Big weekend ahead in Paris

The British team will have a tough weekend ahead of them in a world-class field at the 2016 Paris Grand Slam on 6-7 February.

In an Olympic year it’s no surprise that the very best in the world are on show at the Bercy Arena and there won’t be many “easy” contests on offer this weekend.

On Saturday 6 multiple Grand Slam medallist Colin Oates (-66kg) will take on the winner of Sugoi Uriarte (ESP) and Akil Gjakova (KOS) in his first contest with a potential quarter-final match-up against France’s Loic Korval in store.

Nekoda Davis (-57kg) will hope to continue the strong form that got her a silver at the Jeju Grand Prix towards the back end of 2015 but if she gets through her first contest against Zouleiha Abzetta Dabonne (CIV) she will have the world number one Sumiya Dorjsuren (MGL) lying in wait.

Kelly Edwards (-52kg) continues her return from a long lay-off as she takes on last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Annabelle Euranie (FRA), Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) faces Aaron Kunihiro (USA) in the first round and European Under-23 champion Amy Livesey (-63kg) makes her Grand Slam debut against Marielle Pruvost (FRA).

Another seven British judoka will be stepping onto the tatami on Sunday 7 with 2015 Baku Grand Slam winner Sally Conway (-70kg) receiving a bye into the second round where she will take on the winner of Onix Cortes Aldama (CUB) and Antonia Moreira (ANG).

In the -81kg category Owen Livesey makes his debut alongside sister Amy as he faces Kazakhstan judoka Yernazar Khamzin with a potential rematch from the Havana Grand Prix against Laszlo Csoknyai (HUN) in the second round.

-78kg category is as strong as expected with Natalie Powell hoping to make it two wins in a row over the experienced Yalennis Castillo (CUB) while Gemma Gibbons could have a London 2012 rematch with Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA) if she gets through her first round match with Yahima Ramirez (POR).

Ben Fletcher and Philip Awiti-Alcaraz are both looking to make a big impression at -100kg as they take on Kyles Reyes (CAN) and Beka Gviniashvili (GEO) respectively in their first round contests while Sarah Adlington (+78kg) faces strong Mongolian Javzmaa Odkhuu.

Elite Performance coach Kate Howey is fully prepared for a tough set of contests this weekend:

“The draws are what we expected as it is Paris in Olympic year. Obviously being seeded has helped and we have three players seeded in Colin Oates, Sally Conway and Natalie Powell. As long as the players perform to their best then I will be happy and if they do they are capable of medalling.”

Performance Director Nigel Donohue said:

“We are targeting the Paris Grand Slam as a key event in our preparations for Rio as we know that performances and placings in Paris gives confidence in knowing that you can compete with and beat some of the best in the world and we can use this event as a platform to build upon as we countdown to Rio.”

Alice Schlesinger (-63kg) was selected as part of the British team for the Paris Grand Slam however has had to withdraw due to illness. We wish her a speedy recovery as she looks ahead to preparations for the Dusseldorf Grand Prix (Feb 19-21).

Be sure to follow all the action live on from 8am GMT each day. Join the conversation on #JudoParis2016 and follow @BritishJudo on Twitter for live results updates on the British judoka

In Paris this weekend? Tweet us your messages of support using #WeAreGBJudo