmin (KOR) at Budapest 2017 by a waza-ari score from a harai-makikomi.

Belgium (BEL)

Anne Sophie JURA -48kg

Silverware has narrowly eluded the lightest member of Belgium’s team, JURA, 26, on the IJF World Judo Tour and at the European Championships this year. The Colfontaine fighter finished fifth at the Budapest Grand Prix last time out following the same finish at the Euro’s and a seventh-place result at the Russian Grand Slam. The Université Catholique de Louvain Masters student will be making her Worlds debut.

Instagram: @annesophiejura

Charline VAN SNICK -52kg

London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist VAN SNICK, 27, moved up from -48kg following her second Olympics in 2016 and has made a smooth transition to her new domain. VAN SNICK had a below-par first Worlds appearance at -52kg last year after suffering a third round exit but will be a different prospect this time around with a further 12 months of experience under her belt in one of the sport’s most talked about weight divisions.

Instagram: @chavansnick

Mina LIBEER -57kg

Gent native LIBEER, 20, won Junior World Championships bronze last year in her final junior event. The Saarbrücken European Cup winner has since become a fixture in her country’s senior team and has managed a best result of fifth-place at The Hague Grand Prix last year. LIBEER will be a new name in the -57kg draw at the senior Worlds.

Instagram: @minalibeer

Roxane TAEYMANS -70kg

Tunis Grand Prix silver medallist TAEYMANS, 27, has been a regular on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2013. The uchi-mata technician is balancing full-time judo with her second Masters degree as the Tokyo 2020 hopeful is studying Management at KU Leuven, a research university in the Dutch-speaking town of Leuven in Flanders, Belgium.

Instagram: @roxane_taeymans

Gabriella WILLEMS -70kg

Junior World Championships bronze medallist WILLEMS, 21, has stepped up to the senior circuit in 2018 and has produced a number of promising displays. Brussels-based WILLEMS placed seventh on her Grand Prix debut in Agadir in March and has tested herself against the leading names of the category such as Olympic bronze medallist Sally CONWAY (GBR) and world bronze medallist Maria BERNABEU (ESP) who will be among the -70kg favourites in Baku.

Instagram: @gabgabiche

Sophie BERGER -78kg

Minsk European Open silver medallist BERGER, 21, is new to the rigours of the IJF World Judo Tour having only stepped up to the elite stage in July. Liège judoka BERGER fought at the Zagreb Grand Prix and Budapest Grand Prix to get her top-flight career underway and will be aiming to register her first score at this level when she makes her Worlds debut in Azerbaijan.

Instagram: @soso_be_it

Jorre VERSTRAETEN -60kg

Cancun Grand Prix bronze medallist VERSTRAETEN, 20, will run out at a World Championships for the first time in Baku. Bertem-based VERSTRAETEN has seen action at two Grand Prix and a Grand Slam this season with a seventh-place finish in Tunisia’s Grand Prix standing as his best result ahead of his introduction to the World Championships.

Instagram: @jorreverstraeten

Joran SCHILDERMANS -60kg

Brazil-born SCHILDERMANS, 25, is a late bloomer having only arrived on the IJF circuit a year ago. SCHILDERMANS, who now fights out of Limburg, won bronze at the Prague European Open in March and will make a major jump up in terms of competition and opposition when he starts for Belgium at his first World Championships.

Kenneth VAN GANSBEKE -66kg

Nineteen-time IJF Grand Prix participant VAN GANSBEKE, 28, has twice walked away up from the said event having lost a bronze medallist contest. While an IJF medal is still an immediate goal of the experienced Belgian, he put together a run of five contest wins to come out on top at the Madrid European Open in June. VAN GANSBEKE tapped out world silver medallist Orkhan SAFAROV (AZE) in July with his juji-gatame which he perfected under the tutelage of former coach and IJF Hall of Famer Neil ADAMS.

Instagram: @kenneth.van.gansbeke

Dirk VAN TICHELT -73kg

Olympic bronze medallist VAN TICHELT, 34, is the most decorated male judoka in the Belgium team at Baku 2018. The two-time world bronze medallist will fight for the first time since becoming a dad for the second time in August. VAN TICHELT, who hails from Antwerp, last graced a medal podium in Rio de Janeiro when he submitted UNGVARI Miklos (HUN) with a juji-gatame in the finest moment of his lengthy and highly-successful career.

Instagram: @dirkvantichelt

Matthias CASSE -81kg

Junior world champion CASSE, 21, has quickly established himself as a contender on the senior stage at -81kg. CASSE made history in 2017 when he became his country’s first junior world champion since 1986 and has more than held his own in 2018 with two Grand Prix silver medals to his name. It would be a mistake to underestimate the young Belgian on his first challenge at the World Championships.

Instagram: @matthiascasse

Sami CHOUCHI -81kg

European Championships silver medallist CHOUCHI, 25, will make his inaugural quest for World honours in Baku. CHOUCHI made his senior IJF debut in 2014 at the Samsun Grand Prix and has seen a bronze medal fall from his clutches on four occasions after losing bronze medal contests in Hungary, Cuba, South Korea and Croatia. The Belgian will be unseeded but will hope to emulate his European heroics and force his way into medal contention at his first attempt.

Instagram: @samichouchi

Benin (BEN)

Auguste DAGA -66kg

One-time World Championships participant DAGA, 24, is winless thus far on the IJF World Judo Tour after competing at the 2017 Worlds, 2018 Paris Grand Slam and Grand Prix in Zagreb and Budapest this summer. His Olympic dream will be not be under threat at the World Championships. DAGA prepared for the competition by working out at the IJF Training Centre in Dunavarsány, Hungary, where he added to his existing skillset and his polished ippon-seoi-nage by exposing himself to more accomplished judoka which will put him in a good position to challenge at the 2019 edition of the African Championships.

Instagram: @ralph_ari

Celtus Williams Abiola DOSSOU YOVO -90kg

Two-time World Championships competitor DOSSOU YOVO caused a shock at the Rio 2016 Olympics by eliminating former Budapest Grand Prix winner Celio DIAS (POR) by ippon with a tani-otoshi. The Benin judoka has had his Olympic moment but is still bidding for his first contest win on the IJF World Judo Tour and would love to achieve that at judo’s annual supershow.

Bhutan (BHU)

Ngawang NAMGYEL -66kg

Bhutan have been members of the IJF since 2016 and join the biggest annual competition in judo for the first time this year. Little-known teenager NAMGYEL, 19, is a newcomer to the IJF World Judo Tour. The Bhutan judoka finished fifth at the Hong Kong Junior Asian Cup last year and lost in the first round at the same event in 2018. NAMGYEL will be one of the least experienced judoka in the competition as he fights in his first senior event overseas.

Kinley TSHERING -73kg

The second member of Bhutan’s Worlds team, TSHERING, who lists tai-otoshi as his favourite technique, has benefited from working out with London 2012 Olympic silver medallist and three-time world medallist HIRAOKA Hiroaki (JPN). The Japanese has visited Bhutan for a number of judo clinics as the country bids to improve their technical ability. TSHERING fought at the Hong Kong Junior Asian Cup in July where he lost out in the preliminaries.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH)

Larisa CERIC +78kg

Openweight world silver medallist Larisa CERIC, 27, is one of Europe’s strongest heavyweights in the +78kg category. European Championships silver medallist CERIC won the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam in March and took silver at the Antalya Grand Prix. The two-time World Judo Masters bronze medallist will expect to be in the medal hunt and will be one of the top seeds in Baku.

Instagram: @lakyca

Petar ZADRO -66kg

Former European Youth Olympic Festival silver medallist ZADRO, 22, has long been a highly-touted prospect for his country. The Sarajevo European Cup winner has not made his presence felt at the senior level yet but is still relatively new to the elite circuit. ZADRO made his World Championships debut in 2017 when he lost his opening contest to MINKOU (BLR) after picking up a third shido.

Instagram: @petarzadro

Harun SADIKOVIC +100kg

Heavyweight prospect SADIKOVIC, 22, is best known for his silver medal at the Cadet World Championships in 2013. The Bihać-based judoka showed his potential in 2017 when he finished fifth at both the Paris Grand Slam and European Championships. In Paris, SADIKOVIC defeated legendary Russian heavyweight Alexander MIKHAYLIN, 2016 World Judo Masters winner Daniel NATEA (ROU) and former world bronze medallist Faicel JABALLAH (TUN).

Instagram: @harunjudo

Botswana (BOT)

Edwin SELLO -60kg

Former Cadet African Championships bronze medallist SELLO, 20, is set to fly the flag for Botswana at a World Championships for the second time. SELLO won his opening contest at Budapest 2017 over Lei Wai NG (MAC) by scoring twice without reply and with different techniques as a soto-makikomi and uchi-mata-sukashi saw him progress. The African youngster was held down in the next round by Mukhriddin TILOVOV (UZB).

Letlhogile Tshenolo TSHEKO -66kg

Junior Commonwealth Championships bronze medallist TSHEKO, 20, graces the IJF World Judo Tour for the first time in the largest city on the Caspian Sea. TSHEKO, who hails from Ramotswa and is now based in Gaborone, will be second up for Botswana in Baku. The -66kg judoka may call on his crisp uchi-mata as he starts a journey which he hopes will eventually see him secure a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Gavin MOGOPA -66kg

Former Commonwealth Championships bronze medallist MOGOPA, 22, has been a regular on the international circuit since 2015. Rio 2016 Olympian MOGOPA put himself on the radar of many when he narrowly missed out on bronze at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games as he finished fifth after defeat to Jorre VERSTRAETEN (BEL). The Botswana judoka is aiming to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and to medal at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, England.

Instagram: @gavinmogopa

Thato LEBANG -73kg

Former Junior Commonwealth Championships gold medallist LEBANG, 22, finished a career-best seventh-place at the African Championships this year. LEBANG, who comes from his country’s capital city of Gaborone, made his Worlds debut in 2017 where he lost his opening contest against Alexandru RAICU (ROU) via a yoko-shiho-gatame hold down.

Instagram: @kevinlebang

Tirelo LEKOKO -73kg

World Championships freshman LEKOKO, 22, will be part of Botswana’s five-man team at Baku 2018. LEKOKO fought at the Junior World Championships in 2011 and the African Championships in 2012 in the -55kg category. The fledgling fighter returned to active competition this year but as a competitor in the -73kg category. The world number 414, who skipped the -60kg and -66kg categories to jump up to -73kg, lost his opening contest at the continental championships this year to Mulaza PINTO PANZO (ANG) by a waza-ari score.

Instagram: @tirelolekoko

Brazil (BRA)

Gabriela CHIBANA -48kg

Two-time Grand Prix winner CHIBANA, 25, teams up with her cousin Charles Chibana for World Championships duty for the first time in her career. Cancun Grand Prix winner CHIBANA, who comes from one of the most famous and biggest judo families in Brazil, started her Tokyo 2020 qualification campaign with a fifth-place finish at the Hohhot Grand Prix in May after losing out to former world champion MUNKHBAT Urantsetseg (MGL) for bronze.

Instagram: @gabichibana

Erika MIRANDA -52kg

Judo Sogipa ace MIRANDA, 31, has been prolific at the World Championships with medal-winning performances in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. The four-time Grand Slam winner has won one silver and three bronze at the Worlds but never gold. The Brazilian veteran, who will be seeded for Baku, has been fine tuning her skills in Celje, Slovenia with her own teammate PORTELA and members of the Slovenian national team including Olympic -57kg champion Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO).

Instagram: @erikamirandajudo

Jessica PEREIRA -52kg

Tunis Grand Prix winner PEREIRA, 23, has come to the fore post-Rio 2016 and has started to put her teammate MIRANDA under pressure. Only one of them can compete at an Olympics but both can be called upon for a World Championships and PEREIRA has received the nod to make her first appearance at the annual supershow. The young Brazilian won bronze at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam in March before winning the Pan American Championships and is one of the form judoka in the category.

