By Gary Anderson

October 3 - Officials attending the draw for the inaugural Tashkent Grand Prix in the Uzbekistan Sports ComplexThe third stop on the International Judo Federation (IJF) World Judo Tour since the World Championships in Rio de Janeiro sees the inaugural Tashkent Grand Prix take place in the Uzbekistan Sports Complex, starting tomorrow.

The event in the Uzbek capital has attracted 155 competitors from 21 countries who will do battle across seven men's and seven women's weight categories over the three days of action.

Following the official draw for the competition, President of the Uzbekistan Judo Federation (UJF) and IJF sports director, Armen Bagdasarov welcomed judo officials and fans to Tashkent for the event.

"In the name of the Uzbek Judo Federation, I am very happy to welcome you in Tashkent for this first Judo Grand Prix in Uzbekistan ever," he said.

"We did our best to deliver a very good Grand Prix to all delegations and officials.

"It is a great challenge for our federation and we do hope that all nations will enjoy their stay in our beautiful country.

"I wish you all good luck and a very good competition."

UJF President Armen Bagdasarov (centre, back row) attends a judo clinic in Tashkent ahead of the Tashkent Grand PrixUJF President Armen Bagdasarov (centre, back row) attends a judo clinic in Tashkent ahead of the Tashkent Grand Prix

The tatami action which gets underway tomorrow, promises to provide plenty of excitement for the fans inside the Uzbekistan Sports Complex.

Last year's Tashkent World Cup winner Nodira Gulova and Uzbekistan's national under-20 champion Kristina Kovaleva will be looking to give the home crowd plenty to shout about in the women's under 48 kilogrammes class while in the under 52kg category Belgium's Ilse Heylen and Raquel Silva of Brazil could be set to meet in the final for the second week in-a-row, following Heylen's win in Almaty last weekend.

Another Brazilian, Ketleyn Quadros will also be out to build on her success last weekend in the under 57kg class and she is also likely to face her biggest threat from the woman she defeated in the Almaty final, Camila Minakawa of Israel.

The under 63kg class represents further medal opportunities for Brazilian judoka, in the form of Almaty Grand Prix rivals Mariana Silva and Mariana Barros, with the America's Hannah Martin also expected to be a threat, while Nadia Merli and Barbara Timo will be looking to continue the samba beat in the under 70kg class.

Home favourite Iroda Matmuratova will be up against Kazakhstani athletes Anar Seitimova and Albina Amangeldiyeva in the under 78kg category where America's Samantha Bleier is expected to be in and around the medals.

In the final women's category, Saneayim Erkinbaeva and Anargul Uteeva of Uzbekistan will be up against last week's champion Gulzhan Issanova of Kazakhstan, Mongolia's Javzmaa Odkhuu and America's Anna Atkinson.

The Uzbekistan Sports Complex will play host to 155 judoka from 21 countriesThe Uzbekistan Sports Complex will play host to 155 judoka from 21 countries

Meanwhile there are some interesting match-ups in the men's competitions starting off in the under 60kg class where Mongolian Kherlen Ganbold will face stiff resistance from American champion Aaron Kunihiro and Brazilian Diego Santos.

Mirzahid Farmonov is one of the biggest gold medal hopes for the host nation in the under 66kg division while Tsagaanbaatar Khashbaatar of Mongolia also carries the favourites tag in the under 73kg competition.

Uzbekistan will be hoping for another home gold in the under 81kg class in the form of Kazan 2013 silver medallist Yakhyo Imamov, who will have to overcome Amir Ghasemi Nejad of Iran, Mongolia's Uuganbaatar Otgonbaatar and American Travis Stevens.

Brazil's Eduardo Silva will face a tough battle to secure a medal in the under 90kg division as he comes up against three home fighters in the form of Dilshod Choriev, Sherali Juraev and Erkin Doniyorov.

Teammate Ramziddin Sayidov looks set for a battle royal with Brazil's Rafael Buzacarini, German Karl-Richard Frey and Enkhbat Erdenebileg of Mongolia in the under 100kg category while the heaviest weight division sees Brazilian David Moura as top seed, who will have to overcome Russia's Andrey Volkov and Adiljon Tulendibaev of Uzbekistan to claim top honours.

To watch the latest action on JudoTV click here.

Top two photos © IJF Media Team by Tamas Zahonyi

Contact the writer of this story [email protected]

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