Karene AGONO WORA -70kg
African Championships bronze medallist AGONO WORA, 27, has represented Gabon in three different weight categories with a fair amount of success. AGONO WORA contested the -52kg category as a junior and moved up to -57kg in 2011 before skipping the -63kg category entirely and transitioning to the -70kg division in 2017. Two-time African Open silver medallist AGONO WORA posted a winning 2:1 record at her continental championships this year and looked strong and explosive at -70kg which bodes well for her introduction to the World Championships in Azerbaijan.
Sarah Myriam MAZOUZ -78kg
MAZOUZ, 31, represented Canada from 2012 to 2014 before declaring for Gabon in the same year and working her way to featuring for the African nation at the Rio 2016 Olympics. MAZOUZ, who describes herself as a ‘Judoka, Mom and Entrepreneur’ on her Instagram profile, returned to the competition circuit in 2018 after taking time out post-Olympics to start a family. The highly-experienced fighter finished fifth at the African Championships in April before bowing out in the first round at the Minsk European Open in August. MAZOUZ ends her social media bio by saying: “They say I won’t qualify for Tokyo because I’m a mom, watch me do it!”
Terence KOUAMBA -81kg
Former Junior African Championships bronze medallist KOUAMBA, 25, who has been based at the IJF Training Centre in Hungary since 2017 will make his fifth Worlds start in Baku. KOUAMBA, who will look to utilise his highly-effective uchi-mata, is motivated to win a contest at the World Championships for the first time and has wins over former Junior European Championships bronze medallist Stefan MAJDOV (SRB) and two-time Junior Pan American Championships bronze medallist Yuta GALARRETA VILLAR (PER).
Paul KIBIKAI -90kg
African Games silver medallist KIBIKAI, 27, is a veteran of three World Championships. KIBIKAI has fought at the last three editions of the IJF’s most famed event and recorded one contest win which came in 2014. The Gabon judoka featured for his country at the Rio 2016 Olympics where he picked up the biggest and most memorable win of his career as he beat Hussein AL-AAMERI (IRQ) on penalties. KIBIKAI was held down by then world champion NAGASE Takanori (JPN) in the next round but acquitted himself well and will have cherished every moment as he lived out his dream of competing at an Olympics Games.
Faye NJIE -73kg
Former African Championships silver medallist NJIE, 24, made a meaningful World Championships debut a year ago as he won his first contest by scoring three times. NJIE bombarded Ayton SIQUIR (MOZ) with attacks and scored twice with his ippon-seoi-nage before wrapping up a dominant win by holding down his African counterpart with a yoko-shiho-gatame hold. NJIE lost to Georgian great Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) in the next round by ippon from an ouchi-gari but returns to the same stage in 2018 with something to build on. The Gambian judoka narrowly lost out to current Asian Games gold medallist Didar KHAMZA (KAZ) in his one contest at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Omar JOBE -100kg
World Championships tyro JOBE, 30, has fought at the Paris Grand Slam, one of the greatest events in the sport, on two occasions but is still looking to make an impact on international soil. JOBE tapped out to Aleksandr MARMELJUK (EST) from a juji-gatame in 2016 and was thrown by Baboukar MANE (SEN) with an uchi-mata for the maximum score last year. The world number 251, who finished seventh at the African Championships in 2011, will leave it all on the tatami in Baku with the knowledge that his could be his first and last World Championships.
Mariam JANASHVILI -52kg
Former Junior World Championships silver medallist JANASHVILI, 22, is at the forefront of Georgia’s ever-improving female division. JANASHVILI earned the attention of judo aficionados when she clinched silver at the Cadet World Championships in 2013 to follow her bronze medal from the European Youth Olympic Festival and gold at the Cadet European Championships. The trailblazer from Georgia moved up to the senior stage last year and is still negotiating the move which is arguably the toughest time in the career of an elite judoka. JANASHVILI, who placed seventh at the Tbilisi Grand Prix in March and fifth in the Minsk European Open in August, can count on her nine male counterparts to rally behind Georgia’s solitary female representative in Baku.
Amiran PAPINASHVILI -60kg
Former European champion PAPINASHVILI, 30, won world bronze for Georgia in 2013 and has been one of the most consistent performers after being among the top judoka at his weight for over 10 years. PAPINASHVILI finished fifth at Rio 2016 with a 3:2 winning record as he excelled early on including a sensational quarter-final win over current world champion TAKATO Naohisa (JPN) with a yoko-otoshi before defeat at the hands of eventual Olympic champion Beslan MUDRANOV (RUS) from an uchi-mata. Diyorbek UROZBOEV (UZB) ended Georgia’s medal hopes at -60kg in Rio de Janeiro by a single score from a sumi-gaeshi. PAPINASHVILI won bronze at the Budapest Grand Prix in August and is capable of mounting a major title challenge on day one.
Lukhumi CHKHVIMIANI -60kg
Two-time Grand Prix winner CHKHVIMIANI, 25, has been included in his country’s World Championships squad for the first time. CHKHVIMIANI has been putting his teammate PAPINASHVILI under pressure for the last couple of years with a flurry of Grand Prix and Grand Slam medals. Georgia has a wealth of riches across the board in their men’s roster and has made the logical decision of picking both men at -60kg. CHKHVIMIANI has won his home Grand Prix twice (2017 and 2018) and has earned Grand Slam bronze medals in Baku and Düsseldorf with the latter coming in March.
Vazha MARGVELASHVILI -66kg
World bronze medallist MARGVELASHVILI, 24, is a key member of the Georgian setup having flourished on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2016. The former European Championships gold medallist has won three Grand Prix gold medals and has quickly progressed to Grand Slam and World Judo Masters honours. MARGVELASHVILI capped his World Championships a year ago by winning bronze and has topped the podium in 2018 after a home victory in Tbilisi.
Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI -73kg
Fan favourite SHAVDATUASHVILI, 26, starred for his country at London 2012 when he was crowned Olympic champion at the age of 20. SHAVDATUASHVILI ruled the -66kg category in London and in 2014 moved up to -73kg. The Georgian endured a frustrating start to life at -73kg with a spate of eliminations in the early rounds including Havana, Cuba, where he broke down in tears hours after his defeat at his hotel. However, as the saying goes, class is permanent and his performances improved in time for the livewire to reach his second Games and become a two-weight Olympic medallist with bronze in Rio. SHAVDATUASHVILI took silver at the Paris Grand Slam in February and is craving the opportunity to finally win his first World Championships medal.
Zebeda REKHVIASHVILI -81kg
Four-time Grand Slam medallist REKHVIASHVILI, 27, has been called up to the World Championships for the third time. The former standout -73kg judoka moved up to -81kg in 2015 due to the immense level of domestic competition at the weight below and has gradually established himself after missing out on a place at the Rio 2016 Olympics. REKHVIASHVILI started to build momentum at -81kg after a surprise silver medal at the Paris Grand Slam last year and has followed up with a brace of Grand Slam medals from Ekaterinburg, Russia, in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Ushangi MARGIANI -90kg
World bronze medallist MARGIANI, 24, has reached new heights as a judoka following his move up from -81kg to -90kg in 2016. MARGIANI started to expand his curriculum vitae last year with bronze medals at the Baku Grand Slam and Tbilisi Grand Prix which gave him the foundation to go on and win a fairly surprising medal at the World Championships. The powerful Georgian won bronze at the Tokyo Grand Slam in December to close out the finest year of his career and, after a silver medal at the Budapest Grand Prix in August, is poised to challenge for more honours at the eight-day festival of judo.
Beka GVINIASHVILI -90kg
Two-time World Judo Masters winner GVINIASHVILI, 22, has been drafted in to replace Georgia’s original selection of Giorgi PAPUNASHVILI (GEO). GVINIASHVILI won the Bratislava European Cup over teammate and former world champion Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO) to prompt a late reshuffle by the Georgian federation. GVINIASHVILI has won five Grand Prix titles and gold in Baku (2017 Grand Slam) but is still striving to capture his first senior World Championships medals and few would be surprised if the world number two stars in Azerbaijan.
Varlam LIPARTELIANI -100kg
Olympic and world silver medallist LIPARTELIANI, 29, is seen as the captain of the Georgian team. The four-time World Championships medallist has flown the flag for his country at the top level for the last 10 years. LIPARTELIANI, whose largely been training for these Worlds in Japan with a handful of teammates and members of the Japanese team, has won five Grand Prix, four Grand Slam, three European titles, a World Judo Masters gold medal and inspired his team to team glory on several occasions. The revered Georgian, who jumped up to -100kg in 2017, seeks gold and greatness in neighbouring Azerbaijan.
Guram TUSHISHVILI +100kg
World Judo Masters winner TUSHISHVILI, 23, leads the world ranking and will be determined to leave Baku with gold. The young heavyweight made his name last year when he won the Baku Grand Slam and European Championships back-to-back before giving French icon Teddy RINER (FRA) his toughest fight in close to a decade. Former -100kg hope TUSHISHVILI switched gears in 2016 and decided to take his athletic frame up a category where his speed and workrate would torment the bulkier and often slower judoka. The Georgian has thrived and breathed new life into the increasingly competitive heavyweight division. Interestingly, TUSHISHVILI has never left a competition with a silver or bronze medal. If the highly-popular ‘Tower of Tbilisi’ reaches the final, he wins. If he’s engaged in a bronze medal contest, he loses. Mental focus and his attacking nature will be crucial to his title bid in Baku.
Theresa STOLL -57kg
Munich judoka Theresa STOLL, 22, will be seeded at her first World Championships where she will compete in the same category as her twin sister Amelie STOLL. They have faced each other five times on the international stage between 2015 and 2018 with Theresa dominating their series and the bragging rights in the STOLL household with a 4:1 winning record. Theresa STOLL has won two Grand Prix gold medals, two silver, a Grand Slam bronze and took silver at the European Championships in April.
Amelie STOLL -57kg
Reigning u23 European Championships winner Amelie STOLL, 22, competes for the second time at the World Championships. The two-time Grand Prix bronze medallist won one and lost one at Budapest 2017 and can expect to again be pulling double duty by fighting in the individual and team competition. Only one STOLL can go to Tokyo 2020, as countries can only select one judoka per weight category at an Olympics, but the sisters will be trying not to think of that in Baku and instead doing everything they can to win for their country and each other.
