The first edition of the Cancun Grand Prix is the most vital stop on the IJF World Judo Tour thus far in 2017 as it is the penultimate Grand Prix before August’s 2017 Suzuki World Judo Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Mexico, which successfully hosted the World Masters event in Guadalajara last year, hosts its first ever Grand Prix in the ultimate tourist destination from Friday 16 – Sunday 18 Junew which is a gateway to Worlds selection and judo joy on the elite stage.
As the IJF World Judo Tour heats up on the road to Budapest, the sandy beaches, sparkling blue ocean and balmy temperatures of the Cancun in the South East of Mexico, are the picturesque backdrop for the three-day Grand Prix which has attracted Olympic and world medallists.
Olympic and world medallists path to Budapest runs via Cancun
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA) is the one and only representative for her country while double Olympic bronze medallist Mayra AGUIAR (BRA) makes a timely return to action. World bronze medallist Victor PENALBER (BRA), heavyweight world number two David MOURA and London 2012 Olympic silver medallist UNGVARI Miklos (HUN) are also among the stars present in Cancun.
Mr. Armen BAGDASAROV, IJF Sports Director, revealed at the draw that 188 judoka would compete at #JudoCancun2017 from 36 nations (111 men and 77 women).
IJF President hails Mixed Team Event success for Tokyo 2020
From L-R: Mr. Juan CARLOS BARCOS, IJF Head Referee Director, Mr. Antonio Castro SOTO DEL VALLE, IJF Ambassador, Mr. Marius VIZER, IJF President, Mr. Armen BAGDASAROV, IJF Sports Director
Mr. Marius VIZER, IJF President, said: “Dear Manuel, dear colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen, it is a real pleasure to come for the first time in Cancun for a Grand Prix, I want to thank the government from Cancun, the Ministry of Sport, the Mexican Judo Federation and everyone here supporting the Grand Prix.
“It is a great pleasure and an honour to announce that judo’s mixed team event will be in Tokyo 2020 Olympics and after as well in next Olympics.
“I want to thank you for your efforts and dedication, I congratulate all coaches, athletes, the IJF team and Executive Committee and on behalf of the IJF I want to wish you a successful tournament. It is very good for Pan American judo to organise a Grand Prix in this region and I wish you all a lot of luck."
IJF Ambassador Mr. Antonio Castro SOTO DEL VALLE (above) was among the honoured guests in attendance at the draw on Thursday.
“Thank you for your invite, I am very happy to stay here, we are sure this event will be a success with lots of support from the IJF and judoka from all regions," he said. "I thank you for coming and we hope you enjoy this Grand Prix, hopefully it will be the first of many Grand Prix here in Cancun.”
From L-R: Mr. Manuel LARRANAGA, Pan American Confederation and Mexican Judo Federation President, Mr. Jesus Antonio LOPEZ PINZON, President of the Committee of Sport for Quintana Roo (COJUDEQ), Mr. Jose HUMBERTO Rodriguez, Pan American Confederation Director
Mr. Jesus Antonio LOPEZ PINZON, President of the Committee of Sport for Quintana Roo (COJUDEQ), said: “Good morning all, we would like to thank the IJF and Mr. Marius VIZER as it is very important for our country and our city of Cancun to host this really important event. We want to thank the Mexican Judo Federation and want to say a message to all cities and countries around the world that is a really good place. Thank you all for coming here and thank you for making us the hosts.”
Mr. Manuel LARRANAGA, Pan American Confederation and Mexican Judo Federation President, said: “Good morning everyone, on behalf of Mexican Judo Federation I would like to welcome you all here to Cancun. We would like to thank Mr. Marius VIZER for all of his support towards our country. We would also like to thank the governor of the city for letting us be the host city of this event.
“We would also like to thank Mr. PINZON for giving us all the facilities and tools to be the host city of this event. Thank you to our sponsors and the official hotels for supporting us. Welcome all to Cancun, this city of Paradise, and finally we thank Mr. VIZER once again for supporting us to stage this Grand Prix.”
From L-R: IJF Hall of Famer Driulis González MORALES, triple world champion and four-time Olympic medallist, who is now a Cuban national team coach, alongside former teammate and three-time Olympic bronze medallist Amarilis SAVON, who was recently appointed as coach of Bahamas
While the draw was underway and throughout Thursday, the IJF staged an Instagram Takeover with London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and former world silver medallist Marti MALLOY (USA) who competes on Friday.
Click here to see the IJF Instagram Takeover by Marti MALLOY (USA)
Before the action in Mexico begins on Friday, the IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER, will host his latest Twitter Question and Answer session from 9am local time (3pm UK) live from Cancun. The IJF President will be ready to answer questions from all media outlets, judoka, fans, coaches and all corners of the world.
