The International Judo Federation (IJF) World Tour returns this weekend as Turkey prepares to host the judo family at the second edition of the Antalya Grand Slam.
With just three months remaining before the start of the 2024 Olympic qualification period, fighters are battling for important points to secure a position as high as possible in the world rankings.
An 18-strong GB Judo team, 6 of whom make their Grand Slam debuts, have travelled to the shores of the Mediterranean to secure valuable world qualification points and stake a claim to be considered for the upcoming European Championships.
There is a strong European line up in the -52kg category with the top 6 seeded positions all being held by fighters from European nations, including our very own Chelsie Giles. The Olympic bronze medallist and world number 3 is seeded 2nd and, following an opening round bye, will face either Kelly Deguchi (CAN) or 2021 Antalya Grand Slam silver medallist Estrella Lopez-Sheriff (ESP).
Giles will be joined by 2021 British Champion, Chloe Robyns-Landricombe who makes her Grand Slam debut. Robyns-Landricombe also has an opening round bye and will face 8th seed and 4x Grand Slam bronze medallist, Khorloodoi Bishrelt (MGL) in Round 2.
Three-time Olympian, Ashley McKenzie, last competed in Antalya in 2019, back when it was a Grand Prix. McKenzie claimed bronze on that occasion in a year that eventually saw him finish 7th at the IJF Masters.
Drawn in Pool D, McKenzie will face Ryan Conceicao (BRA) in the opening round.
Toprak has enjoyed a great recent run of form, placing or medalling at all but one of her competitions since September. Toprak finished the 2021 season with a 5th place finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, in what was only her 3rd Grand Slam appearance. Toprak has been drawn against 5th seed, and recent Tel Aviv Grand Slam bronze medallist, Timna Nelson-Levy (ISR) in Round 2, following an opening round bye.
Nairne meanwhile makes her Grand Slam debut. The 2019 World Championship representative competes internationally for the first time since October where she placed 5th at the Malaga European Open.
With aspirations of representing Wales at this summer’s Commonwealth Games, Gregg Varey returns to the location of his highest Grand Slam finish. In 2021 Varey finished 7th at the Antalya Grand Slam. Drawn in Pool D, Varey has an opening round contest against current Asia-Oceania Junior Championship bronze medallist Abubakr Sherov (TJK).
2021 British Champion, Varey, will be joined by Judo Scotland’s Alexander Short. Short, who is making his Grand Slam debut has been drawn against the current World Championship silver medallist Gusman Kyrgyzbayev (KAZ).
Lucy Renshall (featured image) has rocketed up the world rankings following the Tokyo Olympic Games and now finds herself ranked number 2 in the world.
Heading to Antalya as the number 1 seed following back-to-back Grand Slam gold medals in Baku and Abu Dhabi in November, Renshall has an opening round bye and will have a familiar opponent in Round 2 as she faces Panamerican Championship silver medallist Prisca Awiti-Alcaraz (MEX).
Kelly Petersen-Pollard continues to impress in the senior ranks having progressed from the Junior category in 2019. The 22yr old has already made three Grand Slam podiums, results that now see her ranked 10th in the world.
Seeded 3rd, Petersen-Pollard will face Grand Slam debutant Ssu-Tzu Chang (TPE) in Round 2, following an opening round bye.
Jemima Yeats-Brown is no stranger to the Grand Slam circuit having made her debut back in 2016 with a bronze medal in Abu Dhabi. Having recently stepped back down to the -70kg category, Yeats-Brown had a great end to the 2021 season and started the 2022 season in similar fashion with a 7th place finish at the Portugal Grand Prix.
Yeats-Brown also has an opening round bye and will face 8th seed, and 7x Grand Slam bronze medallist, Elvismar Rodriguez (VEN) in Round 2.
Following two 5th placed finishes at the Warsaw and Prague European Open’s, Daniel Powell makes the step up to the IJF World Tour to compete at his 5th Grand Slam event.
Powell faces Turpal Djoukaev (FIN) in his opening round contest in Pool C.
There is a welcome return to the Grand Slam stage for Stuart McWatt who finished 5th at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam in February 2021. Unfortunately, an injury sustained in the bronze medal contest ended his season and any dream of Tokyo Olympic qualification.
McWatt will face 2x Grand Slam bronze medallist Francois Gauthier-Drapeau (CAN) in the opening round.
Emma Reid is another fighter who has had a fantastic last 12months. Making her Grand Slam in Tbilisi exactly 1 year ago, she has gone on to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and finished 5th in Paris. These results now see her ranked 13th in the world rankings.
Seeded 6th, Reid has an opening round bye and will face either Sandra Lickun (POL) or Asia-Oceania Junior Championship Champion, Iriskhon Kurbanbaeva (UZB) in Round 2.
Natalie Powell makes her 23rd Grand Slam appearance in Antalya in what will be her first competition of the year, following a bronze medal at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam back in November.
Powell has been drawn in Pool A and will face Semanur Erdogan (TUR) in the opening round who has recently stepped up from the -70kg category.
2021 Dubrovnik European Cup champion, Jamal Petgrave competes at his first Grand Slam of the year. Petgrave, who has placed 7th on two occasions on the Grand Prix stage, has been drawn against Can Guzel (TUR) in Round 1.
Max Gregory and Rhys Thompson are also making their IJF World Tour debuts. Following some impressive recent performances at the Sarajevo and Malaga European Opens, and Dubrovnik European Cup, where he won bronze, Gregory has been drawn against Kostadin Tsvetanov (BUL) in Round 2, following an opening round bye.
Rhys Thompson picked up GB Judo’s first medal of 2022 when he claimed bronze at the Sarajevo European Open in February. This was followed up with a 7th place finish at the Prague European Open. Drawn in Pool A, Thompson has an opening round bye and will await the victor of the opening round contest between Karl-Richard Frey (GER), who finished 7th at the Tokyo Olympic Games, and Koffi-Kreme Kobena (CIV).
Preliminary Round action starts at 07:00am on Friday and Saturday and 07:30am Sunday.
Final Block is scheduled to commence at 15:00 on each day.
You can watch all the action from the Antalya Grand Slam LIVE on the British Judo homepage each day.