Martyna TRAJDOS -63kg
European Games gold medallist TRAJDOS, 29, is one of the most popular and accomplished members of the German team. TRAJDOS has won Grand Prix, Grand Slam and continental gold and in this Olympic cycle is tasked with fulfilling her potential and winning world and Olympic honours. The German star has been among the medals in 2018 with bronze at the Paris Grand Slam, bronze at the European Championships and silver at the Budapest Grand Prix. TRAJDOS will be seeded for the Worlds and should mount her strongest push for honours at the biggest competition of the year.
Nadja BAZYNSKI -63kg
Former Jeju Grand Prix bronze medallist BAZYNSKI, 25, is the daughter of former German international and national team coach Michael BAZYNSKI who is now part of the Dutch setup. The 18-time Grand Prix participant makes her World Championships debut in Baku and is in a rich vein of form. BAZYNSKI won gold at the Madrid European Open in June and took bronze at the Slovenian European Cup several weeks later.
Giovanna SCOCCIMARRO -70kg
SCOCCIMARRO, 20, was crowned Germany’s fifth Junior World Championships gold medallist last year. The former Cadet European Championships gold medallist took a scintillating silver medal at the European Championships last year and is still bidding for her first IJF World Judo Tour medal. SCOCCIMARRO went 1:1 at Grand Slam events in Düsseldorf and Paris this year before winning the Saarbrucken European Cup in July.
Anna Maria WAGNER -78kg
European Championships bronze medallist WAGNER, 22, is quickly establishing herself as one of the leading judoka at -78kg. Since a round two exit on her World Championships debut last year, WAGNER has won the u23 European title and in 2018 bronze medals at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam, continental championships and Zagreb Grand Prix. The rising star has the advantage over teammate MALZAHN at this early stage in the race for Tokyo 2020 based on recent results.
Luise MALZAHN -78kg
Former World Championships bronze medallist MALZAHN, 28, has the know-how of how to win medals on the IJF World Judo Tour. The 18-time Grand Prix medallist, which is a record number shared with Otgontsetseg GALBADRAKH (KAZ), finished fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympics after losing to Anamari VELENSEK (SLO). MALZAHN, who won her world medal in 2015, took silver at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam in March and won the Saarbrucken European Cup in July.
Carolin WEISS +78kg
Four-time Grand Slam medallist WEISS, 25, makes her World Championships bow in Baku. The former European Championships bronze medallist has finally earned her call-up to the most important event on the calendar and will be focused on the making the most of her opportunity at a key time in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification phase. WEISS has won a brace of Grand Slam bronze medals this year in Düsseldorf and Ekaterinburg which is more than an indication that Germany’s only heavyweight at Baku 2018 is on track for a strong showing.
Moritz PLAFKY -60kg
PLAFKY, 22, wons two contests on his World Championships debut last year. The little-known young judoka has been handed another tilt at world honours after a gutsy effort at Budapest 2017. The Slovenian European Cup silver medallist has a fifth-place finish to his name at a Grand Prix and a seventh-place from a Grand Slam. PLAKFY holds victories over Olympic and world bronze medallist Diyorbek UROZBOEV (UZB) and former European champion Walide KHYAR (FRA).
Sebastian SEIDL -66kg
Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist SEIDL, 28, is a veteran of four World Championships with a best result of seventh-place in 2015. The Rio 2016 Olympian delivered the best performance of his career in the French capital in February with a 4:1 winning record as only Olympic silver medallist and former world champion AN Baul (KOR) defeated the German fighter. SEIDL suffered second round defeats in Zagreb and Budapest in the summer but has enough quality to suggest that a major result is within his reach in this Olympic cycle.
Anthony ZINGG -73kg
Three-time Grand Prix bronze medallist ZINGG, 24, will embark on his second World Championships in Baku. ZINGG posted a 1:1 record at Budapest 2017 but has stood out on the IJF World Judo Tour from his highlight reel moments. The -73kg fighter has a habit of generating some of the most spectacular ippons on the circuit and has dispatched top names with authority. This year alone ZINGG has conquered two-time world bronze medallist Musa MOGUSHKOV (RUS) with an osoto-gari and three-time Grand Prix winner Zhansay SMAGULOV (KAZ) with a sumi-gaeshi with both wins coming by way of ippon.
Igor WANDTKE -73kg
Three-time Grand Slam medallist WANDTKE, 27, makes his fourth attempt at World Championships honours. WANDTKE has to go back to 2016 and the Havana Grand Prix for his last IJF World Judo Tour medal (bronze) having endured something of a medal drought over the last two years. The Hannover judoka is aiming to restore his career to his pre-Olympic run where he surged to Rio 2016 on the strength of his Grand Slam medal-winning displays.
Dominic RESSEL -81kg
Zagreb Grand Prix gold medallist RESSEL, 24, won his first Grand Prix title in July as his Croatian triumph ensured his selection for his first World Championships. The former European Championships silver medallist won bronze at his country’s own Grand Slam in February with a 4:1 record. RESSEL will see his win in Zagreb as a potential turning point in his career as he defeated five world-class opponents and all by way of ippon including Junior World Championships gold medallist Matthias CASSE (BEL) in the final.
Alexander WIECZERZAK -81kg
World champion WIECZERZAK, 27, produced one of the most remarkable victories in the history of the competition last year. WIECZERZAK arrived at Budapest 2017 as the world number 124 and left as the world champion. The Cologne-based judoka won all six contests in Hungary for a stunning win with Olympic bronze medallist Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN) and Khasan KHALMURZAEV (RUS) among his victims. WIECZERZAK has been hit by injuries since then and made his eagerly-awaited return to the IJF World Judo Tour in August when he finished seventh in his red backpatch.
Eduard TRIPPEL -90kg
Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist TRIPPEL, 21, joins the World Championships stage for the first time this year. The Rüsselsheim judoka has two fifth-place finishes to his name from Grand Prix events and has shown all the signs that he will become a major player in the -90kg category in the latter stages of this Olympic cycle. TRIPPEL took part in the first European Mixed Team Championships in July and will be vital to his country’s chances of team success on the eighth and final day of the World Championships.
Karl-Richard FREY -100kg
FREY, 27, has won two out of three variants of World Championships medals and will be hoping to strike gold at his third attempt. The 12-time Grand Prix medallist, who finished fifth at his first Olympics in 2016, won world bronze in 2014, silver in 2015 and has his sights on gold in 2018. FREY, whose younger brother Johannes FREY did not make the cut for Baku 2018 in the heavyweight category, has been on the IJF podium this year. FREY won bronze at the Agadir Grand Prix in March and took silver last time out at the Budapest Grand Prix in August.
Emmanuel NARTEY -73kg
London 2012 Olympian NARTEY, 35, is one of Africa’s most experienced judoka at Baku 2018. The Team Bath judoka is a veteran of 21 Grand Prix and 16 Grand Slam events and on his best days has thrown Olympic champions for ippon. NARTEY is currently contemplating a potential Tokyo 2020 bid and will have a better idea of whether that is a wise idea following his eighth World Championships. The Ghanaian, who has wins over Olympic champions KIM Jae-Bum (KOR) Mansur ISAEV (RUS), told his incredible story in his 2015 autobiography ‘My Olympic Dream’.
Victor AHIAVOR -90kg
Former African Open silver medallist AHIAVOR, 33, will campaign at this fifth World Championships. AHIAVOR, who finished fifth at the African Championships this year, has had one of the busiest years of his career with seven competitions already under his belt in 2018. The former Kent International bronze medallist, who like teammate NARTEY lives in Britain, will give his all for his country in Azerbaijan and hope to inspire the next generation of Ghanaian judoka.
Great Britain (GBR)
Chelsie GILES -52kg
Two-time Grand Prix medallist GILES, 21, is one of a host of exciting young British judoka coming through the ranks at their Centre of Excellence in Walsall. In her first full year on the IJF World Judo Tour the young Briton has been rewarded for her impressive displays with a call-up for her first World Championships. The Coventry Judo Club starlet took silver at the Antalya Grand Prix in April and won bronze at the Budapest Grand Prix in August and will not be in Baku just to make up the numbers.
Nekoda SMYTHE-DAVIS -57kg
World bronze medallist SMYTHE-DAVIS, 25, from London’s Ealing Judo Club is a vital member of Team GB. SMYTHE-DAVIS starred at Budapest 2017 with a record of 4:1 to seal the best result of her thriving career. The seven-time Grand Prix medallist has made further progress this year by winning bronze at the Paris Grand Slam and gold at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam to cement her place inside the world’s top eight and therefore a seeded start at the World Championships.
Alice SCHLESINGER -63kg
SCHLESINGER, 30, won bronze at the 2009 World Championships in Rotterdam for Israel. The veteran switched to Great Britain in 2015 as she qualifies through her English mother and has flourished in the BJA setup. SCHLESINGER has been a big success story for GB having won five Grand Prix medals and four Grand Slam medals – including two gold – while wearing the Union Jack on her judogi. The former European bronze medallist has not been amongst the medals in 2018 but interestingly has history in Baku having won Azerbaijan’s Grand Slam in 2016 and 2017.
Amy LIVESEY -63kg
LIVESEY, 24, a product of SKK Judo Club in St. Helens, Liverpool, will make her second appearance at a World Championships following a credible seventh-place finish a year ago. Walsall-based LIVESEY, whose sister Bekky and brother Owen are also judoka for Great Britain, has won Budapest Grand Prix bronze in 2016 and the same colour at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam last year as well as silver at the Cancun Grand Prix. The tenacious British judoka will be a dangerous threat from her unseeded position for the top-ranked -63kg athletes.
Sally CONWAY -70kg
Olympic bronze medallist CONWAY, 31, is the standard bearer for the British team. The London 2012 Olympian and Rio 2016 medallist has entered her prime following her medal-winning display in Brazil. This year CONWAY has medalled at five consecutive competitions for the first time in her career and is one of the most feared judoka in the division. The Scottish international has won gold at the Paris Grand Slam and a trio of bronze medals at Grand Prix events in Agadir, Zagreb and Budapest as well as silver at the European Championships.