Any subject is open for discussion and questions can already be posted in advance using the hashtag #AskVizer
Use #JudoCancun2017 to join in with the social media discussion
London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist CSERNOVICZKI Eva (HUN) won her only Worlds medal to date back in 2011 in Paris. The 30-year-old – a two-time European champion and three-time Grand Prix winner – has her best chance of Worlds success this summer as judo’s annual marquee event arrives in Budapest, Hungary for the first time. CSERNOVICZKI starts as the top seed in Cancun and a win would be an ideal platform to launch her title bid in August. Pan American Championships silver medallist Edna CARRILLO (MEX) is one of her country’s most talented judoka and could win her first ever IJF medal with the home field advantage while former Grand Slam silver medallist Gabriela CHIBANA (BRA) will be among the leading contenders.
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA) will compete on the IJF World Judo Tour this weekend for the first time since losing out to Majlinda KELMENDI (KOS) for the -52kg gold medal in Brazil. The 22-year-old, who turned down a spot on Italy’s Dancing With Stars TV series to compete at the European Championships, finished fifth at the continental championships and will start as the favourite in Mexico as she looks to move one step closer to winning her first Worlds medal. Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist Angelica DELGADO (USA) will be the number one seed but will have her work cut out to turn that into first place with London 2012 Olympic champion Sarah MENEZES (BRA) – a long-time -48kg standout – now stepping up her pursuit of top honours at -52kg.
Ekaterinburg Grand Slam winner Miryam ROPER (PAN) wrote her name into the history books as she made sure that Panama’s first ever IJF World Judo Tour medal was gold with a stunning display last time out in Russia. ROPER, 34, started over in April with zero world ranking points when she wore a Panama judogi for the first time and finished fifth at the Pan American Championships and is already up to 12th in the world. The former world bronze medallist now has that goal for her father’s country and arrives in Cancun as the number one seed. Long-time rival Marti MALLOY (USA) – who beat ROPER for bronze at the continental championships – last graced an IJF podium in Budapest last year with bronze at Hungary’s Grand Prix and could send the American flag to the rafters with victory in Mexico.
Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Andreja LESKI (SLO) is a new judoka to follow at -63kg and the 20-year-old could break into the world’s top 10 with a strong outing in Mexico. Double Pan American Championships bronze medallist Hannah MARTIN (USA) has hit the medal trail in 2017 while Brazil continue to stick by their veterans such as Ketleyn QUADROS (BRA) who will pose a considerable medal threat on day two.
Venezuela’s first world number one Elvismar RODRIGUEZ (IJF) is the number one seed at an IJF World Judo Tour for the first time this weekend. The 20-year-old has progressed far quicker than anyone expected with a flurry of Grand Slam and Grand Prix medals over the last year to already became her country’s most successful judoka in the modern era of the IJF circuit. Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Sally CONWAY (GBR) took silver on her post-Olympic return to competition at the Bucharest European Open two weeks ago and will certainly be in the medal shake-up in Mexico. Former world number one Kelita ZUPANCIC (CAN) took silver at the Paris Grand Slam in February and has won four medals on the trot this year going into the first Cancun Grand Prix.
Double Olympic bronze medallist Mayra AGUIAR (BRA) makes her eagerly-awaited return to action on Sunday and will hope for a winning return at the penultimate Grand Prix before the Worlds. Former world champion AGUIAR, 25, won bronze in Brazil at the Olympics last time out and has slipped down the rankings due to her inactivity to 19th place in the world. Since her nemesis Kayla HARRISON (USA) has retired, AGUIAR is expected to rule the category for years to come and will get her Worlds preparations back on track with gold in Cancun. Double European bronze medallist Natalie POWELL (GBR) is the top seed in the -78kg category. The world number six took silver at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam in May and should prove to be the toughest challenge for AGUIAR. Pan American Championships silver medallist Kaliema ANTOMARCHI (CUB) could make a medal push and is at her best when competing in the Americas.
The +78kg category looks wide open with Brazil, USA, Mexico, Croatia, Great Britain and Slovenia all targeting top spot. Pan American Championships bronze medallist Nina CUTRO-KELLY (USA) is the number one seed after a strong run in Pan American events while all eyes will be on Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Anamari VELENSEK (SLO) who makes her +78kg debut on her first competition since the Olympics. Lima Pan American Open winner Rochele NUNES (BRA) could add to her IJF World Judo Tour medal count on the final day in Mexico as one of the most experienced judoka in the category.