Wednesday, August 17, 2016

+78kg Overview

The heaviest women's category of +78kg also had the smallest number of participants at 17. The top gold medal prospects were Yu Song (CHN) and Idalys Ortiz (CUB) but Emilie Andeol (FRA) and Kanae Yamabe (JPN) were strong contenders too.

Pool A: Yu (CHN)
Yu started off impressively, throwing Sonia Asselah (ALG) with a massive harai-goshi for ippon. She had a harder time against Kayra Sayit (TUR) though. Up til the last 15 seconds of the match, both players were even with two shidos each when Yu struck with her trademark soto-makikomi which scored yuko. She then clamped on a pin that got her a waza-ari after which the Turkish player tapped out. So, within the last 15 seconds of the match, Yu scored yuko, waza-ari and ippon.

Pool B: Andeol (FRA)
Andeol had a really difficult time against Vanessa Zambotti (MEX) and only managed to win after the Mexican player flopped and dropped during Golden Score and got a shido for it. The clearly frustrated Andeol was seen crying as she got off the mat, even though she had won the match. And it wasn't tears of joy. Her second match of the day, against Nihel Cheikh Rahou (TUN) was hardly any better. It too went into Golden Score and as with the first match, was won by the French player after her opponent flopped and dropped, earning herself a shido. It had not been a good morning session for Andeol but she was through to the semi-finals.

Pool C: Ortiz (CUB)
Ortiz provided some excitement for the fans with a fantastic ura-nage throw for ippon against her first opponent, Ksenia Chibisova (RUS). Her second match, against Kim Minjeong (KOR) was just as exciting. She first threw her opponent with drop seoi-nage for yuko. Then she followed that up with a very gutsy yoko-guruma for waza-ari, and immediately clamped on a pin for waz-ari-awasatte-ippon. Thus far, she looked to be the most exciting prospect for gold thus far.

Pool D: Yamabe (JPN)
Yamabe had a difficult time against Santa Pakenyte (LTU) and was down by a shido when in the last minute she pulled out an osoto-gari that felled her much larger opponent for ippon. That brought her up against Tessie Savelkouls (NED), whom she threw with soto-makikomi for yuko and then harai-goshi for ippon.

Although Turkey's Sayit was smaller than Tunisia's Cheikh Rahou, it was the Turkish player who scored. She came in with a forward attack which prompted the Tunisian to initiate an ura-nage counter. Sayit then countered that ura-nage by taking Cheikh Rahou straight down, for a waza-ari and then pinned her for an ippon score.

In the other repercharge, Kim was down on penalties before she started attacking Savelkouls aggressively, throwing her twice with drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for yuko each time. Then she pinned the Dutch player with sankaku for ippon.

After a disappointing morning session, Andeol performed superbly in her semi-final throwing Yu for ippon. She had initiated a forward movement causing Yu to pull backwards. Andeol then did an ouchi-like movement and landed on top of her opponent for an ippon score.

In the second semi-final match, Ortiz showed off her throwing skills by throwing her Japanese opponent with a big hip throw which score yuko. A little bit more rotation could have easily given her an ippon. But this was enough to win her the match.

Yamabe scored early with a very low osoto-gari for waza-ari and then held on til the end of the match, accruing three shidos along the way. She had won Japan yet another bronze.

In the other bronze medal match, Yu used her favorite soto-makikomi to throw Kim for ippon.

There was no score in the Andeol vs Ortiz gold medal match during regular time, so it went into Golden Score. After nearly three minutes of no big action, Ortiz went for broke and tried to rotate Andeol with a yoko-guruma. The attack failed and Andeol clamped on a pin for ippon and a gold for France.

+100kg Overview

There were 31 players in this category but one man stood heads and shoulders above the rest (both figuratively and literally): Teddy Riner (FRA). Contenders who could give him a hard time include Roy Meyer (NED), Or Sasson (ISR) and Hisayoshi Harasawa (JPN). The Georgians had one player who qualified, who had given Riner a tough time in the IJF circuit: Levani Matishvili but another player who qualified, Adam Okruashvili, had been sent instead because he was higher ranking.