Gemma HOWELL -70kg London 2012 Olympian HOWELL, 28, moved from -63kg to -70kg last year and has never looked back. The highly-popular battler came through the youth system at the renowned Wolverhampton Judo Club and has followed the elite programme in Britain when it moved from Dartford to Walsall. Animal lover HOWELL won bronze at Tunis Grand Prix at the start of the year and capped a remarkable -70kg podium and tournament for her country by winning bronze at the European Championships in April.
Natalie POWELL -78kg
Irfon Judo Club and Wales’ pride and joy POWELL, 27, won a career-best bronze at the 2017 World Championships. The 17-time Grand Prix medallist is one of the most active and consistent judoka in the British team and leads by example. Former world number one POWELL has won four bronze medals this year including two Grand Prix, one Grand Slam and the continental championships. Dubbed the ‘Welsh Wizard’ the British star, who graduated from Cardiff University in 2015 with a degree in Biomedical Sciences, will be determined to retain her spot on the Worlds podium.
Katie-Jemima YEATS-BROWN -78kg
Former gymnast YEATS-BROWN, 23, was discovered while playing rugby for her school and was recruited by Tonbridge Judo Club. YEATS-BROWN assembled a collection of international titles as a hugely talented junior with Cadet European Championships gold and Cadet World Championships bronze among her honours. The -63kg judoka changed to -70kg in 2015 and quickly made an impact with bronze medals on the Grand Prix and Grand Slam stage. The ascension of CONWAY at -70kg meant that YEATS-BROWN was always going to be playing catch up and in 2018 decided to switch to -78kg despite the ominous presence of teammate POWELL. The double double-barrelled judoka gave her latest switch credibility by beating 18-time Grand Prix medallist Luise MALZAHN (GER) and former world champion Marhinde VERKERK (NED) on her way to a fifth-place finish at the Budapest Grand Prix in August.
Sarah ADLINGTON +78kg
Edinburgh Judo Club member ADLINGTON, 32, has knuckled down and put her disappointment of missing out on qualification for Rio 2016 behind her to return to the medal picture on the IJF World Judo Tour. ADLINGTON, who won gold for Scotland on home soil at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, earned Grand Prix bronze medals in Cancun, Tashkent and The Hague to breathe new life into her career last year. The Shropshire, West Midlands native, took silver at the Madrid European Open in June and is more than ready for her fourth World Championships appearance and first since 2013.
Ashley MCKENZIE -60kg
Two-time European Championships bronze medallist MCKENZIE, 29, is the longest serving member of his country’s men’s team. MCKENZIE, who has been a crossover star into pop culture with appearances on reality televisions shows such as 'Celebrity Big Brother' and ‘Celebs on the Farm’, has graced the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics and believes that he can make his mark at the third attempt at Tokyo 2020. The Londoner is now a mature and polished performer on the IJF World Judo Tour and in 2018 has been a joy to watch. The all-action -60kg star has ramped up his Olympic ambitions by winning bronze at the Paris Grand Slam and at the European Championships in addition to the Zagreb Grand Prix.
Stuart MCWATT -81kg
Scottish judoka MCWATT, 21, is all set for his World Championships debut. The Saarbrucken European Cup winner signed off from the junior stage with a fifth-place at the Junior Worlds last year and has gradually been getting to grips with the world’s elite. MCWATT has entered the world’s top 50 on the World Ranking List and is ready to test himself at the greatest testing ground on the IJF calendar. This competition is about gaining more experience and strengthening himself physically and mentally for the gruelling Olympic qualification phase which was opened in July.
Max STEWART -90kg
STEWART, 25, is the son of 1988 Seoul Olympic bronze medallist Dennis STEWART. The former Qingdao Grand Prix winner, who at one stage was in contention for a spot at London 2012, has also picked up a Grand Prix bronze in Zagreb and two fifth-places on the Grand Slam stage. Judo is truly a familiar affair in his household as his older brother Elliot STEWART, 30, is a member of British Judo’s visually impaired team with the siblings both on track for Tokyo 2020. Since July, Olympic hope STEWART has won six contests and suffered three losses but the positive sign is that he has only been beaten in that time by the best of best such as defending world champion Nemanja MAJDOV (SRB) and former world champion Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO).
Elisavet TELTSIDOU -70kg
Former u23 European Championships silver medallist TELTSIDOU, 22, makes her third start at a World Championships in Baku. The Athens-based talent has won three medals at junior and u23 versions of the European Championships and earned her one IJF World Judo Tour medal to date in 2016 with a hard-fought bronze medal win at the Tbilisi Grand Prix. TELTSIDOU holds victories over standouts such as Olympic bronze medallist Laura VARGAS KOCH (GER) and four-time Grand Prix winner Bernadette GRAF (AUT).
Georgios AZOIDIS -73kg
One-time World Championships participant AZOIDIS, 25, is ranked outside the world’s top 100 judoka at -73kg but is keenly aware of the challenge that awaits him in Baku. The three-time Junior European Championships gold medallist has struggled to adapt to life on the IJF World Judo Tour with three fifth-places to show for 18 Grand Prix outings. The Thessaloníki fighter, who finished seventh at the Baku Grand Slam in 2016, has, to his credit, recorded wins over Olympic bronze medallist SAINJARGAL Nyam-Ochir (MGL), two-time Olympian Nicholas DELPOPOLO (USA) as well as London 2012 Olympic champion Mansur ISAEV (RUS). The challenge for AZOIDIS is to put wins together, over leading names and lower-ranked opponents alike, and there’s no reason why that can’t happen on the road to Tokyo 2020.
Alexios NTANATSIDIS -81kg
Former Junior World Championships gold medallist NTANATSIDIS, 25, makes his third trip to the World Championships. NTANATSIDIS has made marginal gains in 2018 by placing twice since the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification phase kicked off in May. The game Greek finished seventh at the Hohhot Grand Prix and fifth-place at the Zagreb Grand Prix to go along with a bronze medal at the Mediterranean Games. NTANATSIDIS has produced some significant scalps on the IJF World Judo Tour at expense of judoka such as former world silver medallist Srdjan MRVALJEVIC (MNE) and former Paris Grand Slam winner Shakhzodbek SABIROV (UZB)
Theodoros TSELIDIS -90kg
Russia-born TSELIDIS, 22, has hit the ground running since debuting for Greece this year. TSELIDIS, who took silver at the Russian Championships in 2017, elected to change to represent his family’s homeland of Greece and has made waves on the IJF World Judo Tour. The teak-tough fighter finished fifth on his IJF debut at the Tbilisi Grand Prix which led him to bronze at the European Championships and the same result at the Hohhot Grand Prix. The -90kg category has been put on red alert by the presence of a new contender in TSELIDIS who has triumphed over world bronze medallist Ushangi MARGIANI (GEO), Olympic champion BAKER Mashu (JPN) and former World Judo Masters bronze medallist VAN T END Noel (NED) among others.
Joshter ANDREW -81kg
Junior Oceania Championships winner ANDREW, 20, took bronze at the senior continental championships in April. ANDREW, who lives in Tamuning, Guam, is an exceptionally talented young man who has recently been exposed to the IJF World Judo Tour. The harai-goshi specialist saw action at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July and the Budapest Grand Prix in August. ANDREW has made small steps on the international stage as he aims for a long and prosperous career at the highest level. The World Championships will be a new level again for the youngster who will give his all when representing his island on the global stage.
Jacqueline SOLIS -48kg
Former Pan American Open bronze medallist SOLIS, 29, returns to the World Championships for the first time since her introduction in 2013. SOLIS lost to three-time Grand Prix gold medallist Monica UNGUREANU (ROU) in her one and only previous contest at the crown jewel of the IJF World Judo Tour. The experienced lightweight won gold at the Central American Games in 2013 which stands out as the finest moment of her career and ensured more notoriety for judo in her country. SOLIS finished fifth at the 2018 Central American Games with defeats to Cuban and Puerto Rican opposition.
Julio MOLINA -60kg
Former Pan American Open bronze medallist MOLINA, 23, campaigns at his second World Championships in Baku. MOLINA won gold at the Central American Games in July as he dispatched Colombian, Cuban and Dominican Republic opposition for top spot. The tai-otoshi expert narrowly lost out to David PULKRABEK (CZE) at Budapest 2017 by a waza-ari score from an ippon-seoi-nage. MOLINA proved difficult to beat on that day and his strong defence could give him a base to trouble some unsuspecting opposition in Azerbaijan’s capital city.
Mamadama SYLLA -78kg
World Championships newcomer SYLLA, 19, has joined the IJF circuit in 2018. The teenager is an unknown quantity with only two international appearances to her name. The Guinea judoka fought at the African Championships last year and was edged out in the first round by Souad BELLAKEHAL (ALG) by a single waza-ari score. SYLLA fought at the Agadir Grand Prix in March and was held down by Chantal WRIGHT (USA) with a kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame to lose by waza-ari-awasete-ippon.
Mamadou Samba BAH -73kg
BAH, 28, who lives in Conakry, Guinea, is on the verge of competing at his second World Championships. The harai-goshi specialist campaigned at the 2013 World Championships in Rio where he lost out by ippon to former Pan American Championships silver medallist Patrick GAGNE (CAN). Two-time African Championships competitor BAH made his first appearance on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2013 when he joined the Agadir Grand Prix this year. BAH emphatically defeated Magner MENDES (CPV) with a waza-ari from an osoto-gari helping him on his way to the second round. Dmytro KANIVETS (UKR) then halted the run of BAH by ippon from an ouchi-gari.
Abdoulaye MILLIMONO -90kg
Rio 2013 World Championships competitor MILLIMONO, 28, returns to the world stage for the first time in five years. The ippon-seoi-nage expert, who is ranked 347 in the world, has only made sporadic competition appearances outside of Guinea. MILLIMONO has fought at the African Championships in 2012 and 2017, the Worlds in 2013 and African Games in 2015. The Guinea judoka lost to Brazil-based Nacif ELIAS (LBN) by ippon in his one and only World Championships contest to date.
