GB Judo will be in action this weekend as the IJF World Tour stops off in Mexico for the 2017 Cancun Grand Prix from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 June.
A 14-strong British squad will take to the tatami in one of the last major ranking events ahead of the 2017 World Championships in Budapest (HUN) later this summer.
Day One (Friday 16) sees Kim Renicks (-48kg), Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) and Sam Hall (-66kg) looking to make their mark. With nobody entered from the world top 10 in the -48kg category, Renicks will be looking for her best finish at a Grand Prix since the Abu Dhabi event in 2013, where she finished fifth.
Double Olympian McKenzie will go in as one of the top seeds at -60kg and last fought at the European Championships, where he finished seventh. Spain’s Francisco Garrigos and Phelipe Pelim (BRA) will be tough opponents, both men having beaten the British judoka this year. However, McKenzie has a good record across the Atlantic with bronze medals at the Miami and Havana Grand Prix (2013 and 2014).
Former Junior European silver medallist Sam Hall is continuing to build his experience at senior level and has been close to medalling with three fifth places at European Opens in the last 8-12 months. Hall will be aiming to secure a strong result with Israeli duo Tal Flicker and Baruch Shmailov the standout names in Cancun.
Day Two (Saturday 17) will be the busiest day by far for GB Judo with seven judoka on the mat. At -63kg, Amy Livesey and Lubjana Piovesana are both in good form having picked up bronze medals at the Yekaterinburg Grand Slam and Antalya Grand Prix respectively.
Livesey moved inside the world top 20 off the back of her result in Russia and will be one of the highest seeded athletes in Cancun. Piovesana is one of four GB -63kg athletes in the world top 50 and the, still junior, judoka has shown impressive development at senior level.
The -70kg category sees Olympic bronze medallist Sally Conway continue her return to competition judo. The 30 year old made her competitive comeback at the Bucharest European Open earlier this month where she won silver. The last time Conway fought in Mexico was at the 2016 World Masters in Guadalajara where she produced some good judo to finish fifth.
She’ll be joined at -70kg by Gemma Howell, who has been impressive since her move up to the weight earlier this year. Howell has medalled at each of her world ranking events to date including bronze at the Antalya Grand Prix.
Jack Smith and Patrick Dawson are GB entries at -73kg with both men looking to impress at Grand Prix level. Smith won his first senior medal last year with bronze at the Taipei Asian open while Dawson made a return to international judo at the Bucharest European Open at the start of June. Owen Livesey (-81kg) made a solid return to the IJF World Tour with a fifth place at the Tbilisi Grand Prix in March and could well face World No.4 Attila Ungvari (HUN) in the quarter-finals. Sagi Muki (ISR) will be one to keep an eye out for having moved up from -73kg.
Day Three (Sunday 18) sees the final four GB judoka fighting at Cancun with Natalie Powell (-78kg) looking to add another Grand Prix medal to her growing collection. In a small entry at -78kg Powell will be aiming to medal but Brazil’s Mayra Aguiar will be a threat. Sarah Adlington (+78kg) will be fighting in her first world ranking event in over a year and will be hoping to pick up her first Grand Prix medal since Tashkent in 2014.
-100kg duo Ben Fletcher and Philip Awiti-Alcaraz will both be looking to finish in the medals. Fletcher looked in good form at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix in February where he finished in fifth and has shown he can medal at this level having won bronze in Ulaanbaatar in 2015.
Awiti-Alcaraz also has a Grand Prix medal to his name, beating former world champion Elkhan Mammadov (AZE) former bronze in Budapest last year. This will be the 23 year old’s first international tournament since finishing fifth in the Qingdao Grand Prix last year.
GB Elite Performance Coach Kate Howey MBE said:
“We have come out here with the expectation of getting some medals and points in the world rankings. This is also the last IJF tournament before the Worlds for some of the players so it’s a chance to put some technical and tactical plans into action.”
All of the judo this weekend will be broadcast LIVE via ippon.tv from 1700 UK time (1100 local) each day with the final block starting at 2300 UK time (1700 local). You can follow @BritishJudo on Twitter for live build-up and updates throughout the weekend and tweet your support using #WeAreGBJudo and #JudoCancun2017