Eve day in Kazan for the Italian national judo team, in view of the last Grand Slam to be played before the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games. The actual competition will be staged from tomorrow to Friday 7 May, but today the draw of the scoreboards for all 14 weight categories in the program, which will involve a total of 408 athletes from 79 countries.
Headlights in blue key on the judoka still poised for the Olympic qualification, like Francesca Milani, Francesca Giorda, Maria Centracchio, Nicholas Mungai and Alice Bellandi, while the star of the expedition Fabio Basile will go on the hunt for an important result to definitively secure the ticket to Japan.
In the 48 kg Milani, eighth seeded in the seeding, debuts with the Turkish Senturk (direct clash towards Tokyo) and then enters later on a collision course in the quarters with the Japanese champion Funa Tonaki, while Giorda has a more open (but competitive) draw. up to a possible semifinal against the fearsome Frenchwoman Shirine Boukli.
Very negative draw at Italy in the 63 kg for Maria Centracchio, called to a great feat in the second round (after an easy first meeting with the Spanish Puche) against the Dutch n.8 in the world Sanne Vermeer to at least access the repechage.
Almost insurmountable obstacle on the horizon also for Alice Bellandi, inserted in Pool A of the 70 kg captained by the Japanese Chizuru Arai (possible crossing in the quarterfinals), but the Brescia player will first have to deal with the debut with the Asian champion Matniyazova.
Definitely easier path in the men’s 90 kg for Nicholas Mungai, n.8 of seeding, called to beat the insidious Uzbek Jandreev in the second round in order to reach the final of Pool (possible clash with the Serbian Majdov, bronze world champion in office) and consequently the certainty of entering the best 8 of the tournament .
Fabio Basile, seeded third in the 73 kg draw, has what it takes to fly to the semifinals, where a new chapter in the rivalry with the Swede Tommy Macias could loom on the horizon. In the same category, Giovanni Esposito hunts for the big target from unseeded in a billboard spot led by the Kazakh Smagulov and the Tajik Makhmadbekov.
Always with a view to Olympic qualification, Giorgia Stangherlin and Veronica Toniolo can amaze in 78 and 57 kg respectively in an attempt to stay in the running for the five-circle pass. The Venetian debuts in Kazan with a strong but not unbeatable opponent like the Russian Babintseva, while the very young Friulian has an affordable first round and then possibly two difficult clashes with the seeded n.5 (the Korean Kim Jisu) and n. 4 (the Russian Mezhetskaia) to try to fly in the semifinals.
The other Azzurri competing in Russia are effectively ousted from the race for Tokyo, but will go in search of a good result to continue the season with confidence.