Instagram: @jessicapereirajudo

Rafaela SILVA -57kg

Olympic champion and 2013 world champion Rafaela SILVA, 26, produced one of the most famous victories at the Rio 2016 Games. A product of Instituto Reação, a social project headed by Brazilian legend Flavio CANTO, SILVA became the first Brazilian women to win the Worlds in 2013 and again won in her home city of Rio de Janeiro at her country’s first Olympics. SILVA won the Budapest Grand Prix in August after winning all five of her contests in the Hungarian capital.

Instagram: @rafaelasilvaa

Ketleyn QUADROS -63kg

Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist QUADROS, 30, won the Cancun Grand Prix last year to prolong her top-flight career. The veteran judoka is now in her fourth Olympic cycle and will be confident of matching or improving on her seventh-place finish from a year ago. QUADROS has produced fifth-place finishes this year at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam and Hohhot Grand Prix.

Instagram: @ketleynquadros

Maria PORTELA -70kg

World Judo Masters winner PORTELA, 30, is in the prime of her career. The Porto Alegre judoka has now won Grand Prix gold, Grand Slam gold and World Judo Masters gold and will be tipped to open her World Championships medal account in Baku. PORTELA made her Worlds debut in 2009 and will be a key member for Brazil this year in both the individual and team competition.

Instagram: @mariaportela

Mayra AGUIAR -78kg

Two-time and reigning world champion AGUIAR, 27, has not won gold in her six events since regaining the world crown last year. However, Judo Sogipa fighter AGUIAR has placed in all six events including a silver medal at the Hohhot Grand Prix, the first Tokyo 2020 qualification event, and always raises her game on the biggest stage as her two Olympic bronze medals can attest to.

Instagram: @mayraaguiarjudo

Maria Suelen ALTHEMAN +78kg

Four-time Grand Slam winner ALTHEMAN, 30, is a two-time World Championships finalist but came away with silver in 2013 and 2014. The vastly-experienced heavyweight exited the Worlds in the preliminaries in 2015 and 2017 but has been in around the medals since then including bronze at the Tokyo Grand Slam, World Judo Masters and most recently the Hohhot Grand Prix.

Instagram: @susu_altheman

Beatriz SOUZA +78kg

World Championships newcomer SOUZA, 20, is in her first full year on the IJF World Judo Tour but has already captured Grand Prix and Grand Slam honours. The two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist also took silver at the Tunis Grand Prix this year to break into the world’s top 10 on the IJF World Ranking List for the first time in her career.

Instagram: @biarodrigz

Eric TAKABATAKE -60kg

Former Havana Grand Prix gold medallist TAKABATAKE, 27, makes his fourth appearance at a World Championships when he competes for Brazil in Baku. In 2014 and 2015, TAKABATAKE advanced to the third round while last year he fell in his opening contest to former world champion Yeldos SMETOV (KAZ). The -60kg judoka won bronze at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam in February.

Instagram: @erictakabatake

Phelipe PELIM -60kg

Four-time Grand Prix medallist PELIM, 28, is Brazil’s number two at -60kg behind TAKABATAKE. São Paulo-based PELIM had a breakout year on the IJF World Judo Tour in 2017 as he won bronze in Düsseldorf and Tbilisi and silver at the Cancun Grand Prix. PELIM won a brace of contests on his first Worlds start a year ago before exiting the competition in round three against Mukhriddin TILOVOV (UZB).

Instagram: @phelipepelim

Daniel CARGNIN -66kg

Junior world champion CARGNIN, 20, stepped onto a senior IJF medal podium for the first time in 2018 and will now take on the best judoka in the world at his first World Championships. Judo Sogipa starlet CARGNIN took silver at the Tbilisi Grand Prix as he has been gradually exposed to bigger events by the CBJ and will be a name to keep tabs on in this Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle and beyond.

Instagram: @dadscargnin66

Charles CHIBANA -66kg

Two-time Grand Slam winner CHIBANA, 28, will make his fifth start at a World Championships in Baku. Former world number one CHIBANA recorded his best result at home in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 when he finished fifth after losing out to FUKUOKA Masaaki (JPN). The Brazilian has not medalled since May 2017 but could string together a run of wins with a favourable draw.

Instagram: @cchibana

Eduardo Yudy SANTOS -81kg

Japan-born SANTOS, 23, arrived on the IJF World Judo Tour in 2017 and made an immediate impression. The São Paulo judoka finished fifth when he debuted at the Paris Grand Slam, one of the sport’s flagship events. SANTOS placed seventh at the Tokyo Grand Slam and fifth at the invite-only World Judo Masters before earning his first IJF silverware in January when he won bronze at the Tunis Grand Prix.

Instagram: @santos_yudy

Victor PENALBER -81kg

Former world bronze medallist PENALBER, 28, is one the most experienced and renowned judoka in Brazil’s team for Baku 2018. The former world number one won his first IJF gold medal back at the last edition of the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam in 2012. PENALBER is under pressure to follow the exploits of previous incumbents Tiago CAMILO and Flavio CANTO who both won Olympic bronze at -81kg.

Instagram: @victorpenalber

Rafael MACEDO -90kg

Former Junior World Championships winner MACEDO, 23, is at the forefront of a new generation, the Tokyo 2020 generation, that Brazil have turned to post-Rio 2016. MACEDO stamped his name on the IJF World Judo Tour last year when he captured a silver medal at the Zagreb Grand Prix. The osoto-gari expert won the Tbilisi Grand Prix in March as he won all four of his contests to strike gold and could spring a surprise or two in Baku on his first start at the World Championships.

Instagram: @_rmacedo

David MOURA +100kg

World silver medallist MOURA, 31, was left out of the Rio 2016 team in favour of his teammate Rafael SILVA. MOURA, who is also fluent in English, reacted in the best possible way by taking his career to unchartered heights with his first Grand Prix win, his first Grand Slam win and a career-best World Championships final where he lost out to Teddy RINER (FRA). MOURA will be seeded and will have the belief that he can go all the way in Azerbaijan.

Instagram: @davidmourajudo

Rafael SILVA +100kg

Double Olympic bronze medallist SILVA, 31, has won medals on every stage in the sport and is well-placed to challenge in Azerbaijan. The former world number one has won three World Championships medals and has form in 2018 after picking up bronze medals at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam and Hohhot Grand Prix. SILVA will also be seeded as Brazil double up at +100kg and will have a major role in the deciding the destination of the world heavyweight title for 2018.

Instagram: @rafaelsilvababy

Bulgaria

Ivelina ILIEVA -57kg

Two-time Grand Prix bronze medallist ILIEVA, 27, will campaign at her sixth World Championships for Bulgaria. The former European Championships silver medallist will have the ambition of reaching the latter round at the Worlds for the first time. ILIEVA will not be seeded and could face world-class opposition in her opening contest in Baku.

Instagram: @ilieva.ivi

Yanislav GERCHEV -60kg

European Championships silver medallist GERCHEV, 28, is aiming to convert continental success into world honours. Plovdiv native GERCHEV showed that his 2017 European silver was not a one-off as he repeated that result in 2018. Azerbaijan’s capital city has already proven to be a happy hunting ground for the tai-otoshi aficionado who won bronze at the Baku Grand Slam last year which still stands as his best result on the IJF World Judo Tour.

Instagram: @yanislavgerchev

Valentin ALIPIEV -60kg

Former Junior European Cup silver medallist ALIPIEV, 23, makes his World Championships debut at Baku 2018. The Bulgarian, who is also a keen photographer, managed a fifth-place at the Sofia European Open in February which is his best outing in 2018 thus far. ALIPIEV holds wins over former European champion Sofiane MILOUS (FRA) among others but will have a hard day in front of him in Baku.

Instagram: @v.alipiev

Bozhidar TEMELKOV -66kg

World Championships rookie TEMELKOV, 20, who has a sambo background, has won two Junior Continental Cup titles this year after a flurry of ippons in Panama and Casablanca. The Bulgarian was brought back down to earth when he lost his opening contests at the Zagreb Grand Prix and Budapest Grand Prix this summer. TEMELKOV fought at the Cadet Worlds in 2013 and 2015, the Junior Worlds in 2015 and now completes the set this year.

Instagram: @btemelkov

Ivaylo IVANOV -81kg

One-time Grand Prix and one-time Grand Slam winner IVANOV, 24, has endured a barren spell on the IJF World Judo Tour over the last year. The four-time Grand Slam medallist last graced an IJF podium in February 2017 when he won bronze at the Düsseldorf Grand Prix. IVANOV finished seventh at the Rio 2016 Olympics and is due an upturn in form and there’s no better time to do it than in the land of fire.

Instagram: @ivaylo_z

Daniel DICHEV -100kg

Taipei Asian Open bronze medallist DICHEV, 27, finished seventh at The Hague Grand Prix last year which is the closest he’s come to IJF honours. Rank outsider DICHEV, who is a student at Nihon University, a private research University in Tokyo, Japan, competes at his fourth World Championships in Baku.

Instagram: @danieldichev

Burkina Faso (BUR)

Lucas DIALLO -73kg

World Championships tyro DIALLO, 22, started to compete internationally in 2017 and made his first IJF start in July at the Zagreb Grand Prix where he lost out to Marcel CERCEA (ROU) in the first round. DIALLO earned his first international contest win when he beat Lamine KANTE (MLI) by ippon at his first African Championships in April.

Burundi (BDI)

Nada KEZAKIMANA -48kg

Cadet African Championships bronze medallist KEZAKIMANA, who only turned 15 in February, will be the first of Burundi’s four-strong team to compete in Baku. After her continental exploits the Burundi Judo Federation decided to fast-track KEZAKIMANA to the elite stage with a surprise inclusion at for the eight-day extravaganza in Azerbaijan.

Ange Ciella NIRAGIRA -70kg

NIRAGIRA, 15, will be one of the youngest judoka in the competition from a field of over 800 judoka. NIRAGIRA has been busy on the domestic scene this year with outings at the Cadet African Championships, Junior African Championships and African Youth Games. The teenager finished fifth at all three events as her harai-goshi proved to be highly-effective.

Samuel KWITONDA -81kg

One-time World Championships participant KWITONDA, 23, has competed on the IJF World Judo Tour once every two years. KWITONDA fought at the 2014 World Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, the 2016 Almaty Grand Prix and is now back to make another tilt at the Worlds in 2018. Both of his two contest wins came at the African Championships in 2016 and 2017 as the Burundi judoka has not fought this season. KWITONDA has recently been training at the world-renowned Teni University in Japan which is home to Olympic champion ONO Shohei (JPN) and his mentor HOSOKAWA Shinji (JPN).

Fleury NIHOZEKO -100kg

Cadet African Championships gold medallist NIHOZEKO, 16, won all three contests by ippon on his way to his first continental title. The youngster went unbeaten in the +90kg category and a day later stepped up to the +100kg category at the Junior African Championships where lost both of his contests. Following his Worlds debut in Baku, NIHOZEKO could also be called upon for the Junior World Championships in the Bahamas in October.

Cameroon (CMR)

Philomene BATA -48kg

Five-time African Championships medallist BATA, 35, is a stalwart for her team and will be one of the oldest judoka in the eight-day competition this year. BATA lives in Hungary where she is supported to train at the IJF Training Centre in Dunavarsány. The Belgrade European Cup bronze medallist will be making her third appearance at a World Championships after forays in 2011 and 2017.

