Belarus is the latest stop on the IJF World Tour for GB Judo with ten British judoka fighting at the Minsk European Open this weekend from Saturday 18 to Sunday 19 August.
The European Open is acting as a test event for the 2019 European Games in Minsk, which will double up as next year’s European Championships.
Kelly Staddon (-48kg) will be aiming to add a second European Open medal to her collection, following her silver in the Belgrade European Open last September. The Ford Judo Club judoka won bronze at the Saarbrucken Senior European Cup in July and secured her first win at Grand Prix level recently.
At -57kg Lele Nairne is continuing to gain Senior experience following an injury hit Junior career. The Bradley Stoke judoka won her first senior international medal earlier this year with bronze at the Orenburg Senior European Cup.
Lubjana Piovesana (-63kg) has medalled at Grand Prix level three times, most recently in Tbilisi in March. However, the Birmingham judoka has not yet medalled at an European Open and going in as second seed she has a good opportunity to add one to her collection.
Bath judoka Gregg Varey (-66kg) has a couple of continental open medals to his name, most recently at the Casablanca European Open last year. The British fighter has actually beaten top seed, and home judoka, Dzmitry Minkou (BEL) twice.
-73kg duo of Eric Ham and Dan Powell both go in among the top seeds. Both judoka have placed at senior world ranking events in 2018 and they will hope to continue their progression this year with a place in the medal contests on Saturday.
Sunday will be the turn of Emma Reid (-78kg), Sarah Hawkes (+78kg), Stuart McWatt (-81kg) and Rhys Thompson (-100kg).
Reid finished fifth at the Rome European Open in February, beating higher-ranked judoka along the way. The British fighter also has a number of seventh place finishes at European Opens that she will want to improve upon in Minsk.
Current Senior British champion Hawkes finished seventh in the Madrid European Open at the start of the Olympic qualification period and she will be aiming to add more qualification points to her total, as well as international silverware.
Garioch’s McWatt has had a solid 2018 in his first full year at senior level including seventh places at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam and Zagreb Grand Prix. The 21 year old is a European Open medallist from 2015 in Glasgow and will want to back up his seeding in a strong weight category.
At -100kg, Thompson will be making his first appearance on the international circuit in over a year, having last fought at the Bucharest European Open in June 2017. The Bath judoka made his return to competition at English Open in May where he finished silver.
Competition starts at 0800 UK time on each day with live coverage via eju.net. Find the full draw on ippon.org and follow @BritishJudo on Twitter for medal updates throughout the weekend.