Mikhail Igolnikov will be fighting for the European title on Sunday in his U90kg category. The reigning European Champion is keen on prolonging the title but since his fifth place at the IJF World Masters it’s a bit silent. Usually he always comes back strongly from a period of silence.
Whilst having a quiet year on the IJF circuit in 2019, Mikhail Igolnikov has only lost once this year, in the Dusseldorf Grand Slam, where the Russian went on to take the Bronze medal in that event. His other outing being at the teams event at the World Championships, where he won his two matches helping Russia take the Bronze medal.
The Lieutenant in the Russian Special Forces may be a potential medallist in Tokyo, hoping to emulate fellow Circassians Vladimir Nevzorov, and Beslan Mudranov who took Gold at half middleweight in the 1976 Games in Montreal, and Gold in Rio 2016 at -60kg respectively, he looks a shoo-in for selection and not many who have followed his progression since Cadet level, would bet against him.
Mikhail Igolnikov was born on October 15, 1996 in the city of Tuapse in the Krasnodar region of Russia, though If you ask him, he proudly identifies himself as Adyghean, a Circassian enclave in the North Caucasus, the land of his forebears. A pupil of the Tuapse School of Judo, he trained under the guidance of Dzhanbolet Naguchev.
Igolnikovs transition to senior was as expected, for anyone who had followed his illustrious youth career. In 2018 he won the Senior European Championships in Tel Aviv, beating then current Senior World Champion, Nemanja Majdov in the Final, he added the Dusseldorf Grand Slam title, and the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam and helped his team to third place in the World Team Championships in Baku.
His judo style is sublime, like a watch maker, timing, precision and balance personified. He has uncanny anticipation and great counter attacks.
In what is the most stacked division on the current roster, wins are never assured and in a sport as capricious as judo, there are no dead certs.
As the seeded players await the third day in Lisbon and Igolnikov is in the same bracket as Dutch world champion Noel van ‘t End. They are 1-1 in head2head. Never discount Mikhail Igolnikov, for you can guarantee, none of his opponents are.