Helene WEZEU DOMBEU -63kg

Three-time African Championships bronze medallist WEZEU DOMBEU, 30, is set to enter her fifth World Championships. Paris-based WEZEU DOMBEU has been close to medalling on the IJF World Judo Tour on a number of occasions including a fifth-place finish at the Tyumen Grand Slam in 2016. The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist lost her first contest at the Paris Grand Slam in February against Stefania Adelina DOBRE (ROU) but will be motivated to progress beyond the second round at a World Championships for the first time.

Instagram: @hjudocmr

Ayuk Otay ARREY SOPHINA -70kg

Two-time African Open medallist ARREY SOPHINA, 24, makes her first World Championships appearance in Baku. ARREY SOPHINA is based at the IJF Training Centre in Dunavarsány, Hungary, where she has made progress under the expert eye of coach Florian VELICI. The African judoka lost her first contest at the Budapest Grand Prix against Alice BELLANDI (ITA).

Instagram: @sophina_otay

Audrey Dilane NJEPANG NJAPA -78kg

Former African Championships bronze medallist NJEPANG NJAPA, 22, launched her IJF career by testing herself at the World Championships last year. NJEPANG NJAPA fell to HE Huizhen (CHN) by ippon and returned to Budapest this year for a Grand Prix in August where she was disqualified against Melanie WALLIS (AUS) for receiving three penalties.

Hortence Vanessa MBALLA ATANGANA +78kg

Former African Championships winner MBALLA ATANGANA, 26, moved up from -78kg to the heavyweight category in 2017 and has enjoyed continental success since making the switch. MBALLA ATANGANA won heavyweight bronze at the African Championships last year, gold at the African Open and returned her continental championships bronze in 2018. The Rio 2016 Olympian will be participating at her fifth World Championships and has produced a best result of a fifth-place finish on the IJF World Judo Tour back in 2016 at the Samsun Grand Prix.

Bernadin TSALA TSALA -60kg

African Open gold medallist TSALA TSALA, 23, saw action at the 2015 World Championships where he was eliminated in the first round by Nuno CARVALHO (POR). The Cameroon judoka has not fought on the IJF World Judo Tour since then as he has focused purely on competitions in Africa. TSALA TSALA finished seventh at the African Championships this year in Tunisia as he matched his result from 2017 and 2016 while his best result still stands as a bronze medal at the continental championships back in in 2015.

Joseph HELL BAPOU -73kg

African Open silver medallist BAPOU, 30, made his World Championships bow back in 2013. BAPOU fell in the first round against Lwilli SANTANA (DOM) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The ippon-seoi-nage expert, who holds a victory over London 2012 Olympian Emmanuel NARTEY (GHA), beat Gabon and Cameroon opposition before falling to the well-travelled Facundo DE LUCIA (ARG) in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where he recorded a career-best continent open silver medal.

Willy Marvel NGOUOZEU MOYO -81kg

African Open bronze medallist NGOUOZEU MOYO, 29, will make his World Championships debut in Baku. NGOUOZEU MOYO will be one of the oldest debutants at a World Championships but has shown some encouraging displays in his own continent. The world number 97, at the time of writing this preview, grabbed the last place on the podium at the Open in his native Yaoundé in November and picked up a valuable fifth-place at his first African Championships in April.

Dieudonne DOLASSEM -90kg

Former IJF Athlete Commission member DOLASSEM, 38, is a famous judoka in Africa after competing for over a decade at the elite level. A role model for Cameroon and other African judoka, DOLASSEM, who has also fought in the openweight category, realised his dream when he appeared at the London 2012 Olympics. A 13-time African Championships medallist, the -90kg veteran will be fighting at his fourth Worlds in Baku.

Seidou NJI MOULUH -100kg

Three-time African Championships bronze medallist NJI MOULUH, 25, enters his first World Championships in Azerbaijan. NJI MOULUH finished fifth in his only competition of 2018 as he had a good day at the African Championships Openweight competition that culminated with a defeat in the bronze medal contest against former world bronze medallist Faicel JABALLAH (TUN).

Canada (CAN)

Ecaterina GUICA -52kg

Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist GUICA, 24, has been a regular on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2014. The Rio 2016 Olympian has won two Grand Prix medals and managed a fifth-place at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam last year. Montreal-based GUICA donned her judogi for Canada at the World Championships in 2015 and 2017 and will be confident of winning a contest at the IJF’s blue ribbon event at her third attempt.

Instagram: @categuica

Christa DEGUCHI -57kg

Paris Grand Slam winner DEGUCHI, 22, has been a revelation in 2018. The former Japan international, who still resides in the host country of next Olympiad, has already won five gold medals this year including at the Pan American Championships, Hohhot Grand Prix and Zagreb Grand Prix. DEGUCHI had pitched a 26-0 record this year, with all her victories coming by way of ippon, until the Budapest Grand Prix in August when was submitted by Olympic champion Rafaela SILVA (BRA). Self-described animal fact expert DEGUCHI, who started judo when she was three, makes her World Championships debut in Azerbaijan.

Instagram: @christa.deguchi

DEGUCHI (blue judogi) on the attack at the Paris Grand Slam

Jessica KLIMKAIT -57kg

Three-time Grand Prix medallist KLIMKAIT, 21, won back-to-back silver medals at the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification phase. KLIMKAIT finished second in Hohhot and Croatia behind teammate DEGUCHI who holds a 3:0 record over the former this year. Canada are blessed with two world-class judoka at -57kg and KLIMKAIT graced the stage last year as she reached round three and was also part of the team event as Canada finished fifth.

Instagram: @jessicaklimkait

Catherine BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD -63kg

Five-time Grand Prix medallist BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD, 24, moved up from -57kg to -63kg in 2017 and has quickly made her presence felt at the heavier weight. BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD, who started judo at the age of nine, won bronze in Zagreb and Hohhot this year to kickstart her qualification bid for Tokyo 2020 which would be her second Olympic Games following Rio 2016. The former Junior World Championships bronze medallist fights at -63kg at the senior Worlds for the first time in her career.

Instagram: @cbeaucheminpinard

Stefanie TREMBLAY -63kg

Canada also call on TREMBLAY, 28, at -63kg. The Hague Grand Prix bronze medallist will be competing at her fifth World Championships and will be hoping to achieve her first contest win on the biggest annual stage in the sport since 2013 when she humbled Jaione EQUISOAIN (ESP) by ippon. TREMBLAY has recorded two fifth-place finishes this year at the Pan American Championships and at the Budapest Grand Prix in August.

Instagram: @stefanie_judo

Kelita ZUPANCIC -70kg

Former world number one ZUPANCIC, 28, has long been a prolific medallist for her country on the IJF World Judo Tour. The nine-time Grand Prix medallist and 10-time Grand Slam medallist will be making her seventh appearance at the crown jewel of the IJF circuit. The Ontario judoka, whose a two-time Olympian, has already enjoyed one of her best years after winning a trio of silver medals at Grand Prix in Tbilisi, Agadir and Hohhot as well as bronze in Budapest.

Instagram: @kelitazupancic

Emily BURT -70kg

Montreal-based BURT, 20, is in her first full year on the IJF World Judo Tour and will be competing at the World Championships for the first time. BURT, who has a thunderous harai-goshi, earned a bronze medal at the Odivelas European Open in February and then quickly gained top-level experience with outings at the Paris Grand Slam and Grand Prix in Zagreb and Budapest.

Instagram: @emburtjudo

Arthur MARGELIDON -73kg

Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist MARGELIDON, 24, has become a household name in the -73kg category after using his Rio 2016 nightmare as fuel for a new Olympic bid. The Quebec judoka broke his arm one month before the Olympics and agonisingly had to watch from home. MARGELIDON made a name for himself at the Tokyo Grand Slam last year when he was a shock finalist as home judoka TATSUKAWA Arata (JPN) prevailed on shidos in a scoreless contest. The Canadian won bronze at the Budapest Grand Prix in August with his only defeat coming in the semi-final against eventual gold medallist UNGVARI Miklos (HUN).

Instagram: @a.margelidon

Antoine BOUCHARD -73kg

Pan American Championships winner BOUCHARD, 24, will contest his fourth World Championships as part of a 13-strong Canadian team. The Montreal judoka had the competition of his life at the Rio 2016 Olympics as he defeated standouts including World Championships silver medallist Mikhail PULIAEV (RUS) and former world number one DAVAADORJ Tumurkhuleg (MGL) to finish with a 4:2 record. BOUCHARD lost his bronze medal contest against three-time world champion EBINUMA Masashi (JPN).

Instagram: @bouchardjudo

Etienne BRIAND -81kg

Two-time Grand Prix medallist BRIAND, 25, has seen World Championships action in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. BRIAND has not won a contest at that level yet but has made a mark elsewhere on the IJF World Judo Tour after taking a silver medal at the Cancun Grand Prix last year and bronze at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam. Quebec fighter BRIAND will be unseeded at his first competition in Azerbaijan.

Instagram: @etienne_briand1

Zachary BURT -90kg

Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist BURT, 25, was a last-minute addition to the Canada team for Baku 2018. BURT will compete at this second World Championships following his introduction last year in Budapest where he went 1:1 in the individual event. The Tokyo 2020 hopeful was also part of the Canadian group who finished fifth in the team event and with his colleagues will present an even stronger bid for honours on the last day of the competition this year.

Instagram: @zachburt93

Louis KRIEBER GAGNON -90kg

Former Cadet World Championships winner KRIEBER GAGNON, 22, is still early in his transition to the senior level but has shown glimpses of his enormous potential. KRIEBER GAGNON put together back-to-back wins at the Tokyo Grand Slam in December before finishing in seventh-place. In July he again recorded a brace of wins, this time at the Zagreb Grand Prix, before falling in the third round to Max STEWART (GBR).

Instagram: @louiskg

Kyle REYES -100kg

Rio 2016 Olympian REYES, 24, is a highly-exciting -100kg protagonist who won the Junior World Championships in 2013. Toronto native REYES now resides in Setagaya, Japan, and speaks fluent Japanese. The three-time Grand Slam silver medallist has become a firm fan favourite for his gallant style which saw him step up a category to take on standout heavyweights Daniel NATEA (ROU), Rafael SILVA (BRA), Adam OKRUASHVILI (GEO) and KIM Sungmin (KOR) in back-to-back contests in the Worlds team competition last year.

Instagram: @kyle__reyes

Cape Verde (CPV)

Djamila SILVA -52kg

Former Junior African Championships silver medallist SILVA, 22, started her IJF career last year at the World Championships. SILVA, who lives in Lisbon, Portugal, lost her opening contest at Budapest 2017 to the vastly more experienced Kalpana Devi THOUDAM (IND) by ippon. SILVA gained further experience at two Grand Prix last year and finished seventh at the African Championships in 2018.

Instagram: @djamilacohen

Sandra BORGES -57kg

Forner Portuguese Championships winner BORGES, 35, campaigned at her first World Championships last year when she lost her first contest to Amelie STOLL (GER). BORGES has showed no signs of slowing down with three competitions already under her belt this year where she has faced top-level opposition. The young members of the Cape Verde team will look to BORGES for advice and inspiration and the veteran will be desperate to lead by example for her team.

Instagram: @sandratavaresborges

Adysangela MONIZ +78kg

London 2012 Olympian MONIZ, 26, won bronze at the 2009 Lusophony Games, a multinational multi-sport event which involves athletes coming from Portuguese-speaking countries. MONIZ has experience of one World Championships which came back in 2011 in Paris. The heavyweight was beaten by eventual champion Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) at London 2012 and will crave a return to the elite stage in Baku.

Wilson TEIXEIRA -66kg

Agadir Grand Prix 2018 participant TEIXEIRA, 23, will make his inaugural appearance at the World Championships. The tai-otoshi expert made his IJF debut in Agadir this year where he lost his first contest against Wail EZZINE (ALG). TEIXEIRA, who coaches children in Cape Verde, also saw action at the African Championships in April where he was beaten in the preliminaries.