Michel KALIVOGUI -100kg
Ashi-waza expert KALIVOGUI, 30, makes his World Championships debut for his country. KALIVOGUI has only previously featured on the IJF World Judo Tour on one occasion when he lost his first contest at the 2017 Paris Grand Slam against Anis BEN KHALED (TUN) on penalties after being reprimanded three times. The powerful -100kg judoka graced the African Championships last year but was eliminated in the pool stage.
Diogo CESAR -66kg
Former Portugal international CESAR, 32, has represented the African nation of Guinea-Bissau since 2017. Lisbon-based CESAR, who is married to fellow GBS judoka Taciana LIMA CESAR who recently gave birth to their first son, finished fifth at the African Championships this year. The former Dakar Open bronze medallist finished with a record of 2:2 at his first taste of Africa’s top continental event. CESAR debuted for the African nation a year ago at Budapest 2017 where he was second best against Artur TE (KGZ) who won by a single waza-ari score.
Darren ELCOCK -66kg
Former Canada international ELCOCK, 22, is a multiple-time Canadian Championships winner at the cadet, junior and senior level. The osoto-gari technician only made his debut for Guyana earlier this month at the Pan American Open in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. ELCOCK was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and now trains out of Jason Morris' Judo Centre in New York, where he has diligently prepared for his first World Championships.
Gerard CADET -66kg
CADET, 37, will be one of the oldest World Championships debutants in the history of the competition. The former US National Championships silver medallist has represented Haiti since 2017 and has been highly-active for his new team. CADET saw action at the Pan American Championships and Cancun Grand Prix last year before travelling to Europe in 2018 for the Paris Grand Slam and Madrid European Open. In Cancun the former -60kg judoka submitted to Senne WYNS (BEL) from a ude-garami and in Paris this year was held down by Hevorh KHACHATRIAN (UKR) with a kata-gatame for ippon.
Philippe Abel METELLUS -73kg
Montreal Open bronze medallist METELLUS, 28, is set to make his World Championships debut. METELLUS, who finished seventh at the 2018 Central American Games, will test his resolve on the IJF World Judo Tour for the first time in Baku. The Montreal-based judoka defeated three-time Pan American Championships medallist Alejandro CLARA (ARG) by ippon in March and will be looking for more of the same in Baku.
Hong Kong (HKG)
Shuk Ki TSUI -52kg
Former Hong Kong Asian Open bronze medallist TSUI, 22, has been a regular on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2013 but finally makes her first start at a World Championships this year. TSUI actually earned her best result on the international circuit in her first IJF event as she finished fifth at the 2013 Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix. TSUI has beaten South Korean, Iranian and Sri Lankan opposition and could come up against anyone in Baku with over 130 countries registered for the biggest event of the year.
Po Sum LEUNG -57kg
Five-time continental open medallist LEUNG, 28, has represented Hong Kong at three World Championships and an Asian Games. LEUNG has featured at 17 Grand Prix and 12 Grand Slam events but is still searching for an elusive first IJF honour. The Hong Kong veteran submitted Viktoria MAJOROSOVA (SVK) with a juji-gatame at the World Championships last year before being thrown by DORJSUREN Sumiya (MGL) with an ippon-seoi-nage as the Mongolian went on to win gold. LEUNG finished seventh at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, in August after being confined to a repechage defeat by DORJSUREN.
Martin LAU -60kg
Three-time Cadet Asian Cup gold medallist LAU, 17, will be one of the youngest judoka at Baku 2018. LAU fought at both the Cadet and Junior World Championships last year where he lost his opening contests. The plucky teenager will not have to wait long for his Worlds debut as he will compete on day one in Azerbaijan and will be the first member of his team to grace the most anticipated event of the year. LAU is ranked outside the world’s top 200 and can expect to come up against a world-class opponent.
Kwok Wing LEE -73kg
Four-time Junior Asian Cup medallist LEE, 19, is primed for his World Championships debut. The teen hope fought at the Asian Games in August - the biggest event of his young career and an ideal precursor to the Worlds – and bowed out after his opening contest against Khalil REBAHI (QAT) by a waza-ari score. LEE is part of a new generation of young judoka in the Hong Kong national team who the national federation has high hopes for and are anxious to introduce them to the IJF World Judo Tour in time to make a push for Tokyo 2020 qualification.
CSERNOVICZKI Eva -48kg
London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist CSERNOVICZKI, 31, won World Championships bronze in 2011. The veteran Hungarian, who is coached by her father, will compete at her seventh World Championships in Baku where she will be of the most talented and experienced judoka in action on day one. The three-time Grand Prix gold medallist took silver at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam in February and earned the same colour medal at the European Championships in April.
PUPP Reka -52kg
Antalya Grand Prix bronze medallist PUPP, 22, will make her second World Championships appearance after a home debut last year at Budapest 2017. Former Junior European Championships gold medallist PUPP, whose coaching team includes 2005 world champion BRAUN Akos, finished fifth at the European Championships and seventh at the Zagreb Grand Prix as part of preparations for Baku 2018.
KNETIG Emoke -52kg
Belgrade European Cup winner KNETIG, 24, is a new inclusion for Hungary at a World Championships. KNETIG has experience of two Grand Prix events (Budapest 2015 and Budapest 2016) and will now be part of a complete team for the Worlds as Hungary have picked 18 judoka (nine men and nine women) which is the limit for each nation. KNETIG will aim to utilise her favoured ko-uchi-gari to advance in the preliminaries and surpass the expectations of the other judoka in the category.
KARAKAS Hedvig -57kg
Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist KARAKAS, 28, is one of the longest-serving and most successful members of the Hungarian team. Two-time Olympian KARAKAS finished fifth at London 2012 and seventh at Rio 2016 and won a shock World Championships bronze medal in 2009. KARAKAS took silver at the inaugural Düsseldorf Grand Slam and won bronze at Grand Prix in Zagreb and at home in Budapest to prepare for her eighth World Championships.
GERCSAK Szabina -70kg
Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics gold medallist GERCSAK, 22, won every honour possible as a junior. GERCSAK, who was the Junior World Championships gold medallist and European champion in 2015, won the u23 European Championships in 2016 and has already established herself in the world’s top 20 on the IJF World Judo Tour. The youngster has won four Grand Prix medals and could cause a surprise or two at Baku 2018.
LORINC Renata -70kg
Belgrade European Cup bronze medallist LORINC, 21, will make her World Championships debut in Azerbaijan. The uchi-mata specialist has attended three Grand Prix events and will hope to record a contest win for her country in individual action and in the team event on the eighth and final day of Baku 2018. LORINC is one of a host of new caps for her country in Azerbaijan as the Hungarian Judo Association will be well represented on all eight days of competition.
SALANKI Evelin -78kg
Rome European Open silver medallist SALANKI, 23, has travelled to her third World Championships for Hungary and first on foreign soil since 2015. SALANKI lost out to Ana Laura PORTUONDO ISASI (CAN) by ippon from an uchi-mata in her one and only contest last year. The Hungarian, who sits just outside the world’s top 50 on the ranking list, finished fifth at the Junior World Championships in 2014.
SZIGETVARI Mercedesz +78kg
Heavyweight prospect SZIGETVARI, 20, makes her World Championships debut in Baku. There will be no fear factor for SZIGETVARI as the Hungarian has already medalled on the IJF World Judo Tour after earning a surprise bronze medal at the Tbilisi Grand Prix last year. SZIGETVARI won the Sarajevo European Cup in May with four contest wins by ippon.
KARPATI Emese +78kg
Bratislava European Cup silver medallist KARPATI, 22, has left Hungary for a World Championships for the first time. KARPATI had the luxury of a home Worlds last year and went 1:1 with a win over Sandra JABLONSKYTE (LTU) on penalties and a loss to Tessie SAVELKOULS (NED) by the same manner. Hungary’s young double act at +78kg will be their last participation in the individual competition on day seven with no men’s heavyweight among their ranks this year.
SZABO Csaba -60kg
Belgrade European Cup bronze medallist SZABO, 24, will be the first male judoka from Hungary’s nine-man team to grace the tatami at Baku 2018. SZABO, who has fought at 11 Grand Prix events without placing, is a former u23 European Championships silver medallist and had a solid run at the senior version of the event as he finished seventh. SZABO lost his first contest at the World Championships a year ago courtesy of Elios MANZI (ITA) on penalties.
GORJANACZ Zsolt -66kg
Former Junior World Championships silver medallist GORJANACZ, 28, took silver at the Sofia European Open in February as he won four of his five contests in Bulgaria. GORJANACZ has experience of two World Championships (2010 and 2013) and returns to the stage with the intention of putting together a couple of wins to improve on his 1:1 record from 2013 in Rio de Janeiro. The Hungarian won two contests at home at the Budapest Grand Prix in August by ippon before bowing out by a waza-ari score against Yarin MENAGED (ISR).
UNGVARI Miklos -73kg
Hungarian legend UNGVARI, who turns 38 in October, won his home Grand Prix last time out to become the oldest judoka to win an IJF World Judo Tour event. The crowd favourite won all six contests including an action-packed final over Japanese great EBINUMA Masashi. That feat in itself is astonishing but the former -66kg star was also making his comeback after a year-long lay-off following surgery on his shoulder. London 2012 Olympic silver medallist UNGVARI said: “Judo has made me the man I am today," after his record-breaking win in August.
UNGVARI Attila -81kg
Former World Judo Masters bronze medallist UNGVARI Attila, 29, the younger brother of UNGVARI Miklos, is ready to follow the lead of his sibling and make his own challenge for glory in Baku. Attila will compete a day after his brother and will look to improve on his seventh-place finish from the 2009 Worlds. The four-time Grand Slam medallist will not be seeded and can expect to be contesting one of the largest divisions in the competition.
TOTH Krisztian -90kg
Former world silver medallist TOTH, 24, is a man in form after powering to victory at the Budapest Grand Prix in August. TOTH, who lives and trains in Budapest, won all five contests in the Hungarian capital for an enthralling triumph that was lapped up by the home fans. The stocky -90kg fighter finished fifth at the Worlds a year ago and will be anxious to return to the World Championships podium for the first time since his superb silver medal in 2014.