Pool A
Riner hardly broke a sweat fighting his first opponent, Mohammed Amine Tayeb (ALG), whom he took down for waza-ari and pinned for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon in less than a minute. His next opponent, home favorite Rafael Silva (BRA), fought like his main aim was to avoid getting thrown for ippon. At the end of five minutes, he was down by three shidos and a waza-ari. He must have been relieved it was not an ippon.

Pool B
Sasson (ISR), one of the very few heavyweights who can actually throw with morote-seoi-nage, used that technique twice on Islam El-Shehaby (EGY), scoring waza-ari and then ippon. After the match, Sasson walked over to El-Shehaby to shake his hand but the Egyptian backed off instead, to a chorus of boos for his unsportsmanlike conduct. El-Shehaby was later sent packing from Rio by the IOC's Disciplinary Committee for his bad behaviour. Next, Sasson threw Maciej Sarnacki (POL) with a drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for waza-ari. This brought him up against Roy Meyer (NED), who had done well beating Kim Sungmin (KOR) by throwing him with a dynamic sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi for yuko and later pinning him for ippon. He was no match against Sasson though, who threw him with a drop seoi-nage for waza-ari.

Pool C
Harasawa, the man most people think would give Riner the toughest fight, had a tough opening match, and had to rely on penalties for his win against Adam Okruashvili (GEO). He did better in his second match, against Ushangi Kokauri (AZE), whom he threw with ouchi-gari for ippon. Against Alex Garcia Mendoza (CUB), however, he again could not score and won by virtue of hansoku-make from the four shidos that Mendoza accumulated. Not a very impressive performance but still he was through to the semi-finals.

Pool D
The rising star in this pool is Iakiv Khammo (UKR) but as it turned, it was the veteran Abdullo Tangriev (UZB) -- who interestingly, had beaten Riner in the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- who made it to the top of the pool. Tangriev easily defeated his first opponent, Derek Sua (SAM), with uchimata for ippon. Then, he impressively threw Daniel Natea (ROU) with yoko-otoshi for waza-ari, followed by drop seoi-nage for ippon. That brought him up against Iurii Krakovetskii (KGZ), a big thrower who had earlier defeated Khammo, throwing him with a whirling sasae-tsuri-komi-goshi for waza-ari, pinning him for yuko and finally countering him with ura-nage for ippon. In his match with Tangriev, Krakovetskii scored first with uchimata for yuko. Tangriev then retaliated with a drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for ippon.

Silva's match against Meyer was not a particularly exciting one but the crowd was fully invested in the match as they wanted Brazil to get at least one more bronze before the day is through. And Silva survived the battle, winning through penalties. The crowd was ecstatic. 

The second repercharge match promised more excitement as it involved two throwers, Cuba's Garcia Mendoza and
Kyrgyzstan's Krakovetskii. The match could have gone either way but in the end it was Mendoza who scored the big ippon with an ouchi-gari that landed his big opponent flat on his back. 

The Riner-Sasson match was a truly exciting one, with the Israeli player coming close to scoring when he managed to drop underneath Riner and launch him into the air. Riner landed on his front though, so no score. With a shido each on the board, and the match looking like it was heading towards Golden Score, Riner struck with sumi-gaeshi that scored waza-ari in literally the last second of the match.

Harasawa's bout against Tangriev was not close to being evenly matched. Harasawa scored yuko with an uchimata into ouchi-gari combination and after that Tangriev went on the defensive to the point that he got four shidos and was given a hansoku-make.

Silva gave the crowd what it wanted when he defeated a tired Tangriev, who seemed to have expended all his energy in previous matches. The Brazilian was ahead on penalties when he scored a yuko through soto-makikomi in the last minute of the match, to ensure a safe victory. 