Instagram: @wilsonricknakaia

Magner MENDES -73kg

Dakar Open bronze medallist MENDES, 28, made his World Championships debut in 2011. MENDES was defeated by Benjamin DARBELET (FRA) by ippon in his opening contest and has not returned to the competition since then. The long-time -73kg judoka, who is also an instructor at Judo Club Bushido in Praia, Cape Verde, returned to action last year by winning bronze at a continental open and is ready to compete in Baku after further outings at the Agadir Grand Prix and African Championships.

Instagram: @magnermendes

Chad (CHA)

Demos MEMNELOUM -70kg

One-time World Championships participant MEMNELOUM, 24, fought at her first IJF Grand Prix in January in Tunisia and returned to the stage in August to fight at the Budapest Grand Prix. MEMNELOUM, who hails from N'Djamena, Chad, lost in the first round in Tunisia and the second round in Budapest. Two fifth-place finishes at the African Championships (2011 and 2012) remain the best career results for the Chad judoka.

Instagram: @memneloum

Ibrahim ISSA SANI -60kg

Teenager ISSA SANI, 19, will make the step up to the world level for the first time in Baku. ISSA SANI has represented Chad at the African Games, African Championships, Paris Grand Slam and in 2018 joined the IJF World Judo Tour to compete at two Grand Prix events. The youngster finished fifth at the Yaounde Open last year after losing his bronze medal contest to Christophe Emmanuel NDZOMO (CMR) by a waza-ari score.

Chile (CHI)

Mary Dee VARGAS LEY -48kg

Former Junior Pan American Championships bronze medallist VARGAS LEY, 21, campaigned at the World Championships for the first time last year. The Santiago-based prospect lost her first contest against Milica NIKOLIC (SRB) who went on to finish fifth in Budapest. VARGAS LEY has been highly-active with six competitions already under her belt this year and walked away from the Santiago Open with silver and took bronze at the Buenos Aires Open.

Thomas BRICENO -100kg

Former Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam bronze medallist BRICENO, 24, will make his third World Championships appearance in Baku. BRICENO, who finished seventh at the Cancun Grand Prix last year, graced the Worlds stage in 2015 and 2017 and will be hoping to achieve his first contest win at his third attempt. Rio 2016 Olympian BRICENO defeated Ibrahim KHALAF (JOR) at the Games before losing out to former world champion GWAK Donghan (KOR) who eventually won bronze in Brazil.

Instagram: @bricen2020

Francisco SOLIS +100kg

Junior Pan American Championships winner SOLIS, 19, makes his World Championships debut in Azerbaijan. The Cancun Grand Prix bronze medallist, who lives in Osorno, Chile, saw Grand Prix action in July and August in Europe. SOLIS lost to world number one Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) in Zagreb and to former Junior World Championships bronze medallist Ruslan SHAKHBAZOV (RUS) in Budapest.

Instagram: @pancho_solis_gonzalez

China (CHN)

XIONG Yao -48kg

XIONG, 26, has represented her country since 2014 but only made her first international trip last year when she was selected for the Paris Grand Slam and Tokyo Grand Slam, two of the toughest competitions in the sport. XIONG finished seventh in Tokyo after wins over Mariia PERSIDSKAIA (RUS) and Melanie CLEMENT (FRA) before falling to KANG Yujeong (KOR) in the quarter-finals and world champion TONAKI Funa (JPN) in the repechage.

WU Shugen -52kg

Two-time Grand Prix winner WU, 31, has moved up from -48kg to -52kg this year. WU burst onto the international stage by winning the Super World Cup Tournoi de Paris (now Paris Grand Slam) and has gone on to win eight Grand Prix medals and finished seventh at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Chinese veteran will be competing her third World Championships with her best result being a seventh-place finish in 2011.

LU Tongjuan -57kg

Asian Championships bronze medallist LU, 28, has form in Azerbaijan after winning bronze at the annual Baku Grand Slam in 2016. LU won her first IJF medal in 2011 with a bronze at home at the Qingdao Grand Prix and has beaten champions such as Rafaela SILVA (BRA) and Miryam ROPER (PAN). The Chinese judoka won her first contest at her Worlds debut last year against Manita SHRESTHA PRADHAN (NEP) before narrowly losing to Catherine BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD (CAN) in round two.

ZHANG Wen -57kg

ZHANG, 27, made her IJF debut in 2012 but has only competed once at the World Championships. The 2014 World Championships participant has lost a Grand Prix bronze medal contest on four occasions (2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018). ZHANG defeated Gulnar HAYYTBAYEVA (TKM) by ippon at the Worlds before taking eventual world champion Clarisse AGBEGNENOU (FRA) the distance in a narrow defeat.

YANG Junxia -63kg

Two-time Grand Prix winner YANG, 29, finished fifth at the World Championships last year after losing her bronze medal contest against BALDORJ Mungunchimeg (MGL). The Rio 2016 Olympian has won three Grand Prix medals in addition to a career-best bronze medal at the invite-only World Judo Masters event in 2016. YANG holds victories over European Games winner Martyna TRAJDOS (GER), former world medallist Alice SCHLESINGER (GBR) and former World Judo Masters winner ABE Kana (JPN).

YAN Zi -70kg

World Championships 2017 competitor YAN, 22, was humbled by Kim POLLING (NED) in Budapest last year. YAN is back in 2018 for her second tilt at the Worlds. The former Cadet Asian Championships winner entered the IJF World Judo Tour with a fifth-place on home soil at the Qingdao Grand Prix. YAN fought at the Hohhot Grand Prix in 2017 and 2018 and exited both times in the preliminary rounds.

MA Zhenzhao -78kg

Asian Championships silver medallist MA, 20, won bronze at her first IJF competition in 2016 when the World Judo Tour visited China for the last edition of the Qingdao Grand Prix. MA defeated opposition from Thailand, Kazakhstan and South Korea at her continental championships debut last year before losing the final against Japan’s HAMADA Shori. The youngster finished seventh at the Hohhot Grand Prix in May to earn a call-up to her first World Championships.

WANG Yan +78kg

IJF World Judo Tour newcomer WANG, 24, arrived on the scene last year at the Tokyo Grand Slam. WANG lost in Japan to Junior World Championships winner SONE Akira (JPN) but responded by taking a highly-impressive silver medal at the Paris Grand Slam this year which saw her avenge her defeat to Japanese teenager SONE in the semi-final. WANG took bronze at the Hohhot Grand Prix in May after defeating defending champion HAN Mi Jin by a waza-ari score.

SU Xin +78kg

Former Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medallist SU, 27, lost her first contest on her return event at the Hohhot Grand Prix this year against HAN Mi Jin (KOR). SU will make her World Championships debut in Baku as China look to one of their favourite weight categories for honours on the last day of the individual competition. The inexperienced Chinese heavyweight has registered three contest wins and two defeats on the IJF World Judo Tour with all five contests being decided by ippon.

SHANG Yi -60kg

World Championships rookie SHANG, 24, has experience of competing at two Grand Prix and three Grand Slams. From those five events, SHANG has earned one contest one when he beat Soukphaxay SITHISANE (LAO) at the Hohhot Grand Prix this year. SHANG is ranked outside the world’s top 100 judoka at -60kg and will be his country’s only representative at -60kg in Baku.

WU Zhiqiang -66kg

Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist WU, 21, finished seventh at the Paris Grand Slam this year which stands as his best result on the IJF World Judo Tour. The Chinese tyro stunned Charles CHIBANA (BRA) by ippon in France with his ippon-soei-nage before he beat Gavin MOGOPA (BOT) who picked up three penalties. WU suffered back-to-back to losses in the quarter-final and repechage but had showed enough to give an indication of his potential at the elite level as he heads into his first World Championships.

QING Daga -73kg

Former East Asian Championships bronze medallist QING, 21, has achieved two fifth-place finishes at IJF Grand Prix and both have come in his homeland. QING lost bronze medal contests in 2016 in Qingdao and 2018 in Hohhot which offer him a promising platform to build on. World Championships newcomer QING, who has moved up from -66kg to -73kg this year, holds wins judoka such as over former Pan American Championships winner Eduardo BARBOSA (BRA).

FANG Hongyuan -73kg

FANG, 24, has one competition on his record and has the rare distinction of making his only IJF appearance at a World Championships. The obscure -73kg judoka was included in China’s 2013 team for Rio de Janeiro and lost his only contest to Dastan YKYBAYEV (KAZ) by ippon. FANG has not been seen in a judo setting since, with no appearances at any international events since 2013, but has earned a spot in their 2018 team for Baku.

NAI Rigaqi -81kg

World Championships novice NAI, 26, has campaigned on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2014. The ippon-seoi-nage specialist debuted at the Baku Grand Slam in 2014 and has made a handful of appearances on the circuit since then. NAI is still looking for his first international medal but has accumulated three contest wins including against Ivan PETR (CZE) by ippon from the aforementioned technique in August at the Budapest Grand Prix.

BU Hebilige -90kg

Youngster BU, 21, arrived on the circuit last year when he marked his first IJF start with a seventh-place finish at home at the Hohhot Grand Prix. BU made his Grand Slam debut in February in Paris and again recorded a contest win before bowing out in round two at the hands of Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP). Hohhot was the stage for his third IJF World Judo Tour experience as he shocked Max STEWART (GBR) at the first Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifier before falling to Olympic champion BAKER Mashu (JPN).

WANG Xuewen -90kg

Five-time Chinese Grand Prix participant WANG, 28, fought outside of Asia for the first time this year when he saw action at the Budapest Grand Prix in August. WANG, who jumped up from -81 to -90kg last year, recorded fifth-place finishes at his home Grand Prix in 2012, 2013, 2017. On his first international trip he was beaten by Klen Kristofer KALJULAID (EST) in a straightforward win for the Estonian.

LI Huilin -100kg

World Championships rookie, LI, 18, who is ranked outside of the world’s top 250 judoka, has one competition to his name on the IJF World Judo Tour. The teenager lost out in the first round of the Hohhot Grand Prix to HWANG Min-Ho (KOR) from a ko-uchi-makikomi. LI will hope to give a good account of himself on the Baku stage before an expected call-up to the Junior World Championships in the Bahamas in October.

YUAN Shaotong +100kg

Two-time Chinese Grand Prix competitor YUAN, 22, has a 1:2 record from his brace of appearances on the IJF World Judo Tour. The heavyweight was disqualified at the 2014 Qingdao Grand Prix against BATTULGA Temuulen (MGL) after picking up three penalties. At the 2015 instalment, YUAN powered past Husein MISRI (KUW) after 15 seconds before losing to Sven HEINLE (GER) by ippon having led by a waza-ari score.

Chinese Taipei (TPE)

LIEN Chen-Ling -57kg

Japan-based LIEN, 30, will be one of a handful of judoka who have already won gold in Baku. LIEN, who is a member of Japanese company team Komatsu, won the Baku Grand Slam last year and finished seventh at the World Championships several months later in Budapest. The three-time Grand Prix medallist has two seventh-place finishes at the Worlds and a fifth-place finish at the Rio 2016 Olympics and is ready to make her strongest challenge for a major medal.

Instagram: @kmren131

YANG Yung Wei -60kg

Junior Asian Championships winner YANG, 20, won bronze at the 2016 Qingdao Grand Prix as a teenager. YANG makes his World Championships debut this year as the brightest male talent in the Chinese Taipei team. The former East Asian Championships winner holds wins over Asian talents such as former Budapest Grand Prix winner AOKI Dai (JPN) and will hope to become a mainstay in his senior national team as he aims for Tokyo 2020.

