It’s apt that at the top of the participant ranking for the 2024 Dushanbe Grand Slam is Temur Rakhimov, a Tajik sporting hero who has been among the best in the world at +100 kg for several years. Currently seeded first at home, he will be looking to improve on his silver medal, won at the inaugural Dushanbe World Judo Tour event, last year.
Temur Rakhimov (TJK) at the Dushanbe Grand Prix 2023.

Also coming in as a top seed is Jessica Klimkait (CAN). She’s number two in the world, behind her compatriot, but chose to not contest the continental title and instead appears in Dushanbe and is also registered for the worlds in 3 weeks time. Klimkait has been world champion and she medalled at the `Tokyo Games in 2021, beating deguchi to selection. That Olympic bronze medal, though, was won after Klimkait lost the semi-final to Sarah-Leonie Cysique (FRA), who already has her second Olympic selection and will be competing on home soil in Paris this summer. Klimkait and Cysique could be destined to meet again but in the final in Dushanbe, a result that appears to be far more important to the Canadian as her selection is hanging in the balance for Paris.

Klimkait (CAN) and Cysique (FRA) on the Olympic podium in Tokyo.

Anna-Maria Wagner (GER) leads the -78 kg category straight off her silver-medal-winning performance at the European Championships last week. In a stunning final between her and category veteran Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA), the German may have expected the win but the result doesn’t knock her out of contention for the Games as she is far enough ahead, and with excellent recent form, that only something catastrophic could dethrone her. Wagner continues to compete regularly, showing technique, strength and also grit, bouncing between them as and when necessary. She’s among the most consistent judoka on the circuit and she will be wanting to win in Dushanbe.

Gold at the 2024 Paris Grand Slam for Wagner (GER).

Wagner’s challenge, although not as dense is in recent events, will still be considerable. The number two seed is her domestic rival Alina Boehm. The two Brits are seeded 4th and 5th, putting them on the same side of the draw while the two Croatians are 9th and 11th on the entry list. With so many domestic battles to be played out, all contests at -78 kg will be important, possibly decisive for the Games; one person’s rival possibly becoming someone else’s hero.

The 4th highest ranked judoka of the event is Teddy Riner but he is a real super power, a name known well beyond the confines of the WJT tatami, a French hero and sporting icon. He has been climbing the rankings in recent months, a gold at the 2023 Doha World Championships assisting his aim, and he arrives in Dushanbe in 9th place on the Olympic Ranking List but with a lot of space to increase his points. A win in Tajikistan will be significant as he will break back into Olympic seeding and that is essential with the Games less than 3 months away.

Teddy Riner (FRA) on his way to gold in Antalya, 2024.

Tajikistan’s capital is beginning to buzz with the anticipation of some incredible judo in the coming days. The teams are arriving and the venue is close to being ready. To stay in touch with all the results and statistics, register for a Premium account on JudoTV today.

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