VER Gabor -90kg
Former Oberwart European Open winner VER, 26, has to go back to 2016 for his latest international medal. The 15-time Grand Prix participant will make his fourth World Championships appearance in Baku and will look to draw inspiration from his teammate TOTH who will campaign on the same day in the same weight category. VER holds victories over three-time Grand Slam medallist Mammadali MEHDIYEV (AZE), world bronze medallist Ushangi MARGIANI (GEO), Olympic silver medallist Travis STEVENS (USA) and two-time Olympic medallist Tiago CAMILO (BRA).
CIRJENICS Miklos -100kg
World Judo Masters bronze medallist CIRJENICS, 28, is one of Hungary’s top performers on the IJF World Judo Tour. The four-time Grand Prix medallist won his first Grand Slam title last year with victory in Abu Dhabi and followed that up with bronze medals at the Tokyo Grand Slam and the exclusive Masters to muscle into the world’s top 10 at -100kg. CIRJENICS, who is without a medal from his seven tournaments this year, will be seeded for Baku 2018.
OHAT Zalan -100kg
Madrid European Open gold medallist OHAT, 22, is part of a -100kg double act for Hungary on the penultimate day of the individual competition. OHAT is still getting to grips with the top level but has shown by his worth with a number of upsets including toppling two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist Joakim DVARBY (SWE) and is still growing into the -100kg category. The young gun won two contests on his Worlds debut a year ago by ippon before coming undone against Kirill DENISOV (RUS) from an uchi-mata.
Sveinbjorn IURA -81kg
Icelandic Championships gold medallist IURA, 29, will make his third start at a World Championships. IURA has a Japanese father and Icelandic mother and regularly visits Japan for training camps which are straightforward logistically as the -81kg judoka speaks fluent Japanese. As the lightest member of Iceland’s two-man team for the Worlds, IURA will be the first to compete and will be bidding for his first contest win at the showpiece event of the IJF World Judo Tour.
Egill BLONDAL -90kg
Welsh Open bronze medallist BLONDAL, 21, won gold at his national championships in May to cement his place in Iceland’s World Championships team for Baku. Koshi-guruma specialist BLONDAL has won most of his medals in the Nordic region but has time on his side as he looks to establish himself on the international stage. The Icelandic talent will believe that he possesses the skills and desire to secure his first contest win on the Worlds stage.
Mohammad MOHAMMADI -73kg
Asian Games bronze medallist MOHAMMADI, 27, could be a surprise package at his second World Championships. MOHAMMADI went 3:1 at the Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, with his only defeating coming against double world bronze medallist AN Changrim (KOR) who went on to take silver. The Iranian ace only stepped up to the -73kg category last year and should not be overlooked as he tiptoes his way towards breaking into the top 10 on the IJF World Ranking List.
Saeid MOLLAEI -81kg
World number one MOLLAEI, 26, won bronze at the World Championships a year ago. A statistic that may surprise many is that MOLLAEI has only won one IJF event on his way to clinching the number one spot in the world. The Iranian star claimed gold at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam in February to add to his existing medal collection which included four Grand Prix bronze medals. The key to his ascension has been consistency and the Iranian has been a rich medal source for his country and once again will be in the medal frame in Baku.
Javad MAHJOUB +100kg
Former Grand Slam winner MAHJOUB, 27, will be a heavyweight hope for Iran on the final day of the individual competition. The 10-time Grand Prix medallist made the move to the +100kg category last year and has won four heavyweight medals on the Grand Prix stage since November. MAHJOUB is light and athletic for the category and could realistically beat any of the heavyweights registered for Baku 2018.
Mohammed ALSULTANI -60kg
Former Cadet African Cup gold medallist ALSULTANI, 19, makes his IJF World Judo Tour bow in Baku. The teenager won all three of his contests by ippon at the aforementioned youth event but that was back in 2015 in the -66kg category. ALSULTANI has not fought internationally since then so it remains to be seen what progress he has made and how he shapes up against senior opposition.
Ahmed ALLAMI -60kg
ALLAMI, 22, has no experience of the IJF World Judo Tour and limited exposure to international competition but will not let that dampen his enthusiasm when he gets to walk out at a World Championships for Iraq for the first time. ALLAMI took part in the Asian Championships back in 2016 where he lost his opening contest and in the same year finished fifth at the Junior African Cup in Tunisia.
Mohammed ALSAEDI -66kg
World Championships newcomer ALSAEDI, 23, is fully acclimatised with the IJF World Judo Tour after featuring at five Grand Prix and two Grand Slam events. ALSAEDI won his opening contest at the Asian Games in August against Nam PHAN VU (VIE) by a waza-ari score before losing to Artur TE (KGZ) by the same manner as the Kyrgyzstan judoka went on to win bronze. The experienced Iraqi judoka holds wins over Asian Games bronze medallist Mohammad MOHAMMADI (IRI) and two-time Olympian Raymond OVINOU (PNG).
Sajjad SEHEN -73kg
Former Junior Asian Championships bronze medallist SEHEN, 22, is familiar with the IJF stage after an induction in 2014 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and Tokyo Grand Slam. SEHEN was part of his country’s Asian Games team in Jakarta and had a brief experience of the competition as he lost his first contest against KIM Chol Gwang (PRK) by ippon.
Shihab ALQURAISHI -90kg
Three-time IJF World Judo Tour competitor ALQURAISHI, 22, will attempt to win a contest at the World Championships and cap his first experience of the sport’s flagship event with a respectable display. ALQURAISHI has fought at the Tokyo Grand Slam (2014), Samsun Grand Prix (2015) and Antalya Grand Prix (2018) and lost his first contest at each event by ippon. The Worlds tyro will revert to his o-goshi as his contingency plan if he is struggling to assert himself in Azerbaijan.
Ali ALZAIDI -100kg
Former Junior African Open bronze medallist ALZAIDI, 22, will be the final athlete from Iraq to go for glory for in Baku. The vastly inexperienced ALZAIDI has no international competitions on his record before or after his medal win in Tunisia and would be forgiven for having a few nerves before being pitted against an elite -100kg judoka in the most substantial challenge of his career but one that every judoka dreams of fulfilling.
Megan FLETCHER -70kg
World number 36 FLETCHER, 29, switched from Great Britain to represent her mother’s homeland of Ireland last year along with her young brother Ben. Megan has recorded two seventh-place finishes at Grand Prix events for Ireland and is in a good position to mount a major push for Tokyo 2020 qualification at an interesting time for the sport in her country.
Nathon Burns -66kg
Shadsworth Judo Club product BURNS, 29, recently moved back home to Lancashire after a decade in the south of England at Camberley Judo Club. A noted coffee connoisseur and fanatic rower, BURNS also moved from Great Britain to Ireland last year and finished seventh at the Budapest Grand Prix in August as he edges ever closer to opening his IJF World Judo Tour medal account.
Shira RISHONY -48kg
Two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist RISHONY, 27, will hope that it’s third time lucky at the World Championships as she pursues major honours in Baku. RISHONY is no stranger to an IJF podium after winning six Grand Prix medals in addition to her Grand Slam accolades but has found the Worlds an all-together more difficult stage to navigate. The -48kg judoka will look to best her round third elimination from 2017.
Noa MINSKER -48kg
Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist MINSKER, 25, finished seventh at the World Championships last year and is line to mount a medal challenge in Baku. The three-time Grand Prix medallist went 2:2 at Budapest 2017 and could produce a similar performance in Azerbaijan despite a recent dip in form. MINSKER last medalled on the IJF World Judo Tour in April 2017 with bronze at the Antalya Grand Prix.
Betina TEMELKOVA -52kg
Tashkent Grand Prix gold medallist TEMELKOVA, 21, is new to the World Championships stage. TEMELKOVA, who has Bulgarian roots, unexpectedly made her mark on the IJF World Judo Tour last year with victory in Uzbekistan after four consecutive contest wins without conceding a single score. TEMELKOVA has made a productive start to her Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification campaign by attaining a seventh-place finish at the Hohhot Grand Prix and a fifth-place finish at the Zagreb Grand Prix last time out.
Gefen PRIMO -52kg
European Championships bronze medallist PRIMO, 18, stunned the European elite in April with a sensational podium at her first senior continental championships. The Israeli starlet has already opened her IJF account thanks to a bronze medal at the Agadir Grand Prix in March and is richly-deserving of her first Worlds berth at this early stage of her career.
Timna NELSON LEVY -57kg
Agadir Grand Prix gold medallist NELSON LEVY, 24, makes her World Championships bow in Azerbaijan. NELSON LEVY was on the podium in Baku last year with bronze at the country’s Grand Slam event and could offer a similar threat on the biggest stage of her career as she plots her road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The four-time Grand Prix medallist will be one to the top seeds in the -57kg category.
Gili SHARIR -63kg
Hohhot Grand Prix silver medallist SHARIR, 18, is another talented youngster in the Israeli ranks. SHARIR finished seventh at the European Championships in April before opening her Tokyo 2020 qualification bid with her first IJF World Judo Tour medal. The teen will compete in the -63kg category as Israel could well have found a long-term replacement to recently retired former world champion Yarden GERBI (ISR).
Tal FLICKER -66kg
World bronze medallist FLICKER, 26, has won four gold medals on the IJF World Judo Tour and will fancy his chances of a fifth when he ties up his belt in Baku. The two-time Grand Prix and double Grand Slam winner posted a 5:1 record at Budapest a year ago and comes into the event in form after scooping a bronze medal at the continental championships and gold at the Zagreb Grand Prix to ensure that he starts as the world number one at the second World Championships in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle.
Baruch SHMAILOV -66kg
Israel are blessed with having two world-class operators at -66kg as SHMAILOV, 24, will reinforce their offering on day two. Ippon-seoi-nage specialist SHMAILOV is a two-time Grand Slam medallist and four-time Grand Prix medallist and his next logical target is a World Championships podium. The World Judo Masters bronze medallist will be seeded in Baku as he’s well established inside the world’s top eight at -66kg.