Colombia (COL)

Yuri ALVEAR -70kg

Three-time world champion ALVEAR, 32, is a sporting idol in Colombia and beyond. The Jamundí, Valle del Cauca, native won her first World Championships title in 2009 and nearly a decade later is still at the peak of her powers. ALVEAR won her second world crown in 2013 and a third in 2014. The Colombian legend, who trains extensively in Japan under the tutelage of her coach HAYAKAWA Noriyuki, finished seventh at the Beijing Olympics, won bronze in London, silver in Rio and is now in line to reach her fourth Olympic Games.

Instagram: @yuri70kg

Leider NAVARRO -73kg

Junior Pan American Championships winner NAVARRO, 20, is one of the most exciting young judoka from South America. NAVARRO has been handed his first start on the IJF World Judo Tour by the Colombian management after impressing on the junior stage and will be one to look out for in Baku and throughout this Olympic cycle.

Instagram: @leidernavarro

Francisco BALANTA -90kg

Junior Pan American Championships gold medallist BALANTA, 20, was born in Jamundi and currently resides in Cali, Colombia. BALANTA won all of his contests at the u20 continental championships by ippon including against Brazilian, America and Argentine opposition. The former -81kg competitor finished fifth at the senior Pan American Championships this year and should not be overlooked on his introduction to the World Championships.

Instagram: @franciscobalanta

Costa Rica (CRC)

Diana BRENES -78kg

Pan American Championships bronze medallist BRENES, 21, made her World Championships debut last year with a losing effort against the hugely experienced Bernadette GRAF (AUT). The San Jose judoka has never fought at a Grand Prix or a Grand Slam but has regularly seen action in her own continent and has a growing reputation in Pan America.

Instagram: @_brenes_

Ian SANCHO CHINCHILA -66kg

El Salvador Open bronze medallist SANCHO CHINCHILA, 25, is a three-time World Championships participant. The Costa Rican grabbed his first contest win at the IJF’s premier event in 2017 when he defeated Artur CARLOS JUNIOR (MOZ) with his seoi-nage. Former world champion Georgii ZANTARAIA (UKR) was waiting in round three and beat SANCHO CHINCHILA with his uchi-mata. The -66kg talent lives in Hadano, Kanagawa, Japan where he studies at the world famous Tokai University which is one of the world’s most sought after training locations for an elite judoka.

Instagram: @julian_sancho_ch

David GUILLEN VARGAS -81kg

Former Junior Pan American Championships silver medallist GUILLEN VARGAS, 22, made his World Championships bow in 2017. The youngster started with a win as he beat Alfred LINGUNI (MAW) with an ippon-seoi-nage after just 10 seconds before suffering a defeat against CSOKNYAI Laszlo (HUN). GUILLEN VARGAS won two contests at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam including the dismissal of Achraf MOUTII (MAR) with a ura-nage.

Instagram: @david_81_cr_

Croatia (CRO)

Barbara MATIC -70kg

World Judo Masters silver medallist MATIC, 23, is widely considered as her country’s best hope for a first Olympic judo medal. Three-time Grand Prix winner MATIC finished fifth at the 2014 World Championships and then won the Junior World Championships two months later. The Rio 2016 Olympian has been on the IJF medal podium twice this year with silver at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam and bronze at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam which which will mean a seeded berth in Baku.

Instagram: @barbimatic

Ivana SUTALO +78kg

Agadir Grand Prix bronze medallist SUTALO, 23, fought at the World Championships in 2015 and 2017 and suffered first round exits on both occasions. SUTALO won her first IJF gold medal last year with victory at the Cancun Grand Prix and finished seventh at the Budapest Grand Prix last time out in August. The Dubrovnik judoka will be competing in Azerbaijan for the first time since her fifth-place finish at the Baku Grand Slam in 2013.

Instagram: @ivana_sutalo2510

Ivana MARANIC +78kg

Five-time Grand Prix medallist MARANIC, 26, returns to the World Championships stage this year for the first time since 2015. Zagreb-based MARANIC is winless at the flagship event of the IJF World Judo Tour after losing her 2014 debut on penalties and her 2015 return by ippon at the hands of ERDELYI-JOO Abigel (HUN). The osoto-gari specialist won gold at the Slovenian European Cup in June.

Instagram: @maranicivana

Zlatko KUMRIC -100kg

Former Tashkent Grand Prix silver medallist KUMRIC, 24, is a one-man band for Croatia at Baku 2018. After a summer where the Croatian men’s football team won over the world, KUMRIC, will be their only male ambassador on the grandest stage of the IJF World Judo Tour. The Split native went 1:1 at Budapest 2017 and will be looking to build on an encouraging fifth-place from the Paris Grand Slam where he defeated world-class opposition from France, Mongolia and Israel.

Instagram: @zlatko_kumric

Cuba (CUB)

Melissa HURTADO MUNOZ -48kg

Junior World Championships bronze medallist HURTADO MUNOZ, 19, steps up to the senior stage this year. The teenager finished fifth at the Havana Grand Prix in 2016 which stands as the best senior result in her young career which is expected to blossom on the road to Tokyo 2020. HURTADO MUNOZ finished fifth at the Pan American Championships in April and lost on penalties in her opening contest at August’s Budapest Grand Prix against Dilara LOKMANHEKIM (TUR).

Instagram: @melissa.hurtado.14268

Anailys DORVIGNY -57kg

Cancun Grand Prix bronze medallist DORVIGNY, 26, made her World Championships debut in 2013. The Havana judoka defeated Tina ZELTNER (AUT) by a waza-ari score in Rio de Janeiro before being humbled by YAMAMOTO Anzu (JPN) by ippon. Last year DORVIGNY bested Amelie STOLL (GER) with an ouchi-gari before being held down by LIEN Chen-Ling (TPE) with a kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame hold.

Maylin DEL TORO CARVAJAL -63kg

Santiago de Cuba judoka DEL TORO CARVAJAL, 23, is a two-time and reigning Pan American Championships gold medallist. DEL TORO CARVAJAL shocked Olympic champion Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO) at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam in February by throwing the Slovenian star twice with uchi-mata. The Cuban prospect finished fifth in Germany with a 3:2 record. All three wins came by ippon while DEL TORO CARVAJAL went the distance in her two defeats which came by waza-ari scores.

Instagram: @maylin63cuba

Kaliema ANTOMARCHI -78kg

World bronze medallist ANTOMARCHI, 30, broke down in tears when she won her first major medal a year ago after a tumultuous day in Budapest. The Cuban veteran defeated Kaouthar OUALLAL (ALG) by a tate-shiho-gatame and then saw off ERDELYI-JOO Abigel (HUN) with an okuri-ashi-barai after five minutes of golden score in a titanic tussle. In the quarter-final the Cancun Grand Prix bronze medallist was held down by UMEKI Mami (JPN) with a kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame for ippon. Perennial underdogs, Cuban judoka have a steely resolve and ANTOMARCHI returned to winning ways by throwing Assunta GALEONE (ITA) with a tani-otoshi before edging past SATO Ruika (JPN) with her same trusted technique for world bronze.

Idalys ORTIZ +78kg

Cuba’s all-time great ORTIZ, 28, has won all three colours of Olympic honours and won the World Championships in 2013 and 2014. Charismatic heavyweight ORTIZ starred in the Cuba #JudoForTheWorld Cuba film where she revealed that she would walk five kilometres to and from judo training as a child. ORTIZ won bronze in Beijing, gold in London and silver in Rio and this year’s World Championships is a key part of her build-up to her bid for a fourth Olympic medal.

Olympic gold sinks in for ORTIZ in London

Osniel SOLIS -66kg

Two-time and reigning Pan American Championships gold medallist SOLIS, 27, reached round two on his World Championships initiation last year. SOLIS defeated Sebastian SEIDL (GER) by a waza-ari with koshi-waza in the first round before being halted by Tal FLICKER (ISR) by ippon from a tani-otoshi. The talented Cuban is still looking to translate his Pan American success into international honours and Baku 2018 is the perfect time to make a run through the rounds towards the podium.

Magdiel ESTRADA -73kg

Former Havana Grand Prix silver medallist ESTRADA, 24, will be making his fifth trip to a World Championships for Cuba. The Rio 2016 Olympian won two contests at the Worlds in 2013 and matched that effort in 2017. ESTRADA has won bronze at the Lima Open and silver at the Pan American Championships this year while most recently falling at the first hurdle at the Budapest Grand Prix in August against Jorge FERNANDES (POR).

Instagram: @magdiel.estrada.52493

Ivan Felipe SILVA MORALES -90kg

Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist SILVA MORALES, 22, is in form ahead of his third tilt at World Championships glory. The former Astana Grand Prix winner has showed his quality on the IJF World Judo Tour over the last couple of years as he qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics but is yet to impose himself on proceedings at the Worlds. SILVA MORALES went 5:1 in Budapest last time out with his only defeating coming against world number one Aleksandar KUKOLJ (SRB).

Instagram: @08ivansilva

Asley GONZALEZ -90kg

London 2012 Olympic silver medallist GONZALEZ, 28, is the most esteemed member of Cuba’s men’s team at Baku 2018. GONZALEZ followed up his Olympic medal by winning the World Championships a year later in Rio de Janeiro and has long been a standout performer on the IJF World Judo Tour. The Rio 2016 Olympian took a silver medal at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July as he finished with a 5:1 record including a commanding victory over world champion Nemanja MAJDOV (SRB).

Instagram: @asley_gonzalez_montero

Andy GRANDA +100kg

Antalya Grand Prix bronze medallist GRANDA, 26, finished fifth at the Openweight World Championships last year as he registered three contest wins before losing to heavyweight kingpin Teddy RINER (FRA) and teammate Alex GARCIA MENDOZA (CUB) for bronze. GRANDA, who hails from Jovellanos but now resides in Matanzas, has made a permanent move from -100kg to the heavyweight category this year and beat Mongolian legend NAIDAN Tuvshinbayar (MGL) in April on his way to bronze at Turkey’s Grand Prix.

Instagram: @andysantiagograndaalverez

Cyprus (CYP)

Roudolf KOURTIDES -73kg

World Championships newcomer KOURTIDES, 22, will be under no pressure when he dons his judogi for the first time on the major stage in an IJF environment. KOURTIDES, who finished seventh at the Mediterranean Games in June, made his IJF debut earlier this year with outings at Grand Prix events in Tbilisi and Budapest. The Cypriot surprised many by defeating Augusto MELONI (ITA) with a sasae-tsurikomi-ashi in Georgia and then in the second round saw humbled Telman VALIYEV (AZE) with a sumi-otoshi.

Phedias KONNARIS -81kg

One-time World Championships competitor KONNARIS, 24, has fond memories of his IJF debut after defeating David AMARILLA (PAR) by ippon in just 24 seconds with a gigantic uchi-mata. That highlight reel moment came back in 2014 at Russia’s World Championships in Chelyabinsk and unfortunately for the Cypriot remains his only contest win on the international stage. KONNARIS last saw action in July at the Zagreb Grand Prix where he was eliminated by Kazakhstan’s Bekzhan ABDUALIYEV by ippon.

Czech Republic (CZE)

Alice MATEJCKOVA -78kg

Belgrade European Cup bronze medallist MATEJCKOVA, 20, is the only female member of the Czech Republic’s 10-strong team for Baku 2018. The three-time Junior European Cup bronze medallist, who fights out of Plzen, has started her senior career this year with European Open and European Cup adventures as well as a trip to Ekatering, Russia, in July for the inaugural European Mixed Team Championships. MATEJCKOVA makes her World Championships debut in Azerbaijan.

