The top judokas from around the planet will take to the mats in the Maracanãzinho gymnasium on the 18th and 19th of June. That’s where the hotly-disputed Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam, a leg of the Judo World Circuit, will take place, and points from the tourney will count in defining who will represent their countries at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. And with a record number of participants: 412 from 58 countries. In 2010 – the second installment held in Rio – there were 360 athletes from 50 nations.
“Besides Brazil having consolidated its place in the international scene as a venue for excellent events, the fact the Grand Slam is worth 100% points for London-2012 certainly enticed more athletes into taking part in the competition,” says president of the Brazilian Judo Confederation Paulo Wanderley Teixeira.
According to the International Judo Federation ranking system, established during the 2009-2010 season (from May to April), the points scored in competitions during that year lose 75% of their worth by the time the April 30, 2012 Olympic roster is completed.
Points from 2010-2011 will be worth 50% of the total and, starting in May 2011 and ending in April 2012, the points will count for 100%. Therein lies the importance of the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam. Counting in the world ranking are points acquired at the World Championships, Masters (Top 16), Grand Slam, Grand Prix and World Cup.
“For Brazil, fighting well at home will be all the more important. We have to make good for our hometown crowd,” states Brazilian confederation technical coordinator Ney Wilson, citing the examples of France, Russia and Japan, other countries hosting Grand Slams, where they made the most of the events to come up with precious points and medals. For being host, Brazil can count on four judokas in each of the 14 divisions in dispute. In 2010, the national team conquered six medals at the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam.
The Brazilian team arrives in Rio on June 13, and will train there until the competition’s opening day, the following Saturday. From the 20th to the 24th of June, an International Training Camp will be held, with Brazil participating alongside a large part of the countries signed up for the Grand Slam. The group training session will take place in Rio. On the weekend of the 25th and 26th of June it will be time for the São Paulo World Cup, which is also worth points for London-2012.
Judo and Jiu-Jitsu black belt Leonardo Leite summed up what kind of marathon the athlete’s are in for, via Twitter: “It’s about to start, there’ll be six competitions in seven weekends.”