The Portugal Grand Prix 2023 is the first event of the season. We have already had the opportunity to clarify this and to emphasise this introduction, which promises to be very exciting. A start to the season is always synonymous with unanswered questions, although we know that soon we will be able to answer most of them.

In the meantime, we can already confirm that the 2023 Portugal Grand Prix sets a new record: that of the number of new entrants to an event on the World Judo Tour.

Dr. Lisa Allan, IJF Events Director said, "I am super excited to have 40 new athletes, who never ever participated in a WJT event, with us. This is great. It's a new start and I think it's really nice. I believe that the international training of Mittersill in Austria, which took place a couple of weeks ago, attracted many delegations in Europe and most of them decided to stay and travel to Portugal. They will also be in Paris next week. It's really a good combination of training camps and tournaments."

Maito Hirayama (JPN) is new on the circuit

Elisabetta Fratini, from the IJF IT department, who is in charge of the accreditation of delegations and who works on the updates of the World Ranking List, explained, "There are many new athletes who are trying to get ranking points, having in mind the qualification for the next Olympic Games in Paris. Of course the local competitors are numerous as well. It's good to see that the Portuguese Judo Federation inscribed many new judoka. They want them to gain experience.

This is not always the case. Sometimes it's easier to count on experienced athletes but such an event as the grand prix here in Portugal is the best place to test athletes and to offer them a chance to shine on the international scene.

First ever participation in a grand prix of Catarina Silva (POR - white judogi), against Fabiola Diaz (VEN)

I think that this record of 40 new competitors is the sign that we are building a new generation of champions. You know, normally a high number of new entries happens during continental opens because those events are also open to clubs and not only national delegations but here, as I was working on the World Ranking List, I saw the figures and I was really thrilled and happy."

Out of those forty new judoka, whose names were unknown until today, we will, for instance, follow Roldeney Oliveira from São Tomé e Príncipe, who is going to compete at -73kg. Not only is he new on the circuit but his country is also very new. São Tomé e Príncipe is the most recent federation to have joined the IJF family, arriving last year. Andre Rosa, President of the São Tomé Judo Federation said, "São Tomé e Príncipe will be represented in an IJF World Judo Tour event for the first time, in the Portugal Grand Prix. This is an honour and a big achievement for us as a national federation and for our athlete, Roldeney Oliveira, who started his judo practice in the small Principe island in 2016 and moved to live in Portugal just recently. This was only possible due to the collaboration of our National Olympic Committee with the IJF and the club that welcomed Roldeney in Portugal."

The only thing that we can do with all the new competitors is wish them good luck, the best of luck. We can also tell them that the most important thing is not only to participate but to do with passion and the willingness of giving the best of themselves. For sure, 40 new competitors will stick to this philosophy over the weekend in Almada.

More images of the Grand Prix Portugal 2023 - CLICK HERE

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