Instagram: @alig04

David PULKRABEK -60kg

Prague native PULKRABEK, 24, made an IJF World Judo Tour breakthrough in his last competition as he won bronze at the Zagreb Grand Prix. PULKRABEK ended with a 5:1 winning record in the Croatian capital with all five of his contest wins coming by way of ippon. The Czech Republic judoka bested Zhaksybek ZHENISBEK (KAZ) with an ouchi-gari, conquered Issam BASSOU (MAR) with a sumi-otoshi, dispatched Otar BESTAEV (KGZ) with a uchi-mata-sukashi, Ashley MCKENZIE (GBR) with a sumi-otoshi and finally expunged former world silver medallist Rustam IBRAYEV (KAZ) with his ippon-seoi-nage. PULKRABEK had lost his semi-final to Adonis DIAZ (USA) from a thunderous utsuri-goshi.

Pavel PETRIKOV -66kg

Former Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist PETRIKOV, 32, will make his eighth start at a World Championships and his first at his new weight of -66kg. The Rio 2016 Olympian finished fifth last year and seventh in 2009. PETRIKOV lost out to eventual world champion TAKATO Naohisa (JPN) in the semi-finals a year ago and was beaten to bronze by former world champion GANBAT Boldbaatar (MGL) after going the distance with both Asian stars.

Instagram: @judista_

Jakub JECMINEK -73kg

Former Bratislava European Cup winner JECMINEK, 25, will become a four-time World Championships participant in Baku. JECMINEK, who has campaigned at the Worlds in 2014, 2015 and 2017 won his opening contests in the last two editions and will believe that with a favourable draw he could go further in the competition than ever before. The -73kg judoka won two contests at the Budapest Grand Prix in August before a narrow defeat to Giovanni ESPOSITO (ITA) in round three.

Instagram: @jacobbarley

Ivan PETR -81kg

Belgrade European Cup bronze medallist PETR, 26, has been a regular on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2016. PETR, who is ranked just inside the world’s top 50 judoka at -81kg, has fought at nine Grand Prix and four Grand Slam events but is still searching for his first medal at this level. The Czech Republic judoka holds a 2016 win over London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and two-time world medallist Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN).

Jaromir MUSIL -81kg

Two-time Grand Prix medallist MUSIL, 30, is a veteran of four World Championships after campaigns in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. MUSIL recorded two wins in 2011 and one in 2015. The tai-otoshi specialist earned both of his Grand Prix medals in Mongolia as he won bronze in 2013 and silver in 2016. MUSIL has already fought at nine competitions this year including Grand Prix and Grand Slam with a best result of fifth-place in Paris after losing to Frank DE WIT (NED) for bronze.

Instagram: @jarousek.musil

David KLAMMERT -90kg

Tunis Grand Prix bronze medallist KLAMMERT, 24, has been in the form of his life over the last year. KLAMMERT finished fifth in the home of judo at the Tokyo Grand Slam in December after winning three contests including an upset over world bronze medallist Ushangi MARGIANI (GEO). The Tokyo 2020 hope beat highly-rated Brazilian Rafael MACEDO (BRA) for bronze in Tunisia before fifth-place finishes at both the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam and the Budapest Grand Prix, the final stop before Baku 2018.

Instagram: @david_klamos1

Jiri PETR -90kg

Belgrade European Cup silver medallist PETR, 24, will step out onto a senior World Championships tatami for the first time in his career. The four-time Grand Prix participant has featured in 11 competitions in 2018 for the Czech Republic including five IJF World Judo Tour appearances. PETR finished seventh last time out at the Minsk European Open after accruing a 2:2 record in Belarus.

Michal HORAK -100kg

Former Grand Slam bronze medallist HORAK, 30, has featured in four World Championships for his country including at the revived Openweight event last year. Prague judoka HORAK won Grand Prix gold in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 2013 and will be worth monitoring in Baku having made the unusual step this year of moving down from the +100kg heavyweight category to -100kg.

Instagram: @m1s4h4

Lukas KRPALEK +100kg

Olympic champion KRPALEK, 30, is the final and most illustrious member of the Czech Republic team for Baku 2018. The 2014 World Championships gold medallist made the move up a weight category last year having won all manner of accolades in the -100kg category. A diehard hockey fan and player, KRPALEK will compete in the heavyweight category at a World Championships for the first time having missed Budapest 2017 through injury.

Instagram: @lukaskrpalek

KRPALEK with his gold medal at the Rio 2016

Denmark (DEN)

Laerke OLSEN -63kg

Hørsholm judoka OLSEN, 20, has completed her transition from the junior to senior stage this year with a brace of Grand Prix events and will now be keen to establish herself on the IJF World Judo Tour. OLSEN took silver at the Minsk European Open in August to head into her first World Championships with a degree of confidence and will be counting down the days until her name is called out on the biggest stage of her career in Baku.

Instagram: @laerkemariee

Emilie SOOK -70kg

Tashkent Grand Prix silver medallist SOOK, 22, made her rookie appearance at the World Championships last year where she fell to eventual silver medallist Maria PEREZ (PUR) in round one. Copenhagen-based SOOK registered a fifth-place finish at the Minsk European Open in August with a 2:2 record and will look to trouble the -70kg with her ippon-seoi-nage and youthful élan.

Instagram: @emmysook_

Djibouti (DJI)

Moustapha HAMID -60kg

One-time World Championships competitor HAMID, 23, lost out to Moritz PLAFKY (GER) in the first round a year ago in Budapest. HAMID remains an unknown quantity as he has not fought on the IJF World Judo Tour since then and his favoured seoi-otoshi has therefore not been critiqued. The Djibouti judoka is his country’s only representative in Baku and will be in action on day one.

Dominican Republic (DOM)

Diana DE JESUS -52kg

Former Pan American Open silver medallist DE JESUS, 26, joins the World Championships stage for the second year in a row. DE JESUS was overpowered by BISHRELT Khorloodoi (MGL) with a kami-shiho-gatame hold on her Worlds debut last year but has clearly made improvements in 2018. The Dominican Republic judoka finished fifth at the Pan American Championships in April and won bronze at the Central American and Caribbean Games in July.

Ana ROSA -57kg

Pan American Open gold medallist ROSA, 20, made her first start at a World Championships in 2017. Santo Domingo judoka ROSA was pinned down by KWON Youjeong (KOR) for ippon with a kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame. The IJF World Judo Tour beginner added two contest wins to her record at the Madrid European Open in June before a third round loss to Johanna MUELLER (GER) by ippon.

Instagram: @a_nylemsrg_57kg

Wander MATEO -66kg

Rio 2016 Olympian MATEO, 29, fought at the 2013 and 2017 World Championships but his best performance took place on the grandest stage of all. MATEO won back-to-back contests at South America’s first Olympics before falling to Japanese all-time great EBINUMA Masashi (JPN) and Rishod SOBIROV (UZB) who both went on to win bronze. MATEO, who had a short-lived spell in the -60kg category from 2010 to 2012, is a wily veteran who arrives in Azerbaijan on the back of winning bronze at the Central American and Caribbean Games.

Instagram: @w.mateo_official

Medickson DEL ORBE CORTORREAL -81kg

Pan American Championships silver medallist DEL ORBE CORTORREAL, 22, makes his World Championships debut on the back of a fine run of results in 2018. DEL ORBE CORTORREAL took silver at the continental championships in April after winning four contests in a row by ippon. Jorge MARTINEZ (CUB), Emmanuel LUCENTI (ARG), Noel PENA (VEN) and Juan Diego TURCIOS (ESA) were all thwarted by the Dominican Republic judoka who lost out to world-class operator Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN) in the final.

Instagram: @medikson

Robert FLORENTINO -90kg

Junior World Championships silver medallist FLORENTINO, 21, won bronze at the Pan American Championships in April and silver at the Madrid European Open two months later as he continues to grow in stature on the international stage. FLORENTINO fights out of Spanish outfit Valencia Judo Club which houses a host of highly-talented judoka from the Americas who are based in Europe to ease their access to major events and to accelerate their development.

Instagram: @robert_bony

Jose NOVA ALCANTARA -100kg

Pan American Open silver medallist NOVA ALCANTARA, 21, makes his second challenge at the World Championships this year. The two-time Junior Pan American Cup winner jumped up two weight categories in 2016 as he went from -81kg directly to -100kg and that immediately paid dividends on the u20 age group stage. NOVA ALCANTARA defeated Daniel DICHEV (BUL) in his Worlds bow last year before being caught by Portuguese powerhouse Jorge FONSECA in round two with a thunderous osoto-gari.

Instagram: @jm_nova

Lewis MEDINA -100kg

Pan American Championships silver medallist MEDINA, 22, produced his best judo at his continental championships in April. MEDINA conquered Isao CARDENAS (MEX), former world silver medallist Jose ARMENTEROS (CUB) and L.A. SMITH III (USA) all by ippon before running out of steam against former Junior World Championships runner-up Leonardo GONCALVES (BRA) in the final. MEDINA has a habit of accumulating unnecessary shido penalties and will have to eliminate that part of his game when he meets the best judoka in the world in Baku.

Instagram: @lewisrd28

DPR Korea (PRK)

RIM Song Sim -52kg

Asian Games bronze medallist RIM, 23, is one of the most established members of the current DPR Korea team. RIM made her World Championships debut in 2013 but had to wait until 2017 to make her mark on the IJF World Judo Tour. The uchi-mata connoisseur won the inaugural Hohhot Grand Prix last year by winning all four of her contests in China. RIM made sure that her country made an immediate impact at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta at the end of August by earning a hard-fought bronze after three wins and a semi-final defeat against TSUNODA Natsumi (JPN).

KIM Jin A -57kg

Former Junior Asian Championships silver medallist KIM, 22, made her World Championships debut a year ago at Budapest 2017. The youngster was unfazed as she beat Amelia FULGENTES (USA) with an uchi-mata before slipping to defeat in the next round against Jovana ROGIC (SRB) after picking up three shido penalties. Osoto-gari expert KIM will be one of the most inexperienced judoka in the weight category but should not be written off at Baku 2018.

RI Hyo Sun -57kg

Former Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix bronze medallist RI, 27, has seen action at the highest level on the IJF World Judo Tour. RI has produced her best results in her home continent with a solitary Grand Prix honour from Mongolia, bronze at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and fifth-place finishes at the Hohhot Grand Prix and 2015 Asian Championships in Kuwait. The DPR Korea athlete will be making her third World Championships appearance.

KWON Sun Yong -70kg

One-time World Championships participant KWON, 23, made her Budapest 2017 opportunity count as she put together a run of three consecutive contest wins. The unknown judoka made an eye-catching start by scoring three times against Chantal WRIGHT (USA) including an ippon-seoi-nage for the maximum score. KWON bested former world number one Elvismar RODRIGUEZ (VEN) with a ko-uchi-gari and outfought Roxane TAEYMANS (BEL) who was penalised three times. A quarter-final defeat against 35-year-old stalwart Assmaa NIANG (MAR) sent the debutant into the repechage where four-time Grand Prix winner Marie Eve GAHIE (FRA) edged past KWON by a waza-ari score.

AN Jae Yong -60kg

Former Cadet Asian Championships bronze medallist AN, 23, made his IJF debut in Uzbekistan at the Tashkent Grand Prix in 2015. AN looked at home on the IJF World Judo Tour from the outset of his top-flight career as he beat Eisa MAJRASHI (KSA) and Tobias ENGLMAIER (GER) by ippon and prevailed against former world silver medallist DASHDAVAA Amartuvshin (MGL) who received three shido penalties. The talented -60kg judoka will be making his World Championships debut at Baku 2018.

KIM Yong Gwon -60kg

Former Junior World Championships competitor KIM, 20, has only surfaced at one international competition. The fledgling judoka fought in Zagreb, Croatia, last year at the u20 showpiece but came up against former Cadet World Championships gold medallist KOGA Genki (JPN) who happens to be the son of 1992 Olympic champion and three-time world champion KOGA Toshihiko (JPN). KIM took young KOGA the distance but ultimately lost out by a waza-ari score from an okuri-ashi-barai.

