An eight-strong GB Judo team will be looking to end the year on a high at the 2018 Guangzhou Masters in China from 15 – 16 December.
Rio 2016 bronze medallist Sally Conway (-70kg) and two-time World medallist Nekoda Smythe-Davis (-57kg) are among the GB team fighting at this weekend’s final competition of the IJF calendar. This will also be the largest team GB Judo have taken to the IJF Masters to date.
Selections for the IJF Masters are based on world rankings with the top 16 in each weight category invited to fight at the final event of the year.
If any of the top 16 cannot attend, then invites are made to the next best athletes in the weight up to world ranking of 32.
World ranking points for the Masters sit only second to the World Championships with up to 1800 points on offer.
To date only two British judoka have medalled at the IJF Masters, Natalie Powell, who is entered at -78kg this weekend, and Euan Burton.
Powell is also the only GB judoka to have reached an IJF Masters final, having done so in 2015.
London judoka Smythe-Davis won silver at the World Judo Championships in September, her second World medal after winning bronze in 2017.
In addition, the Rio Olympian also won her first Grand Slam gold as she topped the medal rostrum in Dusseldorf in February. She faces France’s three-time Masters medallist Helene Recevaux in her first contest on Saturday.
Sally Conway has been GB Judo’s most successful fighter this year in terms of medals won with six rostrum finishes in eight events.
Those results include gold medals at the Paris Grand Slam and The Hague Grand Prix as well as a silver at the European Championships in Tel Aviv.
Spain’s Maria Bernabeu is first up for Conway on Sunday. These two have fought each other eleven times since 2007 with Conway leading their head to head 8 – 3.
Chelsie Giles (-52kg) will be the only player in the team making her Masters debut following a strong 2018.
The Coventry has won her maiden Grand Slam and Grand Prix medals this year including bronze at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in October.
She makes her debut on Saturday where she’ll face Japan’s World silver medallist Natsumi Tsunoda for a place in the quarter-finals.
They are joined in the team by -63kg duo Lucy Renshall and Alice Schlesinger. Both fighters have Grand Prix medals to their names in 2018 with bronze in Tbilisi and silver at The Hague respectively. Renshall also won bronze at the European Championships in April.
Renshall and Schlesinger take on the current Olympic and World champions in Tina Trstenjak (SLO) and Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA).
Powell sits just behind Conway in terms of number of medals won on the IJF World Tour in 2018 with five, including silver at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and a third European Championships bronze.
Russia’s Anastasiya Dmitrieva will be first up for the Irfon judoka with a potential quarter-final against current World Champion Shori Hamada (JPN).
Sarah Adlington (+78kg) is making her first IJF Masters appearance since 2011 and the Edinburgh judoka has had another consistent year including fifth at the Worlds in Baku.
She faces off against Cuban legend Idalys Ortiz for the first time since 2016.
Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) is the sole male representative in the GB team this weekend. The Camberley judoka made an excellent start to 2018 with bronze medals at the European Championships, Paris Grand Slam and Zagreb Grand Prix.
McKenzie will face Eric Takabatake (BRA) for the sixth time on Saturday, with the British judoka currently leading their head to head 3 – 2.
Competition starts at 0300 UK time on Saturday and 0330 UK time on Sunday with the final block set to start at 0900 UK time on each day.
Competition will be live streamed via live.ijf.org. Follow @BritishJudo on Twitter for an early morning update and live coverage of GB Judo in the final block.