July 23, 2016




23 Jul 2016 09:00


A dynamic category at the Olympic Games is the men's U66kg with real heroes will in action at 7 August. The previous edition delivered a huge surprise with a European final between teenager Lash Shavdatuashvili and Miki Ungvari. The Georgian won and earned his dollars and stepped up later to U73kg just like Ungvari. One man is still there.

One Olympic medal doesn’t count in Japan, even three world titles don’t count if you cannot add an Olympic title. So there is a lot of pressure on number one favourite Masashi Ebinuma of Japan. However World Champion An Ba-Ul of Korea cannot be wiped out for a favourite role in Rio.

An Ba-Ul of Korea became World Champion in 2015 in Astana U66kg. An also won the World Junior title in 2013 in Ljubljana and won silver in 2011. He won the Universiade in 2015. Won World bronze with the Korean team in 2014 In 2015 he won in Abu Dhabi and Grand Prix Düsseldorf and IJF Masters in 2016.

Masashi Ebinuma is triple World Champion U66kg. He won the titles in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Ultimate stylist and former #1 of the world ranking. Ebinuma won silver at the 2012 Olympic Games. He won the Grand Slam in Paris in 2016 and the Grand Prix Dusseldorf in 2015, Grand Prix Abu Dhabi and Grand Slam in Tokyo.

Mongolian judoka Davaadorj Tumurkhuleg won various events such as the Grand Prix in 2015 in Mongolia. Davaadorj took the world #1 position U66kg and was double medallist at World Junior Championships. Davaadorj won the Asian Games in 2014 in Incheon. He won the Grand Slam of Paris in 2015.

Russian stylist Mikhail Pulyaev was World #1 U66kg and silver medal winner at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. He lost the world finals against Ebinuma and An. Pulyaev won two European medals. He is coached by Vitaly Makarov and Dmitry Morozov, Pulyaev won the Grand Slam of Baku in 2016.

Georgii Zantaraia is a phenomenal judoka who won the world title U60kg in 2009 in Rotterdam. The Ukrainian judoka won 5 World Championships medals in a row and took the European title in 2011 in Istanbul. Zantaraia is extremely skilled. He stepped up to U66kg in 2012. Was born in Georgia and comes back from an injury and hasn’t been in the field a lot this year.

Golan Pollack from Israel won bronze at the 2015 World Championships in Astana as third man of Israel after Zeevi (2001) and Shay-Oren Smadja (1995). Pollack won the European Open in Sofia in 2014. Silver at Grand Slam Tokyo in 2014 and Grand Prix Düsseldorf in 2016.

Nijat Shikhalizada is the 2005 World bronze medallist as youngest man ever. Shikhalizada was 2006 junior World Champion and 2005 European junior Champion. Won Tournoi de Paris in 2007 and Grand Prix Abu Dhabi (2012) and Tbilisi (2014). In 2015 he won the Grand Slam of Baku and Grand Prix in Qingdao.

Vazha Margvelashvili of Georgia won bronze at the Grand Prix Düsseldorf in 2015 and 2016 U66kg. Margvelashvili he won the ECC Golden League in Vienna in 2015. In 2016 she started with bronze at African Open in Tunis and Grand Prixs in Havana and Düsseldorf. He took gold at the Grand Prix in Tbilisi.


Legendary Rishod Sobirov of Uzbekistan was the absolute favourite for the Olympic title U60kg four years ago. Sobirov won two world titles in the category U60kg in 2010 and 2011 and bronze in 2015 U66kg. Sobirov was 2008 and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist. Later he stepped up to U66kg and still won international events. Fights at both sides and has a good uchi-mata.

Sebastian Seidl (GER) won European bronze at the European Games in 2015. He was in three international finals in a row in 2015. He is multiple German champion and successful athlete for TSV Abensberg and one of the three of his club at the Olympic Games. He won three top international medals in a row in 2015. Seidl finished seventh at the World Championships. Obviously also Colin Oates (GBR), Sugoi Uriarte (ESP) and Dzmitry Shershan (BLR) can force a few surprises along with home player Charles Chibana or perhaps Basile, Oleinic, Bouchard, le Blouch, Smagulov. It will be a spectular weight category.

Seeded athletes paired

An with Marghvelashvili

Ebinuma with Zantaraia

Davaadorj with Shikhalizada

Pulyaev with Pollack

Previous Olympic Champions & Judo Photos Unlimited (