There are 107 countries participating in this year’s Paris Grand Slam. This is clearly a big number of delegations. The history, the forthcoming Olympic Games and the chance to fight in the massive Bercy Arena are among the myriad reasons judoka flock to Paris every February.

There are many judoka convoked from smaller judo nations, athletes who have little experience at the top level but choose to compete in Paris or who have begun to amass a great deal of experience but are yet to earn a big result.

-48 kg Aymard (GAB)

3 continental open titles plus an experience in Doha at the 2023 World Championships.

Virginia Aymard (GAB) winning her first round contest in Paris in 2023.

-60 kg Dacruz (LBN)

Had amassed 3 continental open medals since the end of 2022 and sits at 124th in the world.

-60 kg Sithisane (LAO)

His first WJT event was the Tokyo Grand Slam in 2019 but he has also participated in two Olympic Games: Rio & Tokyo. He is 294th on the World Ranking List.

Sithisane (LAO) in Dusseldorf, 2020.

-52 kg Ferreira (MOZ)

4 continental open medals and 5 world championship attendances.

-52 kg Maharani (INA)

Age 23 and her first open medal was won in Hong Kong last November.

-57 kg Dabonne (CIV)

Competed at the Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games, has 8 continental medals and so arrives with a lot of experience.

Ferreira (MOZ) competing at the 2021 senior worlds.

-57 kg Escano (GUA)

Age 22 and her first world championship appearance is logged. Her first open medal came in Tahiti in 2022.

Each of these day one fighters is gathering the experience needed to make progress. Each of them can be proud that they inspire the youngsters in their home countries and push boundaries that have seemed insurmountable. They are a catalyst for improved participation and development around the world.


The -57 kg category includes 3 world champions (Deguchi, Klimkait and Silva) and 2 Olympic champions (Gjakova and again Silva). They are spread evenly through the 4 quarters of the draw and in theory could be the 4 semi-finalists at the end of the preliminary block. However, we haven’t yet mentioned the big names punctuating the rest of the group and the list includes world and Olympic medallists in spades.

The 2023 Qazaqstan Barysy Grand Slam final between 2021 Olympic champion Gjakova and 2021 Olympic silver medallist Cysique.

Summary: Tamaoki (JPN) won silver at the 2021 worlds, Smythe-Davis (GBR) took world medals in 2017 and 2018. Cysique (FRA) is a current Olympic silver medallist. Gneto took Olympic bronze in London in 2012.

Klimkait and Tamaoki's 2021 world championship final.

With 8 world and or Olympic medallists present, it is a category of crazy quality and the 4 we mentioned first may not find it so easy to reach the podium.


At -66 kg Maruyama (JPN) makes an appearance for the first time in 9 months. He’s unseeded despite being a double world champion. His first round opponent is also unseeded and is none other than 2016 Olympic champion Fabio Basile (ITA).

Maruyama winning World Judo Masters gold in 2018.

The draw was unkind to both men; it was incredibly naughty to set up such a first round contest but the spectators will have a reason to be present from the opening seconds of the tournament. Until now they have never fought in competition. This is one of the reasons Paris retains its magnetism. Momentum built over 50 editions means there are guarantees every single year of tantalising early contests and almost unbelievable losses. Either Maruyama or Basile will be heading home before elevenses!

See also