KIM Chol Gwang -73kg

Former Cadet Asian Championships bronze medallist KIM, 22, has only made four appearances on the IJF World Judo Tour since his introduction in 2015 but has graced an IJF medal podium on two occasions. KIM posted a 4:1 record at the 2015 Tashkent Grand Prix to win a fine bronze medal and went one better at the Samsung Grand Prix a year later with a 5:1 record steering him to silver. On his World Championships initiation last year KIM led Artem KHOMULA (UKR) by a waza-ari score from a harai-goshi-gaeshi but was caught with an uchi-mata which levelled the score and was then countered with uchi-mata-sukashi to bow out after his first contest.

DR Congo (COD)

Rodrick KUKU -66kg

Kinshasa native KUKU, 28, had a brief competition outing in Baku in 2016 when he made his IJF debut. KUKU, who now lives in Pretoria, South Africa shipped a waza-ari score to Elio VERDE (ITA) from a tomoe-nage which separated the pair at the end of a competitive contest. The Congolese judoka received a wildcard spot for the Rio 2016 Olympics where he came undone against Wander MATEO (DOM) by a waza-ari score from a modified kata-guruma. KUKU will complete an uncommon feat of making his World Championships debut after already fighting at an Olympic Games when he competes on day two at Baku 2018.

Instagram: @kukurodrick

Cedrick KALONGA -81kg

World Championships debutant KALONGA, 23, arrived on the IJF World Judo Tour in 2017. KALONGA, who now lives in Antwerp, Belgium, fought at the first edition of The Hague Grand Prix in November where he was thrown for the maximum score by Damian STEPIEN (POL) with an ippon-seoi-nage. KALONGA stepped up to the Grand Slam stage in 2018 but was matched against the defending Paris Grand Slam champion Frank DE WIT (FRA) who forced his African opponent to submit to a okuri-eri-jime strangle. The African judoka is still getting to grips with the elite circuit but will be hoping to emerge with a first IJF World Judo Tour contest win from Baku 2018.

Instagram: @cedrick_van_antwerpen

Kalonji MBUYI -81kg

IJF World Judo Tour tyro MBUYI, 19, now resides in Paris where he is a member of Judo Club Raincy Villemomble (JCRV). The French capital was a natural location for him to make his first start on the IJF circuit but the Paris Grand Slam also happens to be one of the most formidable competitions in the sport. The teenager was unperturbed and went toe-to-toe with ERDENEKHUU Munkhjargal (MGL) in a spirited losing effort. MBUYI finished fifth at the Junior African Championships in May with a 2:2 record and will savour the occasion of his first World Championships in Azerbaijan.

Instagram: @mbuyi_kalonji

Eyale LE BEAU -90kg

Kinshasa-born LE BEAU has, like his three World Championships teammates, uprooted from his homeland. LE BEAU lives in Fresnes in the southern suburbs of Paris where he trains and coaches. The African Championships bronze medallist made his first World Championships appearance last year and defeated Celtus Williams Abiola DOSSOU YOVO (BEN) in his first contest. LE BEAU was submitted by Nemanja MAJDOV (SRB) with a ude-garami in the next round but could draw encouragement from the fact that the Serbian went on to win gold.

Instagram: @lebeaulotika

Ecuador (ECU)

Estefania GARCIA -63kg

Former Pan American Championships gold medallist GARCIA, 30, has campaigned on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2012. The Rio 2016 Olympian has enjoyed much of her success in her home continent with four near misses on the international circuit having finished fifth at a Grand Prix on two occasions and in the same position at a Grand Slam two times. GARCIA recorded a win at the Olympics as she came out on top in an untidy shido battle against Mamadama BANGOURA (GUI) who was reprimanded for a final time for passivity. The South American Championships bronze medallist was humbled in the subsequent round by Kathrin UNTERWURZACHER (AUT) from a uchi-mata-gaeshi.

Instagram: @estef_kikai

Vanessa CHALA -78kg

Pan American Championships bronze medallist CHALA, 28, will compete at her fifth World Championships in Azerbaijan. CHALA had her best day at the IJF’s blockbuster event in 2015 when she won back-to-back contests. The veteran vanquished Zhanar KASHKYN (KAZ) in round one and stunned Laura VARGAS KOCH (GER) by ippon from a ura-nage in round two. Lior WILDIKAN (ISR) tapped out CHALA in round three with a juji-gatame. The hane-goshi specialist moved up from -70kg to -78kg this year and has four medals from five competitions at her new weight.

Lenin PRECIADO -60kg

Pan American Championships gold medallist PRECIADO, 25, will make his fifth tilt at World Championships honours in the Azerbaijan capital. Rio 2016 Olympian PRECIADO has not medalled on the IJF stage but has conquered names such as former world silver medallist Rustam IBRAYEV (KAZ), current world silver medallist Orkhan SAFAROV (AZE), Olympic bronze medallist Felipe KITADAI (BRA) and double European bronze medallist Ashley MCKENZIE (GBR). PRECIADO scored twice in his first and only Olympic contest in Brazil with an ouchi-gari and uchi-mata but lost out to Ludovic CHAMMARTIN (SUI) from a yoko-guruma.

Instagram: @leninpreciado

Freddy FIGUEROA +100kg

Pan American Championships gold medallist FIGUEROA, 23, is a two-time World Championships entrant. FIGUEROA saw Worlds action in 2015 and 2017 and won his first round contests in both editions before bowing out in round two. The young heavyweight put together a seven-fight winning streak in continental competitions in the spring but that run was abruptly ended at the Budapest Grand Prix in August by Adam OKRUASHVILI (GEO).

Instagram: @f_figueroa593

Egypt (EGY)

Mohamed ABDELMAWGOUD -66kg

African Championships winner ABDELMAWGOUD, 24, shocked the world in his last competition when he won five contests in succession to progress to the final at the Budapest Grand Prix. ABDELMAWGOUD won all five contests by ippon including a sensational round three triumph over former world champion Georgii ZANTARAIA (UKR). The Egyptian fell to Düsseldorf Grand Slam gold medallist TAGAWA Kenzo (JPN) in the final but made a name for himself in the Hungarian capital and earned vital Olympic qualification points.

Ahmed ABELRAHMAN -66kg

African Championships silver medallist ABELRAHMAN, 22, is another prospect who is justifying major selections on the IJF World Judo Tour. The Rio 2016 Olympian has placed once on the IJF circuit after finishing seventh at the Jeju Grand Prix in 2015 and is tasked with emulating his performances in Africa around the world as he seeks medals and points towards qualification for Tokyo 2020. ABELRAHMAN joins a World Championships for the first time in Baku.

Mohamed MOHYELDIN -73kg

African Championships silver medallist MOHYELDIN, 26, has campaigned at 10 Grand Prix and six Grand Slam but is yet to contest a medal contest on the IJF World Judo Tour. MOHYELDIN has proven his talents within his own continent but results and medals have been hard to come by internationally. The -73kg judoka has one World Championships cap to his name from 2015 and will be hoping to give a better account of himself in 2018 having been disqualified against Aliaksei RAMANCHYK (BLR) after picking up three penalties.

Instagram: @mohyyyyy

Mohamed ABDELAAL -81kg

African Championships winner ABDELAAL, 28, won an unexpected bronze medal at the 2016 World Judo Masters. ABDELAAL earned an invitation to the Masters, which is open to the world’s top-16 ranked judoka in each weight category, on the strength of his results in Africa but was able to eliminate a who’s who list of champions on his way to the medal podium in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Egyptian beat former world champion Loic PIETRI (FRA), one-time Grand Prix winner Ivan Felipe SILVA MORALES (CUB) and former Asian Championships winner NYAMSUREN Dagvasuren (MGL) in a majestic display which he will draw confidence from in Baku.

Instagram: @mohamed_aly8123

Hatem ABD EL AKHER -90kg

Two-time Grand Prix medallist ABD EL AKHER, 32, will make his seventh appearance at a World Championships. ABD EL AKHER won his Grand Prix medals in 2009 and 2014 with silver in Qingdao and most recently bronze in Tashkent. The Egyptian has never qualified for a Olympics which is something he plans to change in what will be expected to be last his Olympic cycle and will need to start collecting more qualification points to make that ambition a reality.

Instagram: @hatemabdelakher__

Ali HAZEM -90kg

Five-time African Championships medallist HAZEM, 24, has been included in his country’s World Championships team for the first time. HAZEM has been largely inactive over the last few years with only four competitions to his name since 2015 with all three being his own continental championships. The Egyptian fought at the Budapest Grand Prix in August and defeated Sebastian TEMESI (AUS) as well as Junior World Championships silver medallist Robert FLORENTINO (DOM) before losing out to TOTH Krisztian (HUN) who went on to win gold.

Instagram: @alihazemm

Ramadan DARWISH -100kg

Former world bronze medallist DARWISH, 30, is one of Egypt’s most decorated judoka. Four-time Grand Prix winner DARWISH won his World Championships bronze in 2009 and is still a force on the international stage almost a decade later. The London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympian won his last IJF gold medal in 2017 with victory at the Tashkent Grand Prix and has all the experience in the world when it comes to the big stage and the tactical nous to go along with it.

Instagram: @ramadandarwishh

El Salvador (ESA)

Juan Diego TURCIOS -81kg

Former Pan American Open silver medallist TURCIOS, 25, is best known for his shock win over Roman MOUSTOPOULOS (GRE) at the Rio 2016 Olympics. TURCIOS registered two scores without reply to stun the Greek as he used his uchi-mata and uki-waza for an Olympic moment that is undoubtedly the highlight of his career thus far. The four-time World Championships competitor showed that his win was more than merited by giving former world champion Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO) a torrid time in the next round before narrowly losing out on penalties.

Instagram: @diego_brat

Estonia (EST)

Oscar PERTELSON -73kg

Estonian national champion PERTELSON, 24, steps up to the World Championships stage for the first time in his career. PERTELSON has seen action at three Grand Prix and a Junior World Championships in 2013 but has never entered the medal equation on an international assignment. The Estonian put together successive wins at the European Championships in April before coming undone against Ferdinand KARAPETIAN (ARM) who subsequently won gold.

Kristjan TONISTE -81kg

Former European Cup bronze medallist TONISTE, 24, has been to one World Championships where he had the opportunity to lock horns with the Olympic champion Khasan KHALMURZAEV (RUS). TONISTE, who is ranked just outside the world’s top 100 judoka at -81kg, gave a good account of himself against the Russian - who went on to take bronze at Budapest 2017 – as he lost by a waza-ari score from a ko-soto-gari. The Estonian all-rounder has been to eight Grand Prix and one Grand Slam and will be aiming to have a more fruitful day than he has at those nine events combined.

Instagram: @kristjan_t6niste

Klen Kristofer KALJULAID -90kg

Minsk European Open bronze medallist KALJULAID, 23, made his Worlds bow last year where he was disqualified against Mihael ZGANK. KALJULAID picked up three penalties after a below-par display while ZGANK, who was representing Slovenia, progressed to the finals and finished with silver. The former Junior European Cup bronze medallist made the switch from -81kg to -90kg in 2017 and is currently ranked just outside the worlds’s top 50 after 18 months at the heavier weight.

Grigori MINASKIN -100kg

Former European Championships bronze medallist MINASKIN, 27, will hope to get into his stride at his fourth World Championships. MINASKIN has won two contests on the grandest stage of the IJF World Judo Tour. The 16-time Grand Prix participant placed at the Hohhot Grand Prix last time out with a fifth-place finish in China. MINASKIN showed the best judo of his career in China as he beat WANG Fei (CHN) with a modified kata-guruma, CIRJENICS Miklos (HUN) with a tomoe-nage and two-time world silver medallist NISHIYAMA Daiki (JPN) with a yoko-otoshi with all three stirring victories coming by ippon.

