Judoka will end their season in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from Monday (23 September), at the final International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo Grand Prix of 2019.
The competition will be shown live on YouTube and IBSA Judo’s Facebook page. Live results will also be available at www.ippon.org
Headlining the men’s competition will be Paralympic champion Sherzod Namozov competing for the hosts in the men’s up to 60kg.
Namozov is the new Asian champion but will be seeking to overcome Kazakhstan’s world title-holder Olzhas Orazalyuly.
Romania’s European gold medallist Alex Bologa is also likely to feature.
Uzbekistan have another Paralympic winner in the men’s up to 66kg - Utkirjon Nigmatov. However, Nigmatov has failed to top the podium at regional or World Championships since winning gold at Rio 2016.
Azerbaijan’s Bayram Mustafayev topped the category’s Worlds podium in 2018. Ukrainian Paralympic bronze medallist Davyd Khorava also still features amongst its top fighters as the European champion.
The men’s over 100kg promises to deliver an exciting competition. A deep field, including the current world and Asian champion, as well as a series of other medallists, are set to compete.
Iran’s Mohammedezra Kheirollahzadeh, the Iranian world title-holder, highlights the field. Azerbaijan’s Athen 2004 and Beijing 2008 champion and International Judo Federation Hall of Famer Ilham Zakiyev joins him in the category.
Uzbekistan’s Shirin Sharipov will hope to deliver another upset as he did at the Asian Championships in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, earlier in September. Sharipov faced Kheirollahzadeh for gold and won.
South Korea’s Gwan Geun Choi, the up to 100kg Rio 2016 champion, is also entered in the category.
All four podium finishers from the last Paralympic Games will appear in the women’s up to 48kg.
China’s Li Liqing, Germany’s Carmen Brussig, Ukraine’s Yuliya Halinska and Turkey’s Ecem Tasin stepped onto the podium at Rio 2016.
A couple more faces were added to the top judoka in the category at the 2018 IBSA Judo World Championships. These included Azerbaijan’s Shahana Hajiyeva and Chinese Taipei’s Kai Lin Lin, the respective silver and bronze medallists. France’s up to 52kg Sandrine Martinet also joined them on the podium having moved down to the lower category.
In the women’s up to 52kg Ukraine’s world and European champion Inna Cherniak and Canada’s Worlds bronze medallist Priscilla Gagne highlight the field. Uzbekistan’s Sevinch Salaeva will also take to the mat fresh from winning the Asian title in early September.
Brazil’s world title-holder and Paralympic silver medallist Alana Martins starts as a main contender in the women’s up to 70kg. The competition could feature a replay of the final from the 2018 Worlds when Martins overcame Uzbekistan’s Vasila Aliboeva.
Elsewhere in the category European medallists such as Turkish champion Raziye Ulucam and Croatian Lucija Breskovic will feature on their road to the Paralympics.
“Now I’m getting ready for Uzbekistan, but we also started with preparations for Tokyo,” Breskovic, who took bronze at the Euros, said. “Spiritually, physically, psychologically. Pray, train, eat, sleep and repeat.
“Alana [Martins] from Brazil is the one who I admire the most, she is so focused and it looks like she knows what she is doing. In judo nobody is unbeatable, I just need to keep working.”
The 2019 IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Tashkent is being held in partnership with the International Judo Federation. It is the final competition of the season, following Asian and European Championships, the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games and another Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan.