An eight-strong British team will take to the mat at the 2017 Paris Grand Slam on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 February at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris.
The Paris Grand Slam is one of the highlights of the international judo calendar with up to 1000 world ranking points available to gold medallists and will see a number of the world’s best judoka in action.
To date only five British judoka have won the Paris Grand Slam: Karen Briggs and Sharon Rendle in 1992; Nigel Donohue in 1993; Kate Howey in 1997 and Craig Fallon in 2003.
Paris will also mark the return of Rio 2016 Olympians Alice Schlesinger, Natalie Powell and Ashley McKenzie to international competition for the first time since the Olympic Games last summer.
Powell, who ended 2016 with gold at the British Championships, won bronze at last year’s Paris tournament beating fellow GB judoka Gemma Gibbons in the medal contest.
A number of younger athletes have also been selected with Lucy Renshall, Jemima Yeats-Brown and Max Stewart making their Paris Grand Slam debuts off the back of impressive 2016s which saw each of them move into the top 35 in the world.
Kelly Edwards, who took an enforced break from judo as a result of a concussion picked up at last year’s Paris Grand Slam, will be looking to continue her good run of form which saw her medal at six competitions in a row at the end of 2016.
Philip Awiti-Alcaraz completes the line-up with the Londoner having won his first Grand Prix and Grand Slam medals last year.
Rio 2016 bronze medallist Sally Conway will not be competing in Paris having only recently returned to full training on the mat. Conway will build-up her return to full competition through an agreed individual programme with the GB Performance team.
British Judo Performance Director Nigel Donohue said:
“The Paris Grand Slam is one of the most prestigious events in world judo and will be a great way to kick-off 2017. We have targeted Paris as one of our key, milestone events in this cycle as part of our strategy in building a team for Tokyo 2020.
“We know it’ll be a strong field taking to the mat with many of the world’s best judoka, including Rio medallists, competing for the first time since the Games and it will be a good challenge for our players.
“It will be great to see three of our Rio Olympians in action again with Natalie Powell having won a Paris medal in 2016 on her route to a seventh place at the Games last year. I’m also looking forward to seeing how some of our younger judoka perform when they step on the mat including Max Stewart who returned from a serious knee injury to finish 2016 inside the world’s top 25 at -90kg.
“Of course it would have been good to see our Rio bronze medallist, Sally Conway compete in Paris however it was agreed between Sally and the World-Class Performance Programme to build-up her return to full competition this year especially as she has only recently come back to full randori.”
British squad for 2017 Paris Grand Slam, 11-12 February:
|-52kg||Kelly Edwards||Wrekin Star|
|-90kg||Max Stewart||Stewart Judo Academy|
Photo above of Natalie Powell on the medal rostrum at the 2016 Paris Grand Slam. Photo credit: International Judo Federation (IJF)