Fiji (FIJ)

Tevita TAKAYAWA -100kg

Japan-based TAKAYAWA, 22, fought at the 2015 World Championships and has also appeared at the Tokyo Grand Slam on two occasions. A standout swimmer in his teenage years, TAKAYAWA now studies Business Law at Ryutsu Keizai University in the Ibaraki Prefecture where he also trains with members of the Japanese team. Fiji’s one and only representative at Baku 2018 is capable than improving on his 2015 return where he went out in first contest against Ibrahim KHALAF (JOR) by ippon.

Instagram: @tevitatakayawa

Finland (FIN)

Katri KAKKO -52kg

Minsk European Open silver medallist KAKKO, 24, returns to the World Championships stage for the first time since her 2015 debut. KAKKO has contested one Grand Prix and as many Grand Slam events with all of her medals coming from European Cup and European Open events. The Finnish fighter lost out to Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) at Astana 2015 and will return with new techniques and motivation in one of the most competitive weight categories in the sport.

Instagram: @katrikakko

Emilia KANERVA -63kg

Former Cadet World Championships silver medallist KANERVA, 19, is one of the most promising judoka Finland has produced in a long time. KANERVA has shone as a junior with Junior European Championships and European Youth Olympic Festival bronze medals to go along with her Worlds prize and is now poised for the transition to the senior stage. The teenager will be counting down the days until her senior World Championships debut where her speedy ouchi-gari could be illustrated to great effect.

Instagram: @emppuhelmiina

Aatu LAAMANEN -90kg

Dubrovnik European Cup gold medallist LAAMANEN, 22, makes his first start at a World Championships. LAAMANEN made his IJF debut in August at the Budapest Grand Prix where he defeated VER Gabor (HUN) by a waza-ari before being edged out by Milan RANDL (SVK) by a single score at the end of the contest.

Jaakko ALLI -90kg

Former Sarajevo European Cup bronze medallist ALLI, 26, is set for a third appearance at the World Championships. ALLI fought in 2015 and 2017 at the premier event on the circuit and lost his opening contest in both editions. The Finnish fighter was beaten by Alexandre IDDIR (FRA) by ippon and last year by Peter ZILKA (SVK) by a waza-ari from koshi-waza. ALLI will be hoping to strike it lucky and record his first Worlds contest win at his third attempt.

Instagram: @jaakkoalli

France (FRA)

Melanie CLEMENT -48kg

Two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist CLEMENT, 26, has featured regularly for her country since 2016. The lightest member of France’s 18-strong team for Baku 2018 did not have to wait long for IJF honours with Grand Prix silver in Germany in 2017 and a month later won bronze in Tbilisi. CLEMENT joined a Grand Slam podium for the first time in the summer of 2017 in Ekaterinburg which led to her selection for the 2017 World Championships and a respectable seventh-place finish. France’s number one -48kg judoka will be seeded in Azerbaijan.

Instagram: @melanie__clement

Amandine BUCHARD -52kg

World Judo Masters silver medallist BUCHARD, 23, won the Junior World Championships in 2014 at the same weight and is in the best form of her rising career. BUCHARD has pedigree at the senior Worlds after winning bronze in 2014 and a seventh-place last year but the high-flying Frenchwoman has since took control of the weight category by topping the IJF World Ranking List. The Tokyo 2020 contender took silver at the Paris Grand Slam in February, won gold at the Tbilisi Grand Prix a month later and earned silver at the Zagreb Grand Prix last time out in July.

Instagram: @buchardamandine_52

Helene RECEVEAUX -57kg

World bronze medallist RECEVEAUX, 27, is in pole position in France at -57kg. The eight-time Grand Prix medallist has won medals at every level she has graced with her world-class skills and can count on a seeded position for Baku 2018. RECEVEAUX, who is aiming to qualify for her first Olympics at Tokyo 2020, took silver at the Tbilisi Grand Prix earlier this year and will be in the medal hunt for France on day three.

Instagram: @helenereceveaux

Priscilla GNETO -57kg

London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist GNETO, 27, is a key member of the French squad. GNETO, whose younger sister Astride just missed out on selection for Baku, won Olympic, European, Grand Prix and Grand Slam medals at -52kg before moving up to -57kg following Rio 2016. GNETO has elite sport stock in her blood, as her dad was a top-flight football player in Ligue 1, France’s top tier, and played for the Ivory Coast while her mother played handball for the African nation. The highly-popular fighter, who hails from Ajaccio, Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean Sea, won the European title last year and makes her long-awaited return to IJF duty following a knee injury.

Instagram: @priscilla_gnetoo

Clarisse AGBEGNENOU -63kg

World champion and Olympic silver medallist AGBEGNENOU, 25, is the powerhouse of the -63kg category. The formidable Frenchwoman is one of the most consistent judoka in the sport having reached the final of the last four World Championships with a return of two gold medals (2017, 2014) and two silver medals (2015, 2013). Talk of an inevitable showdown with arch-rival and Olympic champion Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO) has been consuming a lot of attention from fans and AGBEGNENOU has a slight edge in their dramatic head-to-head series with a 5:4 winning record over the Slovenian star. The charismatic champion is riding a 13-fight winning-streak but has not fought since April in order to focus on world-class training camps at home and abroad.

Instagram: @clarisse_agbegnenou

AGBEGNENOU (white judogi) powers past her opposition

Marie Eve GAHIE -70kg

Four-time Grand Prix gold medallist GAHIE, 21, returns for a second attempt at World Championships following a fifth-place finish at Budapest 2017. The former Junior World Championships bronze medallist won bronze at her home Grand Slam in February, won gold at the Tbilisi Grand Prix in March and captured gold at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July. The French youngster will not be expected to walk away from the top event of the IJF World Judo Tour in 2018 without a medal.

Instagram: @marieeve.gh

Audrey TCHEUMEO -78kg

Former world champion and double Olympic medallist TCHEUMEO, 28, is the most experienced member of the French women’s team. Long-time -78kg standout TCHEUMEO won bronze at London 2012 and silver at Rio 2016 and has won all three colours of medals available at the World Championships. The five-time Grand Slam winner has won gold medals this year in Paris and Tbilisi and a silver medal at the European Championships as well as bronze at the Zagreb Grand Prix.

Instagram: @tcheumeo

Madeleine MALONGA -78kg

European champion MALONGA, 24, makes her World Championships debut this year and will be confident of attaining the top title on the IJF World Judo Tour at her first attempt. The three-time Grand Prix winner, who will vie with TCHEUMEO for selection for Tokyo 2020, has won five Grand Slam medals and took silver at her first World Judo Masters event last year. MALONGA has been in golden form in 2018 with wins at the continental championships and the Zagreb Grand Prix.

Instagram: @mado_m

Anne Fatoumata M BAIRO +78kg

Two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist M BAIRO, 25, joined the revived Openweight World Championships last year where the heavyweight finished seventh. M BAIRO is yet to win gold on the IJF World Judo Tour but has made an impression over the last 12 months by winning two Grand Prix medals and a fifth-place at the Tokyo Grand Slam. The Tokyo 2020 hopeful will have an outside chance of a medal in Baku.

Instagram: @anne_fatou

Luka MKHEIDZE -60kg

Madrid European Open winner MKHEIDZE, 22, is a surprise inclusion for France at Baku 2018. MKHEIDZE has only one cap to his name on the IJF World Judo Tour from the Zagreb Grand Prix last year where he went out in the second round. Now is the time at the halfway point of this Olympic cycle to show faith in emerging talent and the young Frenchman will be looking to repay his coaching team for their bold decision to hand him a first World Championships start.

Daniel JEAN -66kg

Two-time Grand Prix bronze medallist JEAN, 21, has looked at home on the IJF World Judo Tour in 2018 in his first year as a senior competitor. JEAN has made a promising start to life on the international circuit but will be tested to his limit and perhaps beyond when he dons his judogi for the first time at a World Championships. The newcomer to the IJF’s premier competition will go in under the radar which will help him and has been selected for the experience rather than because he has immediate expectations of medalling in Azerbaijan.

Instagram: @jeandanieladrien

Benjamin AXUS -73kg

Madrid European Open gold medallist AXUS, 23, is best known for a bronze medal finish at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam last year. The confident Frenchman finished fifth at the season-launching Tunis Grand Prix in January before a brace of fruitless outings at Grand Slam events in Düsseldorf and Ekaterinburg. AXUS, a former Junior Europe Championships gold medallist, has won medals at the European Cup and European Open level this year but will to have to produce a herculean performance to be a medal contender at his second World Championships.

Instagram: @benjamiaxus

Guillaume CHAINE -73kg

French veteran CHAINE, 31, will be one of the oldest World Championships debutants at Baku 2018. CHAINE has been on the international circuit since 2009 and has had his share of opportunities on the IJF World Judo Tour but he can finally complete a lifelong ambition of representing his country on the biggest annual stage in the sport. The ESBM Judo Club player won bronze at the final edition of the Düsseldorf Grand Prix last year and put together a run of six contest wins to earn gold at the Saarbrucken European Cup in July.

Instagram: @guillaume_chaine

Alpha Oumar DJALO -81kg

Ippon-seoi-nage technical DJALO, 21, has made a solid start to life on the IJF World Judo Tour. It’s a transitional period for France’s men’s team with new and exciting young judoka filling out much of their Worlds roster and DJALO is at the centre of that. The strong-willed youngster took silver at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam in February and finished seventh at the European Championships in April. DJALO is well-placed for a run at qualifying for Tokyo 2020 and even before Baku can claim to be his country’s number one judoka at -81kg.

Axel CLERGET -90kg

CLERGET, 31, has been part of the French senior setup for over a decade. The six-time Grand Prix medallist made his World Championships debut in 2009 and looked set for early success at the top level. A World Judo Masters silver medal in 2011 enhanced his reputation further but he played second-fiddle to Alain SCHMITT at -81kg in the run-up to London 2012 and to Alexandre IDDIR on the road to Rio at -90kg. CLERGET had to wait until 2017 to make his second appearance at a World Championships and failed to do himself justice as he was eliminated in the third round. However, the stalwart was part of France’s mixed team who won bronze a year ago and this year he will aim for success on both the individual and team front.

Instagram: @clerget_axel

Aurelien DIESSE -90kg

Junior European Championships gold medallist DIESSE, 20, was a late addition to France’s team for the World Championships. The former -81kg judoka benefited from his country not selecting a heavyweight this year as there was still once space left and it was awarded to the young Frenchman to complete an 18-strong team. DIESSE won the Sarajevo European Cup in May with all five contest wins coming by way of ippon.

Instagram: @prince_diesse

Cyrille MARET -100kg

Olympic bronze medallist MARET, 31, has matured into a world-class -100kg judoka after his Rio 2016 exploits. MARET, a keen fisherman in his spare time, is the rock of the French team. If those around him are perturbed, he can bring them together and galvanise the squad by his words and by his actions. Brave and bold on the tatami, four-time Grand Slam winner MARET, who briefly flirted with the idea of a full-time switch to the +100kg category last year, will be out to win his first World Championships medal and can on the support on an entire nation.

Instagram: @cyrillemaret

Alexandre IDDIR -100kg

Olympian IDDIR, 27, made the leap from -90kg to -100kg last year after winning Grand Prix and Grand Slam honours at the lighter weight as well as going to Rio 2016 where he finished seventh. The highly-regarded Flam 91 Judo Club member has won a couple of European Cup medals up at -100kg and managed a fifth-place at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam in March. IDDIR has the quality to put it all together and make a splash at the World Championships at his new weight and will command the attention of his peers despite his low ranking.

Instagram: @alexiddir

*Entry is subject to change. Teams are as of 30 August. This preview should not be reprinted or amended in any way without permission from the IJF.

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