Tohar BUTBUL -73kg
Three-time Grand Slam bronze medallist BUTBUL, 24, will be tasked with mounting a medal push for Israeli at -73kg. BUTBUL, who is his country’s lone representative in the weight category in Azerbaijan, has started his season well with bronze medals at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam and the Zagreb Grand Prix. The Tokyo 2020 hope, who is particularly proficient with a modified kata-guruma, was eliminated in round four at the Worlds 12 months ago.
Sagi MUKI -81kg
European champion MUKI, 26, could lead the way for his country among their talent-rich men’s team. MUKI, who made the move from -73kg to -81kg after Rio 2016, has won Grand Prix and Grand Slam gold and finished fifth at the Olympics. The world number 14 finished seventh at his last Worlds in 2015 and will be expected to improve on that return in the land of fire.
Li KOCHMAN -90kg
Three-time Grand Prix medallist KOCHMAN, 23, competes on the World Championships stage for the second time. The ippon-seoi-nage expert has become an integral member of his team who now boast a deep roster in almost every weight category. KOCHMAN won bronze at the Tbilisi Grand Prix in March and will hope for a long and productive competition day in Baku.
Peter PALTCHIK -100kg
European Championships bronze medallist PALTCHIK, 26, has transformed his career in the post-Olympic period. PALTCHIK won the Cancun Grand Prix last year and took bronze at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam to announce his arrival on the IJF World Judo Tour. The former -90kg judoka has powered into the world’s top eight on the IJF World Ranking List this year with gold at the Tbilisi Grand Prix, bronze at the continental championships and bronze at the Budapest Grand Prix.
Or SASSON +100kg
Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist SASSON, 28, is one of the world’s most polished heavyweights and has the best opportunity of his career to walk away from a World Championships with a medal. The two-time Grand Prix gold medallist is highly-mobile and athletic as a former -100kg fighter and at 6 ft 4 in matches up well with any heavyweight in the world. SASSON is also known for his activities off the mat including auctioning his Olympic judogi for $100,000 for an Israeli organisation for children with disabilities and as a speaker including a well-received TED talk about his inspirational career.
Francesca MILANI -48kg
Rome European Open bronze medallist MILANI, 24, has two fifth-place finishes to her name on the Grand Prix stage. MILANI lost out on her Worlds debut a year ago in her first contest against Otgontsetseg GALBADRAKH (KAZ) on penalties as the Kazakh went on to win bronze. The lightest member of Italy’s Worlds team finished fifth at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July with a record of 3:2 as she fell to familiar rival GALBADRAKH for bronze.
Odette GIUFFRIDA -52kg
Olympic silver medallist GIUFFRIDA, 23, is one of her country’s finest judoka. The Italian has medalled at every competition level in the sport except for a Worlds and will be looking to put that right in Baku. GIUFFRIDA returned to competition in June after a lengthy injury lay-off and is still early in her comeback but deserves praise for electing to make the bold decision of fighting at the biggest event of the year in only her third competition in 12 months.
Edwige GWEND -63kg
Nine-time Grand Prix medallist GWEND, 28, finished fifth at the World Championships in 2014 and will be eager to make her presence felt in Baku. The two-time Olympian is a veteran of six World Championships and knows the challenge in front of her. GWEND has won bronze medals at the Rome European Open and the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam in 2018.
Carola PAISSONI -70kg
Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist PAISSONI, 24, will be a new name to many judo fans as the Italian makes her Worlds debut in Azerbaijan. PAISSONI opened her IJF World Judo Tour medal account in March in Georgia to illustrate her quality and potential and has been drafted in to complete Italy’s talented female team. The Turin judoka will be the fourth and final female judoka to battle from her team and will be determined to match the achievements of her more established colleagues.
Andrea CARLINO -60kg
Madrid European Open bronze medallist CARLINO, 21, makes his World Championships debut on day one in Baku. CARLINO made a notable IJF World Judo Tour debut in July as he finished fifth at the Zagreb Grand Prix with a 3:2 record that included a win over former world silver medallist Rustam IBRAYEV (KAZ) and defeats to world champion TAKATO Naohisa (JPN) and Ashley MCKENZIE (GBR).
Matteo MEDVES -66kg
Rome-based MEDVES, 24, established himself with a breakout performance at the European Championships this year. MEDVES, who comes from a strong judo family including his dad who is a coach and his younger sister Giada MEDVES who is a member of the national team, went 4:1 at the continental championships with a stunning run of victories. The 2017 Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist will be unseeded on his Worlds debut and could trouble the -66kg elite on day two.
Fabio BASILE -73kg
Olympic champion BASILE, 23, will compete at the Worlds at -73kg for the first time and will be eying up top spot in Baku. Following his mesmerising display at Rio 2016 BASILE danced with stars on domestic television and had more magazine coverage than any other Italian athlete but is now back to gracefully moving his feet on the tatami and sharing his art with the world. BASILE has not changed since his Olympic win – he still loves his grandmother’s cooking and giving back to the sport, such as when he was refereeing an impromptu children’s session while waiting to weigh-in at the Zagreb Grand Prix.
Antonio ESPOSITO -81kg
European Championships bronze medallist ESPOSITO, 23, could be a match for anyone in the -81kg category in Baku. ESPOSITO, who was crowned Italy’s first Junior World Championships gold medallist in 2013, has slowly but surely been gaining momentum on the IJF World Judo Tour. The former -73kg judoka finished fifth at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam this year ahead of a fine bronze medal at the continental championships. The proud world number 21 finished fifth last time out at the Zagreb Grand Prix as he left the mat in tears but will be hoping for tears of joy in Baku.
Nicholas MUNGAI -90kg
Ekaterinburg Grand Slam bronze medallist MUNGAI, 25, makes his World Championships debut in Baku. The heaviest member of Italy’s nine-strong team for Azerbaijan has won Grand Prix and Grand Slam honours but will meet a new level of opponents in a category that is rich with new talent and established champions. MUNGAI holds victories over Magomed MAGOMEDOV (RUS), Dilshod CHORIEV (UZB) and Mammadali MEHDIYEV (AZE) among others and will be severely tested with world-class judoka lining up in each round.
Ivory Coast (CIV)
Salimata FOFANA -52kg
Former Junior African Championships gold medallist FOFANA, 21, steps up to the senior stage for her first World Championships in Baku. The Ivory Coast hope finished seventh at the African Championships this year and has only appeared at two IJF events. FOFANA fought at Grand Prix in Agadir and Budapest in 2018 and won contests at each event by ippon before bowing out in the second round.
Zouleiha Abzetta DABONNE -57kg
Three-time African Championships bronze medallist DABONNE, 25, will be gracing her fourth World Championships in the Baku blockbuster. The Rio 2016 Olympian also has experience of four Grand Prix and seven Grand Slam events and will no doubt look to her ouchi-gari to aid her bid to progress beyond the first round. DABONNE finished fifth at the African Championships in April.
Koffi Kreme KOBENA -100kg
Former African Championships bronze medallist KOBENA, 30, is a University lecturer in his homeland. KOBENA has put his teaching career on hold to pursue his dream of competing at an Olympic Games. The uchi-mata specialist is now based at the IJF Training Centre in Dunavarsány, Hungary and has been highly-active on the competition circuit this year. KOBENA finished fifth at the Oberwart European Open and his continental championships either side of a seventh-place finish at the Agadir Grand Prix to make an encouraging start his Tokyo 2020 quest.
TONAKI Funa -48kg
World champion TONAKI, 23, won the world title at her first attempt a year ago and will now be able to declare that it's even harder to hold onto it with her red backpatch making her the judoka to beat on day one in Baku. TONAKI, who is locked in a battle for the one Tokyo 2020 spot with teammate KONDO Ami, finished fifth at the Paris Grand Slam in February and took bronze at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July. The main rival for the Japanese star will be teen prodigy Daria BILODID (UKR) who has beaten TONAKI twice this year.
SHISHIME Ai -52kg
World champion SHISHIME, 24, will start day two wearing her red backpatch but has a herculean assignment in front of her to retain in in Baku. SHISHIME has been on the podium in all three of her competitions since her Budapest 2017 win with bronze at the Tokyo Grand Slam and gold medals at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam and Zagreb Grand Prix. SHISHIME can expect opposition from a host of contenders including Russian, French and Brazilian opposition but especially her young teammate ABE Uta.
ABE Uta -52kg
Junior World Championships gold medallist ABE, 18, starts as the favourite for -52kg gold on her senior Worlds debut. The Paris Grand Slam winner, who will compete on same day as her older brother and defending -66kg world champion ABE Hifumi, is unbeaten on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2016 in a staggering run which has seen her win five successive competitions and her last 24 contests. ABE won the Hohhot Grand Prix last time out in May with all five of her contest wins coming by way of ippon.
YOSHIDA Tsukasa -57kg
World silver medallist YOSHIDA, 22, finished second at her first World Championships after an absorbing final with DORJSUREN Sumiya (MGL) which required nine minutes of golden score following a four minute stalemate in regulation time. YOSHIDA won the Tokyo Grand Slam in December before falling to DORJSUREN in the World Judo Masters final two weeks later. The six-time Grand Slam gold medallist took silver at the Paris Grand Slam this year after being humbled by former teammate Christa DEGUCHI (CAN) in the final.
TASHIRO Miku -63kg
Two-time World Championships bronze medallist TASHIRO, 24, is back in her country’s fold for the top event of the season after being overlooked a year ago. TASHIRO responded to her Budapest 2017 omission by winning the Tokyo Grand Slam in December and the World Judo Masters shortly after. The world number four took silver at the Paris Grand Slam this year after losing out to defending world champion Clarisse AGBEGNENOU (FRA).
ARAI Chizuru -70kg
World champion ARAI, 24, has not won a gold medal on the IJF World Judo Tour since Budapest 2017 but has reached two finals. ARAI, who is the natural successor to retired Rio 2016 Olympic champion TACHIMOTO Haruka, took silver medals at Grand Slam events in Tokyo and Paris and picked up bronze at the Hohhot Grand Prix in May. The four-time Grand Slam winner will be seeded in Baku.
