Women's 52kg and 57kg, Men's 73kg World Championship Preview

Aug. 26, 2009, 3:17 p.m. (ET)

(Rotterdam, Netherlands) - Competition will continue at the Senior World Championships on Thursday 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 52kg

 Seventeen-year-old Kayla Chappell (Oklahoma City, Okla. / USA Stars) placed fifth during her first U.S. Team appearance at the 2009 Pan American Championships and will be competing on her first Senior World Championship Team. 

Chappell drew a first-round bye and then will face the winner of a match between Hanane Kerroumi (MAR) and Nadia Bravo (ARG).  Should Chappell win, she would face the winner of a second round match between five-time Pan Am medalist Maria Garcia (DOM) and 2008 European silver medalist Romy Tarangul (GER)

With Yanet Bermoy (CUB), a 2005 World Champion and 2008 Olympic silver medalist at 48kg, as the only World medalist in the draw, this division is open for newcomers, but watch out for a second round match between Bermoy and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Ilse Heylen

On the opposite side of the draw, Misato Nakamura (JPN) is the favorite to advance to the finals.  Nakamura was one of the youngest medalists in Beijing where she won a bronze at 19-years-old and has continued her success with a bronze medal at the Paris Grand Slam and titles at the Moscow Grand Slam and Hamburg Grand Prix events. 

Women's 57kg

Marti Malloy (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) moved up to 63kg in 2007 where she was one of the surprises of the Worlds in Rio de Janeiro with her ninth-place finish.  In a new system where one must advance to the quarter-finals to be eligible to fight for bronze, Malloy will have little room for error in her opening match against seven-time World Cup medalist Marlen Hein (GER).  A win against Hein would move Malloy into the second round against Nora Gjakova (KUW).

On the top of Malloy's pool is a second-round match between two players who would otherwise both be medal favorites.  Kaori Matsumoto (JPN) is the #2-ranked player in the world after winning medals at Hamburg Grand Prix and Moscow and Paris Grand Slams earlier this year.  A long-time 63kg player, 31-year-old Sarah Clark (GBR) hasn't fought extensively on the World Tour this year, but she did place second at the European Championships behind top seed Telma Monteiro (POR), an 18-time World Cup medalist who moved up from 52kg.  Monteiro is on the opposite side of the draw from Matsumoto who won two of their three meetings on the World Tour this spring. 

When the favorites started falling at the Beijing Olympic Games, it was newcomer Giulia Quintavalle (ITA) who seemed to come from nowhere to win the gold.  This time, though, Quintavalle enters the Worlds unseeded with only a pair of fifth-place World Cup finishes to her credit and, therefore, is expected to face Monteiro in the second round. 

In a division that's up in the air, several of the "old guard" remain in positions to challenge for another World medal to add to their resumes.

Sabrina Filzmoser (AUT), a 2005 World medalist, medalled twice on the World Tour this season, but fell short of the podium at the European Championships where she placed seventh.  If she fights well, though, she could be in the position to advance to the semifinals.

In the bottom pool of the draw, Deborah Gravenstijn (NED) lost to Quintavalle in the finals of the Beijing Olympic Games, but the two-time World and Olympic medalist is literally one of the poster children of the World Championships and the 35-year-old would love nothing more than to finally win gold in front of a home crowd. Yurisleidys Lupetey (CUB), who won her World title in 2001 at the age of 20, could meet Gravenstijn in the third round.  Lupetey hasn't competed extensively this year, but has a style that can perplex her opponents.

Men's 73kg

Michael Eldred (Fruitland, Idaho / Western Idaho Judo Institute) qualified for his first World Team earlier this year, but made an impressive debut earlier this season when he won bronze at the Pan American Championships. 

With 63 competitors, Eldred's division is the largest of the tournament and he will need three match wins to advance to the quarter-finals where he could face two-time Olympic medalist Leandro Guilheiro (BRA).  But first, Eldred must get past 2007 Asian Champion Chol-Su Kim (PRK) in his opening match.  The winner would then face either Kyle Maxwell (BAR) or Alexos Lazarou (CYP).  

Although he is the #2 seed, Ki-Chun Wang (KOR) has been nearly unstoppable since placing second at the Beijing Olympics as a 20-year-old, winning the Kano Cup Grand Prix in December as well as the Moscow and Paris Grand Slams earlier this year.  The reigning World Champion, Wang is favored to win his second World title before his twenty-first birthday.

On the opposite side of the draw from Wang is top seed Dirk Van Tichelt (BEL) who has placed at two Grand Slams and two Grand Prix events this season, but lost his only match this year to Wang at the Moscow Grand Slam final in May.