The next stop for the International Judo Federation World Tour will be the United Arab Emirates (UAE), writes Donna Richardson.
Great Britain has fielded a strong team of Olympians and Commonwealth medallists at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, taking place between Friday 31 October and Sunday 2 November.
The tournament carries 500 world ranking points for a gold medal; 300 for a silver and 200 for bronze. There are also attractive points for placings and these points will help players climb the world ranking list and ultimately position themselves with a good chance of qualifying for Rio in 2016.
Natalie Powell (-78kg), who won silver medals at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix events in 2012 and 2013, is looking to add a third silver at this year’s event in the same country which this time happens to be a Grand Slam. A gold would surpass her best result to date in Astana a few weeks back.
Natalie said: “I am really looking forward to competing in Abu Dhabi. This is the first time it’s been a Grand Slam so there’s more points on offer. I’ve had a good couple of results in my last competitions, so I am hoping to keep the momentum going.”
Astana bronze medallist Nekoda Davis (-57kg) is also looking to follow up her recent heroics in Kazakhstan.
Sally Conway, Megan Fletcher (both -70kg), Sarah Adlington (+78kg), Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) and Colin Oates (-66kg) will all be looking to secure world ranking points to set them on the path to Rio.
Self-funding at the competition are Louise Renicks (-52kg), Stephanie Inglis (-52kg), Jodie Mullen (-63kg), Nathon Burns (-66kg), Owen Livesey (-81kg) and Gary Hall (-90kg).
Interim lead men’s coach for Great Britain Jean-Paul Bell and GB lead women’s coach Kate Howey (MBE) will be leading the team into battle.
Jean Paul-Bell said: “The GB team are looking forward to the UAE Grand Slam and they took part in a light session ahead of the tournament in the arena. The team fielded is a strong blend of experience and youth and they are up for the event and the Olympic qualification points on offer.”
Friday 31 October sees a busy mat with six British fighters in action: Ashley McKenzie (-60kg), Colin Oates (-66kg), Nathon Burns (-66kg) Louise Renicks (-52kg), Nekoda Davis (-57kg) and Stephanie Inglis (-57kg).
On Saturday 1 November: Sally Conway and Megan Fletcher (-70kg), Owen Livesey (-81kg) plus Jodie Mullen will fly the flag for Great Britain.
On Sunday 2 November Natalie Powell (-78kg) and Sarah Adlington (+78kg) will both take to the mat along with Gary Hall (-90kg).
Follow all the action live at ippon.tv
Action begins at 7am GMT, 11am UAE (+4 hours)
Images by Mike Varey.