ONO Yoko -70kg
Tokyo Grand Slam winner ONO, 28, makes her World Championships debut in Azerbaijan and is a front-runner for -70kg gold. ONO beat world champion ARAI in the final in Tokyo and won all four of her contests at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam to earn her place in Japan’s 18-strong team for Baku 2018. The two-time Asian Championships winner took silver at the Zagreb Grand Prix and could feature her country in the mixed team competition.
HAMADA Shori -78kg
Tokyo Grand Slam gold medallist HAMADA, 27, makes her World Championships bow in Baku. The uchi-mata expert took bronze in Paris this year and finished fifth at the Zagreb Grand Prix. HAMADA has to perform having been handed her Worlds debut at a crucial time on the road to Tokyo 2020 and in a category where Japan no longer have a clear number one. The Japanese fighter submitted world champion Mayra AGUIAR (BRA) in July with an okuri-eri-jime strangle and will be aiming for more of the same on day six at Baku 2018.
ASAHINA Sarah +78kg
Openweight World Championships gold medallist ASAHINA, 21, took silver at Budapest 2017 year ago after a narrow defeat on penalties against YU Song (CHN). ASAHINA then won the revived Openweight event to capture her first world title and to earn the right to wear a gold backpatch. The Kodokan starlet won gold at the Tokyo Grand Slam and Düsseldorf Grand Slam in addition to bronze at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July.
TAKATO Naohisa -60kg
Two-time and reigning world champion TAKATO, 25, will kick-off Japan’s all-star ensemble in Baku on day one. The Tokai University judoka has won his last six events and is undefeated outside Japan since 2016. Olympic bronze medallist TAKATO has won 29 consecutive contests and even tried his hand at the All Japan Openweight Championships in April.
NAGAYAMA Ryuju -60kg
Three-time Grand Slam gold medallist NAGAYAMA, 22, makes his second bid for World Championships glory. NAGAYAMA went 2:1 on his Worlds debut a year ago but has since won three successive events. The Tokai University youngster won the World Judo Masters to close out 2017 and has starred at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam and Budapest Grand Prix this year.
ABE Hifumi -66kg
World champion ABE, 21, was undefeated from 2015 to the summer of 2018 as he won seven competitions in a row to become one of the new faces of the sport on the road to Tokyo 2020. The six-time Grand Slam winner suffered a shock defeat at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July – to end his 34-fight winning-streak - but returned to winning ways to win bronze in Croatia and remains a heavy favourite on day two to retain his -66kg title.
HASHIMOTO Soichi -73kg
World champion HASHIMOTO, 27, will be his country’s only representative in the -73kg category in Baku. HASHIMOTO won all six of his contests a year ago to seal his maiden world crown and has been tipped to hold onto his title in Baku. The three-time Grand Slam winner, who also took part in the All Japan Openweight competition this year, has only fought once on the IJF World Judo Tour in 2018 as he took silver behind AN Changrim (KOR) at the Hohhot Grand Prix.
FUJIWARA Sotaro -81kg
Paris Grand Slam gold medallist FUJIWARA, 20, is one of the youngest members of the Japanese team. The Worlds debutant won back-to-back Grand Slam events in February (France) and March (Russia) to raise his hand for selection and won bronze at the Zagreb Grand Prix. FUJIWARA has thrust himself into medal contention on the strength of his performances this year and will expecting a long and successful competition day in Baku.
NAGASAWA Kenta -90kg
Tokyo Grand Slam gold medallist NAGASAWA, 24, makes his first appearance at the World Championships. NAGASAWA took bronze at the World Judo Masters in December and finished fifth at the Paris Grand Slam year. The -90kg standout featured for his country in the mixed team competition a year ago as Japan routed Brazil in the final. This time around NAGASAWA will be chasing two gold medals.
WOLF Aaron -100kg
World champion WOLF, 22, made a triumphant return in August in his first competition back since winning Budapest 2017. The Tokai University man returned from a knee injury by winning gold at the Budapest Grand Prix last month. WOLF comfortably won all five of his contests and showed no signs of his lengthy spell on the sidelines. Due to his absence from the circuit WOLF will not be seeded but remains a slight favourite in a highly-competitive division.
OGAWA Yusei +100kg
Tokyo Grand Slam gold medallist OGAWA, 22, is the son of four-time world champion and 1992 Olympic silver medallist OGAWA Naoya. The Worlds debutant defeated Olympic champion Lukas KRPALEK in a 14-minute final in Japan to record the biggest win of his career. While his father will be in the venue working for Japanese television, the former Junior World Championships bronze medallist will be focused on making the most of the greatest opportunity of his young career and one that if he seizes will put him in pole position for Tokyo 2020.
HARASAWA Hisayoshi +100kg
Olympic silver medallist HARASAWA, 26, was stunned by Austrian youngster Stephan HEGYI in his first contest at the World Championships a year ago as he went out on penalties. Four-time Grand Slam gold medallist HARASAWA took silver at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam this year and won the All Japan Openweight title to claim superiority over his domestic rivals. HARASAWA has to medal this year to banish his memories of Budapest 2017 and redeem himself but will not be seeded.
Hadeel ELALMI -57kg
World Championships debutant ELALMI, 18, will compete on the IJF World Judo Tour for the first time. The little-known teenager has previously fought at the Asian Championships, Junior World Championships, Cadet Asian Championships and a Cadet Asian Cup. ELALMI has not recorded on a contest win in those outings but has built an impressive amount of experience for someone with her tender years and has to enhance her skillset to upgrade her results.
Eyal Salman YOUNIS -73kg
One-time World Championships competitor YOUNIS, 25, is one of the most experienced international judoka from Jordan. YOUNIS has featured for his country at Grand Prix, Grand Slam, Asian Championships, Asian Games and added the Worlds to that list a year ago. The -73kg talent has recorded two contest wins on the IJF World Judo Tour this year as he bested Christopher WAGNER (AUT) with a sumi-otoshi and Olympian Emmanuel NARTEY (GHA) with a front uchi-mata.
Baker ALZIDANEEN -81kg
Two-time World Championships participant ALZIDANEEN, 30, will hope to make it third time lucky as he seeks a first contest win at the eight-day judo spectacular. ALZIDANEEN made his Worlds debut in 2009 in Rotterdam and had to wait until 2017 to return to the premier event of the IJF World Judo Tour. The osoto-gari enthusiast was in action at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July where he lost out to MAJDOV Stefan (SRB) on penalties.
Otgontsetseg GALBADRAKH -48kg
Olympic and world bronze medallist GALBADRAKH, 26, is one of the favourites for -48kg gold on day one. Former Mongolian international GALBADRAKH won bronze at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July and the same colour medal at the Asian Games at the end of August. While Japanese and Ukrainian judoka may dominate the -48kg discussions before Baku, GALBADRAKH could write her own headlines and make a dream start for Kazakhstan.
Sevara NISHANBAYEVA -57kg
Three-time Grand Prix bronze medallist NISHANBAYEVA, 25, makes her third appearance at a World Championships for Kazakhstan. The seoi-otoshi devotee has progressed to the second round in 2014 and 2017 and will battling to go deeper in the competition this year. NISHANBAYEVA finished fifth at the Asian Games in August and picked up her Grand Prix honours in 2013, 2016 and 2017.
Akniyet TURDAN -63kg
Worlds debutant TURDAN, 20, joins the most important judo event of the year for the first time in her young career. TURDAN fought at the junior version of the event last year where she lost out to Mariya TAKAHASHI (PHI) from a sasae-tsurikomi-ashi. The Kazakh rookie has not won a contest outside of Asia but will be craving her trip to Baku and being part of a team featuring Olympic and world medallists.
Aelita CHSHERBAKOVA -70kg
Former Tashkent Grand Prix bronze medallist CHSHERBAKOVA, 23, makes her Worlds debut in Baku. CHSHERBAKOVA has defeated standouts in the category such as GERCSAK Szabina (HUN) from a kuzure-kesa-gatame hold at the Zagreb Grand Prix in July. The Kazakh judoka is ranked just shy of the world’s top 50 at -70kg and could be called upon by her country for the team event on day eight.
Azhar SALYKOVA -70kg
Former Junior Asian Championships silver medallist SALYKOVA, 22, features for the first time for her country at a World Championships. SALYKOVA has been introduced to life on the IJF World Judo Tour by fighting at two Grand Prix events (Almaty 2016 and Tbilisi 2018) and can expect an altogether different level of opposition in Azerbaijan where she will give her all for her Kazakhstan with the aim of returning next year with a better ranking and a more compelte resume.
Zarina RAIFOVA -78kg
Two-time Grand Prix bronze medallist RAIFOVA, 27, returns to the World Championships in Baku. RAIFOVA saw action at Chelyabinsk 2014 and Budapest 2017 and opened her win column on the Worlds stage a year ago by beating Jacqueline USNAYO (CHI) with an uchi-mata. The competent Kazakh fighter has been in medal contention this year with a seventh-place finish at the Antalya Grand Prix and a fifth-place finish at the Asian Games.
Gulzhan ISSANOVA +78kg
Kazakh stalwart ISSANOVA, 34, is one of the most accomplished female judoka of all time in her country. ISSANOVA has guts and guile in abundance and has won Grand Prix, Grand Slam, World Judo Masters and Asian Championships medals in the heavyweight category. The three-time Grand Prix winner finished seventh at the London 2012 Olympics and arrives in Baku following a hard-fought bronze medal at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Kamila BERLIKASH +78kg
Former Junior Asian Championships gold medallist BERLIKASH, 18, has placed at her last 12 events. Tokyo 2020 hope BERLIKASH finished fifth at the Junior World Championships a year and has been fast-tracked into Kazakhstan’s senior setup despite still being a junior. The teenager finished fifth at the Antalya Grand Prix in April and will be aiming to continue her run of bright performances at Baku 2018.
Gusman KYRGYZBAYEV -60kg
Two-time Grand Prix gold medallist KYRGYZBAYEV, 25, finished seventh at the World Championships last year and will offer an even greater threat after 12 months of seasoning on the IJF World Judo Tour. KYRGYZBAYEV has stood out this year with bronze at the Tunis Grand Prix, gold at the Agadir Grand Prix and silver at the Hohhot Grand Prix to propel himself into the world’s top eight and a seeded spot for Baku 2018.
