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Mar 07 Men's 60kg and 66kg, Women's 48kg World Championship Preview

Aug. 25, 2009, 10:01 a.m. (ET)

(Rotterdam, Netherlands) - Competition will begin at the Senior World Championships on Wednesday in Rotterdam with three men's and women's lightweight divisions. 

Below is a preview of each of the divisions.  Competition begins with preliminary rounds at 9:30 a.m. local time and finals at 2 p.m. 

Women's 48kg 

Fifteen-year-old Katelyn Bouyssou (Hope, R.I. / NYAC / Mayo Quanchi Judo Club) took to winning early and often when she began amassing a collection of junior national titles at just nine-years-old, but her senior level success had a jump start when she qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the 48kg division at just 13-years-old and now the high school sophomore has become the youngest U.S. player to qualify for a Senior World Team.  In fact, Bouyssou is expected to be the youngest competitor from any nation at the World Championships and likely the only player to have also fought at the Cadet World Championships for players under 17 two weeks ago in Budapest, Hungary where she placed fifth. 

Although Bouyssou's youth may put her at a perceived disadvantage, 48kg is a division that has had many future champions break through as teenagers, including 2008 Olympic silver medalist Yanet Bermoy (CUB) who won the Senior Worlds at 18-years-old; four-time World Champion Sun-Hui Kye (PRK) who won the 1996 Olympic Games at 16-years-old; and seven-time World Champion Ryoko Tani (JPN) who won an Olympic silver medal at the age of 17 in 1992.   

The top eight seeds in the division are expected to be as follows:

1. Frederique Jossinet (FRA)
2. Tomoko Fukumi (JPN)
3. Sarah Menezes (BRA)
4. Jung-Yeon Chung (KOR)
5. Chahinez Mbarki (TUN)
6. Paula Pareto (ARG)
7. Eva Csernoviczki (HUN)
8. Michaela Baschin (GER)

A three-time World medalist, 33-year-old Frederique Jossinet (FRA) is the top seed in the division, but has never won a World or Olympic title, winning silver medals at the 2003 and 2005 Worlds as well as the 2004 Olympic Games.  With Tani taking the year off and 2005 World Champion Bermoy fighting up to 52kg, this could be Jossinet's year.  As always in judo, the draw will play a crucial factor in Jossinet's success as 2008 Olympic Champion Alina Dumitru (ROU) will come into the event unseeded.  Jossinet and Dumitru last fought at the 2009 Hamburg Grand Prix where Dumitru won their semifinal match. 

Courtesy of Tani, Japan has held a tight grip on this division at the World Championship level and Tomoko Fukumi (JPN) is a worthy successor after going nearly undefeated in major events this year, dropping only one match to her teammate Emi Yamagishi at the Paris Grand Slam in February and winning three Grand Slam or Grand Prix medals over all. 

Men's 60kg 

Aaron Kunihiro (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) will compete in the 60kg division.  Like all three U.S. players fighting on Wednesday, Kunihiro is a first-time Senior World Team member, but he has placed in major international events this year with a bronze medal win at the Pan American Championships in March and a fifth-place finish at the Brazil Grand Slam in July.

The top eight seeds in the division are expected to be as follows:

1. Ludwig Paischer (AUT)
2. Rishod Sobirov (UZB)
3. Arsen Galstyan (RUS)
4. Hovhannes Davtyan (ARM)
5. Hiroaki Hiraoka (JPN)
6. Dimitri Dragin (FRA)
7. Yasmani Piker (CUB)
8. Georgiy Zantaraya (UKR)

A silver medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games, Paischer is the top seed in the division, but his loss in the finals in Beijing came to Min-Ho Choi (KOR) who hasn't competed in a major event this year and will come into the draw unseeded.  

Reigning World Champion Ruben Houkes (NED), who won bronze in Beijing after a loss to Choi, will be competing in front of a home crowd and should do well in Rotterdam, although a fifth-place finisher at the European Championships earlier this year has left him out of the seedings.  

One of Houkes' losses at the European Championships came to #3 seed Arsen Galstyan (RUS) while another was at the hands of unseeded Nestor Khergiani (GEO) who he beat in the finals of the 2007 World Championships.  Also watch for Hiroaki Hiraoka (JPN), a fifth-seed at the Worlds who many expected to medal in Beijing until a first-round surprise loss to Taraje Williams-Murray (Bronx, N.Y. / NYAC / Spartak Sports Club) knocked him out of the Games.

Men's 66kg

Twenty-two-year-old Jeff Fong (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) never would have known that his silver medal finish at the U.S. Open in 2008 would catapult him onto Team USA as the #1-ranked 66kg player in the United States, but indeed Fong intends on making the most of his first World Team experience.  Fong competed at the 2009 Pan American Championships for the first time in March and, although he has not fought on the World Tour, Fong did spend nearly a month training in Japan this summer which hopefully has prepared him for his experience this week.

The top eight seeds in the division are expected to be as follows:

1. Hashbaatar Tsagaanbaatar (MGL)
2. Miklos Ungvari (HUN)
3. Sugoi Uriarte (ESP)
4. Alim Gadanov (RUS)
5. Masato Uchishiba (JPN)
6. Michal Popiel (CAN)
7. Jeong-Hwan An (KOR)
8. Sergiy Drebot (UKR)

This is a division with five Olympic medalists, including top-seed Hashbaatar Tsagaanbaatar (MGL) who won bronze in 2004 and two-time reigning Olympic Champion Masato Uchishiba (JPN) who will be a fifth-seed in the event.  Uchishiba hasn't lost a major match since dropping the finals of the 2008 Paris Super World Cup to Joo-Jin Kim (KOR) who will not be fighting this week.  

Beijing bronze medalists Benjamin Darbelet (FRA) and Chol-Min Pak are both ranked outside the top 10 and could pop up anywhere in the draw.  Jozef Krnac (SVK), a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, has been on and off the radar since 2004, but won a bronze medal at the Budapest World Cup and will be chasing his first world medal.  

Regardless of who wins this division, there are no former World Champions scheduled to fight and a first-time gold medalist will be crowned.

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