Linz is ready for Judo Grand Prix
Straight after the World Championships in Doha is this week the Upper Austria Grand Prix in Linz. Upper Austria was the venue of a world cup A tournament between 1980 and 2006. Now a competition at IJF World Tour level is taking place in Linz for the first time. On three competition days, beginning on Thursday, 454 judoka from 72 nations are expected at the Upper Austria Judo Grand Prix.
No less than 13 top ten athletes have been entered, first and foremost the eleven times Olympic champion Teddy Riner from France (+100kg), Czechia’s double Olympic champion Lukas Krpalek (U100kg), the German world champion Anna-Maria Wagner (U78kg) and world number one Denis Vieru of Moldova (U66kg). Austria has 42 judoka in the starting line-up, including the entire world championship team.
Judo Austria President Martin Poiger has many reasons to be happy, "We as an association can live very well with three top-7 placings, above all the bronze medal for Michaela Polleres (U70kg). It is the most successful red-white-red world championships since 2005 (silver: Lupo Paischer at -60kg and bronze: Sabrina Filzmoser at -57kg). A small drop of bitterness is the fact that even more would have been possible. Austro-Brit Lubjana ‘Lulu’ Piovesana was narrowly beaten by Szofi Ozbas (HUN) in the fight for bronze, the 7th place of Wachid Borchashvili (-81kg) was dismissed by some media as a premature elimination. However, Wachid and Shamil's weight class is extremely competitive. Wachid brought the defending champion and double world champion Grigalashvili to the brink of defeat. Wachid's second narrow defeat was against none other than Olympic champion Takanori Nagase (JPN). Wachid delivered an absolutely world class performance in Doha with 7th place."
Head coach Yvonne Snir-Bönisch has been vehemently campaigning for Austria to be awarded a World Tour-level tournament again since she took office. "We want to present ourselves in front of our home crowd, with our top players and also want our talented athletes to get used to the higher level, step by step. The more spectators come, the better. Due to injuries, Michaela Polleres and Wachid Borchashvili are still in doubt. Only when the knee injuries have healed does it make sense for both of them to start. We don't want to take any risks."
Sabrina Filzmoser was last in Doha as athletes' spokesperson for the International Judo Federation. The ÖJV Vice President was keeping her fingers crossed for her former teammates in the mixed team competition. Last week Sabrina passed the police service test and in the autumn the next practical test will begin. "I really want to compete in front of my home crowd again. For me, it would be a huge honour."
Wachid Borchashvili (-81) returned from the World Championships in Doha with mixed feelings. "The seventh place brings important points for the world ranking. It's a pity that I couldn't compete in the mixed team event due to a knee injury. I should be fit again for the home grand prix next week. Being able to fight in front of my family and friends means a lot to me."
Shamil, 27, would not mind a first competitive duel with his brother, who is three years younger, "That would be really cool! Wachid has recently delivered a series of very good results. He is technically more versatile, whereas I have more experience especially in big events and live from my physical strength. A few weeks ago I would have been convinced that I would win. Now, after the World Championships, I don't dare to say that for sure.