Yerlan SERIKZHANOV -66kg
Agadir Grand Prix silver medallist SERIKZHANOV, 23, is a new member of Kazakhstan’s well-stocked World Championships delegation. SERIKZHANOV started his year with bronze at the Tunis Grand Prix after he went 4:1 in Tunisia before reaching his first IJF World Judo Tour final in Morocco. The Kazakh was second best against Adrian GOMBOC (SLO) in the final as he lost by a waza-ari from a sumi-gaeshi but earned vital points towards the World Ranking List and continued his upward trajectory towards securing bigger medals.
Zhansay SMAGULOV -73kg
Kazakh star SMAGULOV, 25, is a seven-time Grand Prix medallist. The Rio 2016 Olympian is a specialist in tai-otoshi and in Grand Prix events with all his IJF medals coming at this level. SMAGULOV, who defeated three-time world champion and -73kg newcomer EBINUMA Masashi (JPN) in March, has not been able to reproduce his sparkling Grand Prix form at a Grand Slam event or at a World Championships and that will be his assignment at Baku 2018.
Bekadil SHAIMERDENOV -73kg
World Championships newcomer SHAIMERDENOV, 21, announced his arrival on the IJF World Judo Tour by winning bronze at the Agadir Grand Prix this year. SHAIMERDENOV defeated Ahmed EL MEZIATI (MAR) for bronze in Morocco and has gained more top-flight experience by competing at Grand Prix in Hohhot and Antalya where he only lost to double world medallist AN Changrim (KOR) and world champion HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) respectively.
Didar KHAMZA -81kg
Junior World Championships bronze medallist KHAMZA, 21, is one of the most exciting judoka among Kazakhstan’s ranks in Baku. The former Almaty Grand Prix bronze medallist was the shock winner of the Asian Games in August as he defeated OTGONBAATAR Uuganbaatar (MGL), Hohhot Grand Prix winner SASAKI Takeshi (JPN) and world number one Saeid MOLLAEI (IRI) in consecutive contests and all by ippon. KHAMZA has star quality and could have a big impact on his Worlds debut.
Aziz KALKAMANULY -81kg
Three-time Grand Prix bronze medallist KALKAMANULY, 25, makes his third tilt for world honours in Baku. The Kazakh lost out to former world champion NAGASE Takanori (JPN) a year ago as he was overpowered on the ground with a kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame hold. KALKAMANULY won his Grand Prix medals in 2014, 2015 and 2017 and has suffered a dip in form this year.
Islam BOZBAYEV -90kg
Two-time Grand Prix winner BOZBAYEV, 27, has already campaigned at five World Championships but will hope do finally do himself justice with a stellar showing at Baku 2018. The three-time Grand Slam medallist has never placed at a World Championships but has defeated world-renowned judoka on his travels. BOZBAYEV has wins over former world silver medallist TOTH Krisztian (HUN) and former world champion GWAK Donghan (KOR) and finished fifth in his competition while on duty for Kazakhstan at the Asian Games.
Viktor DEMYANENKO -100kg
Two-time Grand Prix bronze medallist DEMYANENKO, 27, makes his inaugural appearance at a World Championships. DEMYANENKO won bronze at the Tunis Grand Prix at the start of the year and took fifth at the Agadir Grand Prix two months later. The Kazakh fighter finished seventh at the Asian Games in August and will be confident of getting a contest win under his belt on the biggest stage of his career.
Yerassyl KAZHYBAYEV +100kg
World Championships tyro KAZHYBAYEV, 24, will make only his second IJF World Judo Tour start when he enters the arena on day seven. KAZHYBAYEV joined the circuit this summer at the Hohhot Grand Prix where he threw home judoka QIU Shangao (CHN) with an uchi-mata for ippon before being disqualified in round two against Javad MAHJOUB (IRI) after picking up three penalties. The heavyweight will be the last male judoka to compete for Kazakhstan and will be going all out for his country with nothing to lose from his ranking of number 121 in the world.
Distria KRASNIQI -48kg
Kosovo star KRASNIQI, 22, will compete for her country on day one which is significant news. KRASNIQI has often switched between the -48kg and -52kg categories knowing that while at -52kg she will always be the number two behind Olympic champion Majlinda KELMENDI (KOS) and that -48kg presents the challenge of making weight and still retaining her strength. The former Junior World Championships winner is now making one more attempt at -48kg as she plots a road to Tokyo 2020. The signs are good as KRASNIQI won bronze at the Budapest Grand Prix in August on her return to the lightest women’s division and will be a danger to all judoka in the category from her unseeded position.
Nora GJAKOVA -57kg
Four-time Grand Prix gold medallist GJAKOVA, 26, has been tipped to open her World Championships medal account in Baku. GJAKOVA won the European title in April and has won Grand Prix events in Tunis and Antalya this year. The Kosovo ace finished seventh at the Worlds in 2013 but is far different now and a more difficult proposition in 2018 and has glory in her sights with a seeded position providing a platform to add to the storied judo accomplishments of her country.
Loriana KUKA -78kg
Antalya Grand Prix gold medallist KUKA, 21, is the latest starlet to be unveiled by Kosovo. KUKA is part of country’s famous KUKA judo family that includes coach Driton TONI KUKA and Kosovo Judo Federation President Agron KUKA and was born in Kosovo and grew up in Switzerland. Loriana fought for Switzerland from 2014 to 2016 and made the logical switch to represent her homeland last year and it’s paid dividends for the highly-talented uchi-mata specialist.
Akil GJAKOVA -73kg
Paris Grand Slam gold medallist GJAKOVA, 22, has emerged from the mighty shadow cast by his all-conquering female counterparts by making history for his country this year. GJAKOVA, who is the brother of Nora GJAKOVA, became the first male judoka from Kosovo to win an IJF World Judo Tour gold medal when he won in Paris in February. The Kosovo judoka ripped up the record books in his next IJF outing by winning gold at the Zagreb Grand Prix and can now count himself in the world’s top eight judoka in time for a seeded start in Baku.
Otar BESTAEV -60kg
Two-time Grand Prix medallist BESTAEV, 26, once of Russia, has been part of the Kyrgyzstan setup since 2015. BESTAEV participates at his third World Championships in Baku after fruitless trips in 2015 and 2017. The Rio 2016 Olympian last graced an IJF podium in 2016 with silver at the Budapest Grand Prix to add to his bronze medal from the 2015 Tashkent Grand Prix.
Baiaman SAGYNBAI UULU -60kg
Former Cadet Asian Championships gold medallist SAGYNBAI UULU, 20, finished seventh at the Baku Grand Slam last year and at the Antalya Grand Prix. World Championships first-timer SAGYNBAI UULU has only fought in junior events in 2018 with a bronze at the Junior Asian Cup being his best return. The inexperienced -60kg judoka sprung a surprise last year when he beat former world silver medallist Rustam IBRAYEV (KAZ) by ippon with a uki-otoshi.
Artur TE -66kg
Asian Games bronze medallist TE, 25, has been active on the IJF World Judo Tour since 2014 and travelled to his first World Championships a year ago. TE finished fifth at the Tashkent Grand Prix last year with a 2:2 record and has toured far and wide with his country in search of an elusive first IJF medal. The world number 42 put a run of wins together at the Asian Games in August with wins over Iraqi, Mongolian and Uzbek opposition as he only lost out to MARUYAMA Joshiro (JPN) who went on to take silver.
Bektur RYSMAMBETOV -66kg
Former Antalya Grand Prix silver medallist RYSMAMBETOV, 26, will test his skillset at the World Championships for the third time. RYSMAMBETOV was eliminated in round one in 2015 and 2017 and will be hoping to finally register a contest in the W column in Baku. The Kyrgyzstan judoka has fought at -73kg in his last eight competitions including when he finished fifth at the Asian Games but steps back down to -66kg for Baku 2018.
Ishen AMANOV -73kg
Kyrgyzstan national junior championships silver medallist AMANOV, 19, has been called up to a World Championships for the first time. AMANOV has fought at -81kg at his last three events but has been entered at -73kg for Baku. The teenager finished fifth at the Junior Asian Championships in 2017 and 2018 and is highly-regarded by his coaching team. AMANOV has picked up a contest win on the IJF World Judo Tour at the expense of Lasha LOMIDZE (RUS) by ippon from an uchi-mata at the Antalya Grand Prix.
Vladimir ZOLOEV -81kg
Asian Games bronze medallist ZOLOEV, 25, has been a first team member for ZOLOEV since 2015. The ippon-seoi-nage expert, who won bronze for Russia at the Junior World Championships in 2010, has one IJF medal to his name from the 2016 Almaty Grand Prix (bronze). ZOLOEV shocked Hohhot Grand Prix gold medallist SASAKI Takeshi (JPN) by ippon to win bronze at the Asian Games in August and will looking to take more scalps in Baku.
Faruh BULEKULOV -90kg
Former German international BULEKULOV, 29, can count the 2013 London Europen Cup among his titles. BULEKULOV has been active on the IJF World Judo Tour this year with appearances in the -90kg and -100kg categories but it’s the lighter division where the veteran will ply his trade in Baku. The world number 101 holds wins over Rio 2016 Olympian Colton BROWN (USA) and will be competing his second World Championships in a row.
Iurii KRAKOVETSKII +100kg
Five-time Grand Prix medallist KRAKOVETSKII, 26, is the most well-known member of the Kyrgyzstan team. Two-time Olympian KRAKOVETSKII finished seventh at the Rio 2016 Olympics as he won two contests and lost two. The hulking heavyweight has also finished seventh at the World Championships (2014) and will feel that he can be in contention this year after some competitive displays on the circuit in 2018 such as a fifth-place at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam.
Bekbolot TOKTOGONOV +100kg
Düsseldorf Grand Slam bronze medallist TOKTOGONOV, 27, only debuted on the IJF World Judo Tour in February but has made a promising start to judo’s elite competition circuit. TOKTOGONOV is already up to 33rd place in the world after starting with a 4:1 winning record in Germany and following up with a fifth-place at the Antalya Grand Prix. The World Championships newcomer finished seventh at Asian Games in August and will come in under the radar in Baku.
*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.