Right after the Tashkent Grand Slam 2024, this weekend from Friday to Sunday, the World Judo Tour will be back in Europe, more precisely in Linz, Austria, for the Upper Austria Grand Prix 2024. The competition hasn’t started yet but we can already say that the field of participants is impressive both in terms of quality and quantity. The organisers are expecting more than 6,000 spectators over the three days and we are expecting many more online to follow the performances of the athletes.

Linz and Upper Austria were not chosen randomly to organise such a global competition. For instance, last month, Linz, the second largest city in Austria after Vienna, with a population of 215,000, hosted the Women’s Tennis Tour (WTA) with stars such as French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko. At the beginning of April, the Danube metropolis mutates into a marathon city with 20,000 participants and more than 100,000 visitors. In October, the TipsArena, where the judo competition is held, will host the European Table Tennis Championships with 600 players from 50 nations. Those few examples give an idea of why Linz has gained a national and international reputation as a city of sport.

Thus judo will set the tone this coming weekend. 528 athletes from 78 nations are announced, including Sanne Van Dijke (NED) and Francisco Garrigos (ESP), two world number ones, and Lukas Krpalek (CZE), a double Olympic champion, just to name a few top competitors. The Linz starters have a total of 13 world championship titles and 3 Olympic victories to their name.

The TipsArena is getting ready

The anticipation could hardly be greater. Austria's World Judo Tour comeback last year, after an 18-year absence, was a complete success. "When Lukas Krpalek and Anna-Maria Wagner repeatedly assure us that the tournament in Linz was completely to their liking, then we could rightly say that we did everything right at the Linz premiere," said Judo Austria President Martin Poiger. In sporting terms, Shamil Borchashvili's home win in the -81 kg category and newcomer Thomas Scharfetter’s -90 kg third place drew standing ovations from the home fans.

"We have our strongest team at the starting line this time, so I'm expecting at least five medals," predicts head coach Yvonne Snir-Bönisch. The Athens Olympic champion has recently made positive headlines herself. Martin Poiger reveals, "Despite numerous enquiries, Yvonne has committed herself to the Austrian federation until 2028, after the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She wants to continue on the successful path of the last three years, with 2 Olympic medals, 2 world championship medals and 4 grand slam victories. The medium-term goal is a permanent place in the Olympic mixed team competition."

Upper Austria Grand Prix 2023: Final, Borchashvili (AUT) vs Svidrak (UKR)

Important facts and figures about the 2nd Upper Austria Grand Prix:

  • A total of 528 judoka from 78 nations have entered for the three days of competition. By comparison, there were 455 starters from 72 nations at the Linz premiere last year.
  • ⁠In addition to the host Austria (34), France (25), Germany(22), Kazakhstan (22), Brazil (20), Italy (19), Israel (18), Japan (18), the Netherlands (18) and Spain (18) make up the largest delegations.
  • ⁠With an average age of 22.1 years, the Austrian team is extremely young. Five athletes are celebrating their World Judi Tour première.
  • ⁠The one and two person teams from Algeria, Benin, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Guam, Cape Verde, Congo, Mauritius, New Zealand, Thailand, and Trinidad and Tobago are bringing the diversity and universality of the event to new high standards.
  • ⁠A total of 17 top 10 athletes will be competing in Linz. If you add up all the triumphs of the Linz starters, you get a total of three Olympic victories and thirteen world championship titles.
  • ⁠The categories -81 kg with 62 participants and -63 kg with 40 have the most registered athletes, while the categories -70 kg and -81 kg and -90 kg have the highest quality entry with three each from the top 10 of the world rankings.
  • ⁠The TipsArena is designed for a capacity of 2,000 people for the three days of competition. Contests will take place simultaneously on four mats in the preliminary rounds.
  • ⁠Individual tickets are available. All information is at: www.judoaustria.at
  • ⁠Austria has six seeded athletes among the 34 team members: Michaela Polleres (-70 kg), Shamil Borchashvili (-81 kg), Aaron Fara (-100 kg), Katharina Tanzer (-48 kg), Wachid Borchashvili (-81 kg) and Lubjana Piovesana (-63 kg).
  • ⁠A total of 150 volunteers will ensure the smooth running of the event.

Last but not least, on 8th March, during the Upper Austria Grand Prix, we will celebrate International Women's Day. Austria being at the forefront of gender equality visibility, Linz will be the perfect place to send a message worldwide.

Follow the event at https://judotv.com/

Source Wolfgang Eichler

See also