Both Sasson and Garcia Mendoza are throwers but in their bronze medal match, it was a battle of tactics and in the end, the Israeli won through penalties.


Riner's approach to fighting his biggest rivals has always to fight the prudent fight and go for the shido penalties rather than the big ippon. And so it was in his gold medal match against Harasawa. He gripped the Harasaw hard and forced him to incur two shidos before the Japanese began to grip back just as hard. At the end of five minutes the shido count was 2:1 in favor of Riner. He had won his second Olympic gold medal. It was through shido, just as it was at the 2012 London Olympics, but a win is a win.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

-78kg Overview

There were only 18 contestants in the Women's -78kg division but it had three very exciting fighters in the form of Kayla Harrison (USA), Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA) and home favorite Mayra Aguiar (BRA).

Pool A
Harrison, who is equally adept at standing and groundwork, won her first match, against Zhang Zehui (CHN) with a pin for ippon. She also used groundwork to beat Abigel Joo (HUN), also pinning her for ippon.

Pool B
Marhinde Verkerk (NED) was the top seed her but she lost to Yalennis Castillo (CUB) by penalty during a Golden Score that lasted for nearly seven minutes. That pitted Castillo against Anamari Velensek (SLO) who attacked her with a powerful armlock that had the Cuban's arm straightened. Castillo immediately protested that she had not tapped but slow motion replay showed that at one point, she did appear to have tapped on the mat a few times when her arm was outstretched.

Pool C
Tcheumeo didn't have an easy draw and had to face former world champion Sol Kyong (PRK) in the first round but Tcheumeo handily threw her with harai-goshi for ippon. That brought her up against Natalie Powell (GBR), also a tough opponent. She wasn't able to throw the Briton and in the end had to rely on penalties for the win.

Pool D
Home favorite Aguiar did really well in her first round match, against Miranda Giambelli (AUS), countering the Australian's footsweep for waza-ari and then pinning her for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. Her match against Louise Malzahn (GER) was a lot harder and in the end, got through on a penalty win.

Castillo did well to counter Joo's uchimata with a gutsy and well-time yoko-guruma that scored yuko, which was enough to win her the match and a chance to fight for bronze.

Malzahn's kosoto-gari counter against Powell's hip technique earned her an ippon and passage to the bronze medal round.

Velensek is a good ground fighter but she was no match for Harrison who armlocked her, rather easily, for ippon.

Tcheumeo's fight against Aguiar was not as decisive. Going into the last minute, both players had a shido on the board. Then, with about 30 seconds to go, Aguiar made a big mistake, grasping her own trousers to try to free her arm from Tcheumeo's grip. This is no longer allowed under IJF rules, so she got another shido, which cost her the match. It was a silly mistake. 

Aguiar might have aimed for the gold medal but now that that was no longer a prospect, she went all out to at least salvage a bronze for the home crowd. She attacked early with a neat drop tai-otoshi that rotated Castillo on her side for yuko. This was enough to win her the match as the Cuban could not get back the score. Although she was surely disappointed at not being able to fight for gold, she was clearly delighted at getting the bronze.

Velensek went after Malzahn on the ground and nearly caught her with an armlock. Malzahn survived that attack but when Velensek later applied a strangle, this time the German could not escape. She tried to hold on for a matte but as her face turned purple, the referee stopped the match. Ippon and a bronze medal for Velensek.

From the way Harrison went after Tcheumeo in the opening seconds of their match, it was obvious the American was going to win. Throughout their match it was Harrison who was attacking and soon enough Tcheumeo started getting penalties. With only 20 seconds left in the match and with her opponent already down with two shidos, Harrison didn't stop attacking. A failed seoi-nage attack allowed her to climb on top of Tcheumeo's back and apply an armlock that had the French player tapping very quickly. Harrison could have won on penalties alone but instead she went for the perfect score and secured an ippon with just seconds left on the clock. What a way to win the gold!