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Pictured Tomomi Okamura, last week's winner in Oberwart expected to compete in Düsseldorf
The first IJF Grand Prix of this year will be held in Düsseldorf. Last year Japan dominated with 6 gold medals. This year the number of participants is going through the roof with a record of 500 judoka of 68 countries. At the Philips Halle 300 men and 195 women will be present with 50 participants in the U81 and U90kg division.
Among the entries are eight Olympic champions – five of Beijing 2008 and three of Athens 2004 – and 18 World champions of the past years, plus ten European champions of the last continental event in Vienna 2010.
The judo stronghold Japan alone will be represented by nine World champions, among others the 2010 double World champion Mika Sugimoto, and Keiji Suzuki, the 2004 Olympic and 2005 World champion.
Olympic champion Ole Bischof, World silver medallist Andreas Toelzer and Heide Wollert, last year’s winner in Dusseldorf, head the team of 49 athletes – 26 women and 23 men – nominated by the German Judo Federation, DJB. German judoka won two gold and three bronze medals in Dusseldorf last year. “The Grand Prix in Dusseldorf is a good opportunity for the athletes to gain points towards the Olympic qualification for London 2012 in front of a home crowd”, said DJB Sports Director Manfred Birod to the organisation.
The Judo Grand Prix Dusseldorf 2011 is the first of altogether five events of the Grand Prix series of the International Judo Federation, IJF. Dusseldorf will be followed by Baku in Azerbaijan (May 6-8), Abu Dhabi (October 16-18), Rotterdam (November 25-27) and Qingdao in China (December 17-18). The five organisers have each put up prize money of at least 100,000 US Dollar.
Before Düsseldorf the event was held in Hamburg for 7 years, Rüsselsheim, Wuppertal and Munich. A variety of 38 countries gave legendary winners such as the Cuban women: Driulis Gonzalez (7 wins), Legna Verdecia (5 wins), Amarilis Savón (5 wins) as well as triple male winners: Tamerlan Tmenov, Yasuyuki Muneta and Ludwig Paischer. Of 38 winning countries Japan was the most successful with 54 wins in Germany, followed by Korea (36), Cuba (35) and host Germany (32). Germany is way stronger in the men’s division with 22 victories, while the women (10 wins) are much more dominant over the last couple of years.