We have singled out a heralded champion and a contender who could star at #JudoParis2018
Olympic silver medallist
3-time Paris GS winner 2016, 2014, 2013
The French firepower is led by world champion Clarisse Agbegnenou. The formidable -63kg fighter has made the division her own as one of the most consistent performers in the sport ever since she won the Paris Grand Slam for the first time in 2013.
Agbegnenou, 25, has medalled at four consecutive World Champions with silver in 2013, gold in 2014, silver in 2015 and gold in 2017.
The two-time European champion went to her first Olympic Games in 2016 and took silver after falling to defeat against then world champion Tina Trstenjak (SLO) who remains her arch-rival.
Agbegnenou and Trstenjak, who are the standard bearers at -63kg, have met eight times on the competition tatami and are tied at four wins apiece. A meeting this weekend seems inevitable and will be one of the most desired contests of the first Grand Slam of the new season.
Both judoka will be present in Paris with only gold in mind and victory for either judoka will set the tone for a crucial year of IJF World Judo Tour action which for the first time features six Grand Slams and marks the start of Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification in May.
Christa Deguchi (CAN)
2013 Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medallist (for Japan)
World ranking: 110
Former Junior World Championships silver medallist Christa Deguchi reppeared on the IJF World Judo Tour circuit last year with a new country code on her judogi.
Deguchi was a highly-rated member of the Japanese team in the Rio 2016 Olympic cycle but faced fierce competition from judoka such as London 2012 Olympic champion Matsumoto Kaori and current world silver medallist Yoshida Tsukasa.
Born to a Canadian father and Japanese mother in Nagano, Japan, the dual-qualified judoka set about making the switch to represent Canada in 2014 but the lateness of the move ended her ambition of fighting at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The 22-year-old was absent from the circuit between 2014 and 2017 as Japan took up their entitlement to withhold their talent from switching nations for a period of two years.
Deguchi’s first contest back in 2017 came at the World Championships against the Olympic silver medallist Dorjsuren Sumiya and the former pushed the eventual gold medallist the distance and into golden score.
A return to the Tokyo Grand Slam in December was short-lived after a first round defeat at the hands of two-time Grand Prix winner Anastasiia Konkina (RUS).
Deguchi delivered her first medal for Canada earlier this month in Europe. Canada’s newest team member won gold at Portugal’s European Open last weekend as she won all five contests by ippon.
No member of the -57kg category will want to face off with Deguchi in the early rounds in Paris. Coming into the event outside the world’s top 100, the teak-tough fighter will be drawn against one of the top-ranked judoka but will be confident of taking a major scalp as she returns to the bright lights of France’s blockbuster event.