In three weeks’ the IJF World Tour will open the doors for the next 300 days of action in judo. From Odivelas in Portugal and the Grand Slam in Baku in November there will be plenty of action and new stars are born.
The popular website JudoInside presents potential winners in the IJF World Tour.
Although these is a huge line-up of Russian men U100kg who want to reach the Paris Olympic Games, youngster Matvey Kanikovskiy is one of the young men to watch this season. Due to the competition it would well be that the next Olympic Champion U100kg comes from Russia. Kanikovskiy became the Junior European Champion in 2021 and he was in the final of the Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi. He took medals as a cadet and junior at the European Cups at the most competitive tournaments. Also he captured a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships in 2021 in Olbia. Babyface Kanikovskiy is definitely an asset in the talented Russian team.
Fighting in the same category as Kanikovsky, Georgian Ilia Sulamanidze is even further. Not only he is the Junior world Champion of this year but he also took bronze at the 2021 senior World Championships. Ilia is a gifted athlete and was awarded recently in the IJF Awards as rising star of 2021. Ilia also captured the European U23 title in Budapest in 2021. You could see coming from far as he claimed a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018 in Buenos Aires and as a youngster he won European gold with the Georgian cadet team. Sulamanidze stepped all stones and is ready for big prizes.
Another top talent comes from Hungary. Richard Sipocz is already at the top, but now he is estimated to harvest in the post-Olympic period. Although he didn’t finish in the best eight of the World Championships in his country, he is definitely the man to watch for upsets in this category. Sipocz claimed the European U23 title and was double Junior European champion in 2020 and 2021. He took all the medals in the cadet and junior divisions and his career can be compared to the young Lukas Krpalek with different physics though. We count on Sipocz to take a few senior medals this season and book a straight ticket for Paris in a few years.
Romain Valadier Picard
French lightweight Romain Valadier Picard will aim for some medals at senior level this season. Romain became the Junior European Champion in 2021. He captured a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships in 2021 in Olbia. Also he walked through all age categories and was number 1 of the IJF World Ranking for cadets U50kg in 2019 and juniors in 2011. He claimed a silver medal at the Cadet World Championships in Almaty in 2019. Last year he bagged a bronze medal at the Grand Slam in Paris. With the current competition in his country, Romain Valadier Picard is definitely a man to watch U60g.
Quite a few heavy men though in this list with Japanese heavyweight Tatsuru Saito as one of the super talents. Although there is a huge competition in the prestigious category in Japan, Saito won the 2018 Junior world title in Nassau at the Bahamas. He showed his face at the European Cup U21 St Petersburg in 2018 and at junior tournaments such as in Aix-en-Provence where talents from Japan usually snatch the medals. He bagged a gold medal at the Grand Slam in Baku in 2021 as first international milestone, but the way he did it was even more impressive. He won’t always get the chances on these international meetings, so we will rarely see him, but he will for sure develop even further.