The IJF World Tour heads to Georgia this weekend as the GB squad takes to the mat at the Tbilisi Grand Prix in the hope of continuing their recent fine form in international competition.
An 16-strong British team will be taking to the mat at the New Sports Palace in Georgia looking to build upon a year that has seen tremendous success already including medals at the Paris and Dusseldorf Grand Slam and Tunis Grand Prix.
It was a weekend of close calls for GB last year in Tbilisi with three Fifth placed finishes for Nekoda Smythe-Davis, Max Stewart and Owen Livesey whilst Amy Livesey, Kelly Edwards and Chelsie Giles all placed Seventh.
The squad will be hoping for better luck this year as a young squad including the likes of Dan Powell (-73kg), Eric Ham (-73kg), Stuart McWatt (-81kg), Acelya Toprak (-57kg) and Lubjana Piovesana (-63kg) all look to make their mark on the competition and bring back a medal.
Powell, Ham, McWatt and Jamal Petgrave (-90kg) formed the majority of the Junior European Championships squad that claimed a bronze medal in the event and all have just made the transition from junior level competition into the senior squad.
They have individually made their Grand Prix debuts in the last six months in their respective weight categories. Each one of the athletes had stellar junior careers but are yet to medal in senior level competition.
Adam Hoshal will join McWatt in the -81kg category. Hoshal was eliminated in the opening round of the Agadir Grand Prix in his last outing on the mat.
Lasha Lekishvili will continue his development at -66kg after making his debut earlier this year following a successful British Championships in which he finished on the podium.
Frazer Chamberlain (-90kg) returns in Georgia and will want to better his previous results of this year which have included a Fifth place at the Tunis Grand Prix and a Seventh place at the Agadir Grand Prix. He will be hoping to go one further this time and battle his way onto the podium.
Andrew Melbourne completes the male squad line up as he enters the +100kg competition.
Kimberley Renicks and Kelly Staddon will take to the mat in the -48kg category. Renicks is yet to medal at a Grand Prix, but has come close in the past with Fifth placed finishes at The Hague, Cancun and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix previously. Staddon on the other hand is still finding her feet at Grand Prix and Grand Slam level and Tbilisi will be just her sixth Grand Prix of her short career.
Chelsie Giles (-52kg) has finished in Seventh place for the last three Grand Prix that she has competed in since Tbilisi last year so she will be hoping for a favourable draw that could see her progress into the later stages of the competition again this year.
Acelya Toprak has been so dominant at domestic level competition and has shown glimpses of her potential on the global stage after topping the podium at the Belgrade European Open in September 2017. Tbilisi will represent her Grand Prix debut and we are excited to see her perform.
Lucy Renshall and Lubjana Piovesana are just two of a stacked -63kg category for GB Judo and they will both have the chance to perform in Georgia. Renshall has performed consistently since returning from injury in September last year after six months off. She has placed in five of the seven events she has entered since her reutnr including a fifth place at the Paris Grand Slam in February.
Piovesana will be making her first appearance on the mat in 2018 following her break through bronze medal at the Junior World Championships in October 2017. She has shown form in senior level competition before however having won bronze at the Cancun and Antalya Grand Prix in an impressive 2017.
Gemma Howell and Jemima Yeats-Brown (-70kg) complete the GB line up in Georgia. Howell picked up her first picked up her first Grand Prix medal since June 2017 at the Tunis Grand Prix which has seen her rise to No.22 in the World Rankings. Yeats-Brown has showed glimpses of her former self following a horrible injury which kept her out of action for over a year. She returned to the mat in January at the Tunis Grand Prix and has since picked up Gold at the Rome European Open and a seventh place at the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam.