Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011 AIPS Judo Award

David Finch (3rd from left) & Thierry Rey (4th from left) (IJF)
The AIPS Judo Commission decided to give the 2011 awards to veteran photographer, David Finch, and to famous TV presenter, Thierry Rey (also a former World and Olympic champion).

The AIPS (Association International de la Presse Sportive), founded 87 years ago (1924) in Paris, has within its framework various Specialist Commissions and among these commissions is the one for the sport of judo.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Men’s +100kg

+100kg Final: Riner (FRA) throws Toelzer (GER) with ouchi-gari for ippon (
This division is the one the Paris crowd has been waiting all week long for. Teddy Riner was expected to blitz all opposition and win the gold for France. His main challengers were Japan’s Keiji Suzuki of Japan, an Olympic and double World Champion who had taken Riner to time in the Baku World Masters earlier in the year and lost by a hantei; and Andreas Toelzer of Germany who had lost to Riner by a yuko in the final of the 2010 World Championships.

Fifth-seeded Abdullo Tangriev of Uzbekistan and Daiki Kamikawa of Japan, who had beaten Riner in the 2008 Olympics and 2010 World Championships respectively, were possible stumbling blocks to the mighty Frenchman.

Riner, as expected, rose to the top of Pool A with little problem. There was an upset in Pool B, when Kamikawa was defeated in the first round by Holland’s Grim Vuijsters (seeded 20th), who was then beaten by South Korean’s Kim Sung-Min. Kim rose to the top of Pool B by defeating three-time World Champion Alexander Mikhailin. Meanwhile, Pool C was won by the up-and-coming Oscar Brayson of Cuba. Over in Pool D, Suzuki failed to get past the large Iranian Mohammad Rodaki, who beat him on penalties. Toelzer beat Rodaki in the quarter-final to top Pool D.

Germany’s Toelzer did not look particular strong in his fight against Cuba’s Brayson, with both men seemingly content to fight a strategic battle of grips. Neither one wanted to put in a genuine attack, perhaps fearful that the other could counter it. In the last minute, perhaps in an attempt to stave off a shido, the Cuban came in with an unconvincing drop technique that had him on all fours. Toelzer seized the opportunity to do groundwork, rolled Brayson onto his back and pinned him for ippon. He was through to the final.

Riner towered over Kim and the difference in size was obvious. Kim was back-pedaling when Riner came in with a massive osoto-gari that literally had the Korean airborne for a moment. Riner would be meeting Toelzer in the final.

Bronze Medal Matches
Russia’s Mikhailyn, who was making a comeback did not look impressive at all in his bronze medal fight against Cuba’s Brayson. It was as battle of grips and a contest of penalties. Midway through the contest, the Russian managed to counter the Cuban for a solid waza-ari score but he squandered that lead through penalties. By the end of five minutes, both men were even at a waza-ari each. Instead of trying to throw the Cuban, Mikhailyn played a tactical game that worked. Brayson received another shido, which mean a yuko score for his opponent. The bronze went to Russia.

Kim of Korea looked tiny compared to Iran’s Rodaki whose dominant gripping style caused Kim to step off the mat and incur a shido. The Korean fought back with several attacks while the Iranian parried them off. A slowish uchimata-makikomi worked though and he was able to pin the Iranian to the ground for ippon. Korea wins the other bronze.

The final of the men’s +100kg division was what the Paris crowd came to see and it was the ideal final – a  rematch of the +100kg final in the 2010 Tokyo World Championships.

Toelzer had clearly been studying Riner and adopted a left-handed grip on Riner’s right shoulder that negated most of the Frenchman’s forward attacks. After a few failed attempts at such attacks, Riner simply changed the direction of his attack and with an ouchi-gari, took Toelzer down, flat on his back. Ippon!

Men’s +100kg
RINER, Teddy (FRA) vs. TOELZER, Andreas (GER)
RINER, Teddy (FRA) vs. KIM, Sung-Min (KOR)
BRAYSON, Oscar (CUB) vs. TOELZER, Andreas (GER)
Bronze Medal Fights
MIKHAYLIN, Alexander (RUS) vs. BRAYSON, Oscar (CUB)
RODAKI, Mohammad (IRI) vs. KIM, Sung-Min (KOR)
BOR, Barna (HUN) vs. MIKHAYLIN, Alexander (RUS)
JABALLAH, Faical (TUN) vs. RODAKI, Mohammad (IRI)
1. RINER, Teddy (FRA)
2. TOELZER, Andreas (GER)
3. MIKHAYLIN, Alexander (RUS)
3. KIM, Sung-Min (KOR)
5. BRAYSON, Oscar (CUB)
5. RODAKI, Mohammad (IRI)
7. BOR, Barna (HUN)
7. JABALLAH, Faical (TUN)

Women’s +78kg

-78kg Final: Tong (CHN) holds down compatriot Qin (CHN) to win the gold (IJF)
If France’s Teddy Riner had a female equivalent, it would be China’s Olympic and multiple World Champion, Tong Wen. Tong had won gold medals in the 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 World Championships but was banned in 2010 by the IJF after she failed a doping test. She contested the ban and returned to active competition this year.

Tong blitzed her way through Pool A, winning all her matches by ippon. Cuba’s smallish Idalis Ortiz (seeded 5th in the IJF World Rankings) topped Pool B, while Tong’s compatriot Qin Qian topped Pool C. Japan’s 3rd-seeded Mika Sugimoto topped Pool D.

The Qin vs Sugimoto semi-final fight was a battle for grips and nothing else. Neither one was willing to try any big throws. As time ran out, Qin grip more aggressively than ever and perhaps wanting to avoid a penalty, Sugimoto attacked with a half-hearted uchimata that had her flopping to the ground. The strong Chinese fighter climbed on top, rolled her over and pinned Sugimoto for ippon.

In the other semi-final, Tong finished off her Cuban opponent with her trademark soto-makikomi into ushiro-kesa-gatame hold for ippon.

Bronze Medal Matches
It was Japan vs Japan fighting for bronze. Both fighters obviously knew each other only too well and it was yet another battle of grips and penalties. In the end, Sugimoto defeated her teammate Megumi Tachimoto through penalties, in a very boring bronze medal match.

The other bronze medal match saw more action. Russia’s very athletic Elena Ivashchenko footswept Cuba’s Ortiz for yuko and then armlocked her for ippon.

The final was an all-China affair and as to be expected when two judoka who know each other too well meet in a match, it’s usually a fierce battle for grips. Tong, however, didn’t have to rely on penalties to win. She launched a makikomi attack and rolled Qin onto her back to pin her for ippon.

Women’s +78kg
TONG, Wen (CHN) vs. QIN, Qian (CHN)
TONG, Wen (CHN) vs. ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB)
QIN, Qian (CHN) vs. SUGIMOTO, Mika (JPN)
Bronze Medal Fights
IVASHCHENKO, Elena (RUS) vs. ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB)
TACHIMOTO, Megumi (JPN) vs. POLAVDER, Lucija (SLO)
1. TONG, Wen (CHN)
2. QIN, Qian (CHN)
5. TACHIMOTO, Megumi (JPN)
5. ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB)
7. POLAVDER, Lucija (SLO)
7. BRYANT, Karina (GBR)

Men’s -100kg

-100kg Final: Khaybulaev (RUS) wins with sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for ippon (
This division is full of big throwers and hard fighters so it’s not easy to pick a favorite. Rather, the top fighters are 2010 World Champion Takamasa Anai of Japan, former World and Olympic Champion, Irakli Tsirekidze of Georgia, former World Champion Maxim Rakov of Kazakhstan and Henk Grol of the Netherlands, who is seeded second in the IJF world rankings.

Anai and Tsirekidze were both in Pool A, so a clash between these two was inevitable. The Georgian, who is now 29 years old and ranked 34th, managed to stag an upset by throwing the top-seeded Anai with kosoto-gari, not once but twice (the first time for waza-ari and the second, for ippon).

Elco van der Geest proved what a giant killer he is by throwing Tsirekidze for ippon with a kosoto-gari counter, during Golden Score. He had in 2004 created a major upset when he threw the great Japanese champion, Kosei Inoue, for ippon in the Olympics.

It so happened that Pool B had two Russians in it and they met in the semi-finals. Sergey Samoylovich and Tagir Khaybulaev were ranked fourth and fifth respectively. But in their quarter-final contest, it was Khaybulaev who prevailed, throwing Samoylovich with a massive standing ippon-seoi-nage.

Holland’s Grol, who was expected to reach the final, was upset by Georgia’s Levan Zhorzholiani, who, in turn, was upset by Egypt’s Ramadan Darwish, the winner of Pool C. Lastly, Pool D was topped by Kazakhstan’s Rakov.

Belgium’s van der Geest start off his semi-final bout well, doing regular attacks against Russia’s Khaybulaev. He seemed intent to play a strategic game and to win by penalties. But the Russian wouldn’t have any of it and attacked with a one-handed drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi which caused van der Geest to fall off the wrong side. It was scored a yuko. While the Belgian player was still in shock, Khaybulaev snapped on a juji-gatame that had van der Geest tapping immediately.

The other semi-final was a purely strategic match with Kazakhstan’s Rakov outgripping Egypt’s Darwish. In the end, Rakov won by penalties.

Bronze Medal Matches
Georgia’s Tsirekidze looked tired in his bronze medal match against Egypt’s Darwish but he put in more attacks. After the Egyptian got his first shido for passivity, you would expect the Georgian to play a strategic game, putting in safe attacks to avoid a penalty.

Perhaps because time was running out and he did not want to go into Golden Score, Tsirekidze launched a risky sacrifice attack that put the Egyptian on his side for waza-ari. Initially, the score was erroneously given to Darwish but after video playback, the judges awarded it – correctly – to Tsirekidze. There was not enough time for the Egyptian to get the score back and the bronze went to Georgia.

In the other bronze medal match, the Czech Republic’s Lukas Krpalek came out strong with an extreme left hand grip. Belgium’s van der Geest refused to be clamped down and took the fight to Krpalek, attacking him with a few convincing but safe attacks, enough to cause his opponent to get a shido.

It looked like it was going another drawn out strategic fight determined by penalties when Krpalek came in for a good hip throw that scored waza-ari. There was very little time left and van der Geest had no answer. Bronze went to the Czech Republic.

Kazakhstan’s Rakov is a heavy grip fighter and the opening moments of the final match consisted of fierce exchanges of grips with Khaybulaev. If this had gone on any longer, both men were liable to get penalties for non-combativity. But the Russian, a very capable thrower, would have none of that, and the moment he had a good grip on Rakov’s sleeve, Khaybulaev came in with a massive standing sode-tsuri-komi-goshi that scored ippon.

Men’s -100kg
KHAYBULAEV, Tagir (RUS) and RAKOV, Maxim (KAZ)
DARWISH, Ramadan (EGY) vs. RAKOV, Maxim (KAZ)
Bronze Medal Fights
TSIREKIDZE, Irakli (GEO) vs. DARWISH, Ramadan (EGY)
2. RAKOV, Maxim (KAZ)
3. KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE)
5. DARWISH, Ramadan (EGY)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Women’s -78kg

-78kg Final: Audrey Tcheumeo sweeps her way to gold (
The top seeded player for this division is Japan’s Akari Ogata while the 2010 World Champion was USA’s Kayla Harrison. These two were expected to meet in the final although France’s Audrey Tcheumeo, seeded fourth, could be a stumbling block to Harrison as she was on the same side of the draw as the American.

As expected, Ogata topped Pool A while Brazil’s rising star, Mayra Aguiar, came through to top Pool B. Harrison and Tcheumeo topped Pools C and D, respectively, which means they would be meeting in the semi-final.

Ogata soundly defeated Aguiar by ippon to earn a place in the final. The match between Harrison and Tcheumeo was not as decisive with the French player edging ahead with a well-time ouchi-gari that scored yuko midway through the contest.

The explosive Tcheumeo often runs out of steam if her matches run the full course and in the second half, she began to become defensive. Harrison piled on the pressure and Tcheumeo got her first shido. One more shido would mean Harrison would get a yuko as well. But this was not to be as time ran out on Harrison. It would be an Ogata-Tcheumeo final.

Bronze Medal Matches
The youthful Aguiar, who just turned 21, managed to defeat the experienced German Heidi Wollert, to win Brazil its fifth medal in the championships so far. The other bronze medal went to Harrison after a hard-fought match with Holland’s Marhinde Verkerk. Harrison wept while bowing out. Whether they were tears of joy for winning the bronze or tears of frustration for failing to make it to the final is perhaps something only she would know.

Tcheumeo showed her class and delighted the crowd by pulling off a perfectly-timed footsweep to floor Ogata in the final. It was a clear cut victory and one that sent the crowd into a frenzy as the French had won two gold medals today.

Women’s -78kg
OGATA, Akari (JPN) vs. TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA)
OGATA, Akari (JPN) vs. AGUIAR, Mayra (BRA)
HARRISON, Kayla (USA) vs. TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA)
Bronze Medal Fights
VERKERK, Marhinde (NED) vs. HARRISON, Kayla (USA)
WOLLERT, Heide (GER) vs. AGUIAR, Mayra (BRA)
VERKERK, Marhinde (NED) vs. JOO, Abigel (HUN)
IKEDA, Hitomi (JPN) vs. WOLLERT, Heide (GER)
1. TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA)
2. OGATA, Akari (JPN)
3. HARRISON, Kayla (USA)
3. AGUIAR, Mayra (BRA)
5. VERKERK, Marhinde (NED)
5. WOLLERT, Heide (GER)
7. IKEDA, Hitomi (JPN)
7. JOO, Abigel (HUN)

Men’s -90kg

Iliadis (GRE) throwing Denisov (RUS) with a massive ura-nage to earn a place in the final (
-90kg Final: Iliadis repeats his 2010 Tokyo World's performance, throwing the exact same opponent with the exact same throw (
Iliadis is now a double-World Champion (
Although there were no French fighters amongst the favorites to vie for the gold medal in this category, the -90kg event was as crowd favorite as there were many big throwers in the contest.
Amongst them: World and Olympic Champion Ilias Iliadis of Greece, former World Champion Tiago Camilo of Brazil and former World Champion Lee Kyu-Won of South Korea. Both the Japanese fighters Takashi Ono and Daiki Nishiyama were big throwers as well.

In a championship that has thus far featured a lot of drop-down techniques and matches won by penalties, the crowd was naturally yearning to see some big throws — and they were not disappointed.

Iliadis had some difficulty with the experienced Polish fighter, Robert Krawczyk, who took him to full time but lost by a yuko. After that, it was a smooth ride to the top of Pool A for Iliadis who won every match by big throws and ippon scores, to the delight of the audience.

South Korea’s Lee was expected to top Pool B but he got caught by a Russia’s Kirill Denisov‘s powerful kosoto-gake for ippon in the quarter-final. Japan’s Ono and Nishiyama topped Pools C and D respectively.

Iliadis continued to thrill the crowd in his semi-final bout, throwing Denisov with a massive ura-nage that looked like it could’ve come out of a Greco-Roman wrestling match. The other semi-final was less interesting because the two Japanese fighters obviously knew each other’s styles too well. In the end, the match was won by penalties with Ono incurring one more shido than Nishiyama.

Bronze Medal Matches
The bronze medal match between Japan’s Ono and Korea’s Lee was one worthy of a final. Both men were big throwers and both fought hard to salvage their country’s pride. The Korean threw Ono with a reverse seoi-nage into kuchiki-daoshi combination that caught the Japanese completely offguard. With a waza-ari scored and only about a minute left in the match, it seemed like Lee was on his way to win a bronze for Korea when Ono came in with his trademark uchimata that spun the Lee flat on his back. Both men looked stunned at the sudden reversal of fortune.

The other bronze medal match, between Russia’s Denisov and Cuba’s Asley Gonzalez was less exciting as both men were tentative in their attacks. After Gonzales received a shido for not attacking, Denisov seemed content to play the gripping game. He probably felt confident that he could make his opponent look passive, incur another shido and thus allow him to win by a yuko. Shortly after the match went into Golden Score, the Cuban fighter came in with a very low morote-seoi-nage that threw the Russian on his side. Yuko was scored and that was enough to win Gonzalez the bronze.

The final was as virtual repeat of the 2010 Tokyo World Championships, right down to the throw that won the match. Just as in Tokyo, Nishiyama tried to create some space to come in with uchimata while Iliadis kept pulling him in tightly to tie him up.

This fierce exchange of grips went on for a while before Iliadis began to dominate by pulling Nishiyama’s head down. The Japanese was in danger of being given a penalty when Iliadis came in with his famous hip throw and just like in Tokyo, he slammed Nishiyama flat on his back for ippon.

Men’s -90kg
ILIADIS, Ilias (GRE) vs. DENISOV, Kirill (RUS)
ONO, Takashi (JPN) vs. NISHIYAMA, Daiki (JPN)
Bronze Medal Fights
LEE, Kyu-Won (KOR) vs. ONO, Takashi (JPN)
GONZALEZ, Asley (CUB) vs. DENISOV, Kirill (RUS)
PESSANHA, Hugo (BRA) vs. LEE, Kyu-Won (KOR)
GREKOV, Valentyn (UKR) vs. GONZALEZ, Asley (CUB)
1. ILIADIS, Ilias (GRE)
3. ONO, Takashi (JPN)
3. GONZALEZ, Asley (CUB)
5. LEE, Kyu-Won (KOR)
5. DENISOV, Kirill (RUS)
7. GREKOV, Valentyn (UKR)

Women’s -70kg

-70kg Final: A very dominant DeCosse (FRA) in white, has her opponent Bosch (NED) back-peddling throughout the contest (
In the -78kg category, there is only one favorite and that’s France’s double World Champion, Lucie Decosse, who is clearly head and shoulders above the competition. She had no problems making it to the top of Pool A, defeating all her opponents by ippon.

Hungary’s Anett Meszaros topped Pool B, which meant she would face Decosse in the semi-finals. Meszaros has beaten DeCosse before, in the 2009 Rotterdam World Championships. But in their two recent fights, in the past year, DeCosse was the winner.

On the other side, the No. 2 IJF-ranked Edith Bosch of Holland topped Pool C. If anyone could give DeCosse a good fight, it would be Bosch, a former world champion. Meanwhile, top of Pool D was lesser-known Onix Cortés Aldama from Cuba, who is ranked just outside the Top 20 in the IJF rankings (she’s seeded 21).

The semi-finals went as expected with DeCosse winning her bout against Meszaros by throwing her Hungarian opponent with a slick osoto-gari into harai-goshi combination, which scored ippon. Holland’s Bosch had a harder time with the plucky Cuban Cortés Aldama and had to rely on penalties to win her match. Still, this earned her a ticket to the final.

Bronze Medal Matches
Japan’s Yoriko Kunihara threw Cortés Aldama with uchimata-makikomi to score waza-ari, which was enough to win her the bronze medal. The other bronze was won by Hungary’s Anett Meszaros, whose uchimata scored yuko and left her Slovenian opponent, Rasa Sraka‘s ankle badly injured. Sraka could not continue and the match (which only had a few seconds left) was awarded Meszaros.

If there were any doubts that DeCosse would win this bout, all would have been erased soon after the match started. It was a disappointing final with Bosch refusing to come to grips with DeCosse and back-pedaling throughout the entire fight, giving new meaning to the phrase “non-combativity”.
She steadily incurred penalties and nearly got her fourth shido — which would have meant hansoku-make — with about 11 seconds left. The judges conferred and decided to let the match go on but even so, Bosch refused to come to grips and in the end, allowed DeCosse to win the gold medal without even having to attempt a throw.

Women’s -70kg
DECOSSE, Lucie (FRA) vs. BOSCH, Edith (NED)
Semi Finals
DECOSSE, Lucie (FRA) vs. MESZAROS, Anett (HUN)
Bronze Medal Fights
SRAKA, Rasa (SLO) vs. MESZAROS, Anett (HUN)
SOL, Kyong (PRK) vs. KUNIHARA, Yoriko (JPN)
SRAKA, Rasa (SLO) vs. PASQUET, Marie (FRA)
1. DECOSSE, Lucie (FRA)
2. BOSCH, Edith (NED)
3. KUNIHARA, Yoriko (JPN)
3. MESZAROS, Anett (HUN)
5. SRAKA, Rasa (SLO)
7. SOL, Kyong (PRK)
7. PASQUET, Marie (FRA)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Women’s -63kg

-63kg Final: It was a scoreless final (
In the end, Emane (FRA) won a unanimous decision over Ueno (JPN)
After two days without any players at the top of the rostrum, the -63kg competition was the best chance for the host country to win its first gold medal.

France’s Gévrise Emane, a former World champion and the No. 2 seed in the IJF world rankings, was expected to meet her rival, Japan’s Yoshie Ueno, a double World and Olympic champion and the No. 1 seed. And so it was.

Ueno faced 4th-seeded Urska Zolnir of Slovenia in her semi-final match which went into overtime. Zolnir, who had earlier been more aggressive seemed to run out of steam during Golden Score and was eventually pinned for an ippon.

Emane also had a tough semi-final match, squaring up against Holland’s 3rd-seeded Elisabeth Willaboordse. Both played a tactical match until Emane dropped down low to score yuko with sode-tsuri-komi-goshi.

Bronze Medal Matches
It was Holland vs Holland contending for one of the bronze medals with Willaboordse going up against her team-mate, 8th-seeded Anicka van Emden. Although Willaboordse was the favorite, it was van Emden who scored twice with ouchi-gari for yuko to win the bronze medal.

The other bronze medal was won by Slovenia’s Zolnir who smashed Cuba’s Maricet Espinosa with a massive te-guruma for ippon after the Cuban adopted a cross guard grip (which allowed Zolnir to attack her legs).

The final between Japan’s Ueno and France’s Emane had the French crowd in a frenzy but it was a largely uneventful contest with both fighters playing it safe. Ueno launched several unconvincing drop attacks while Emane also dropped down several times with her low sode-tsuri-komi-goshi.

During Golden Score, Ueno received a shido for passivity after which she became more aggressive. The French player played it smart and made safe, tactical attacks to avoid getting a similar penalty. At the end of the Golden Score, all three judges awarded the match to Emane, giving the French something to really celebrate about.

Women’s -63kg

UENO, Yoshie (JPN) vs. EMANE, Gevrise (FRA)
UENO, Yoshie (JPN) vs. ZOLNIR, Urska (SLO)
EMANE, Gevrise (FRA) vs. WILLEBOORDSE, Elisabeth (NED)
Bronze Medal Fights
VAN EMDEN, Anicka (NED) vs. WILLEBOORDSE, Elisabeth (NED)
ESPINOSA, Maricet (CUB) vs. ZOLNIR, Urska (SLO)
VAN EMDEN, Anicka (NED) vs. XU, Yuhua (CHN)
ESPINOSA, Maricet (CUB) vs. DREXLER, Hilde (AUT)
1. EMANE, Gevrise (FRA)
2. UENO, Yoshie (JPN)
3. VAN EMDEN, Anicka (NED)
3. ZOLNIR, Urska (SLO)
5. WILLEBOORDSE, Elisabeth (NED)
5. ESPINOSA, Maricet (CUB)
7. XU, Yuhua (CHN)
7. DREXLER, Hilde (AUT)

Men’s -81kg

-81kg Final: Kim (KOR) attacks Mrvaljevic (MNE) with throws... (
... and with groundwork, to win the gold medal!
The clear favorite in the -81kg division is South Korea’s Kim Jae-Bum who blitzed his way through Pool A, defeating opponents from Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Belgium as well as Germany’s Ole Bischof (the 2008 Olympic champion), and Russia’s Ivan Nifontov (the 2009 World champion), to top Pool A. Brazil’s Leandro Guilheiro, probably the biggest thrower in the division, as expected, topped Pool C.

Two dark horses in the form of Loic Pietri (44th in the IJF rankings) of France and Srdan Mrvaljevic (25th in the IJF rankings) of Montenegro managed to top Pools B and D, respectively.
Pietri fought valiantly against Kim in the semi-final but he was clearly outmatched by the experienced Korean who, after dominating him in grips, threw him with a hopping uchimata for waza-ari. The expected winner went through to the final. There was an upset in the other semi-final though. Mrvaljevic managed to catch Guilheiro with a yoko-sutemi which scored waza-ari. This was enough to secure him a place in the final.

Bronze Medal Matches
Brazil’s Guilheiro showed what a top class player he was by throwing Elkhan Rajabli of Azerbaijan for ippon with a drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi within the opening seconds of their match. The other bronze fight ended very fast too. After quashing France’s Pietri drop ippon-seoi-nage, Moldova’s Sergiu Toma attacked him with a rolling strangle that had the Frenchman tapping within seconds. To the crowd’s disappointment, there will be no bronze for France tonight.

After displaying so much heart in his preliminary and semi-final matches, Montenegro’s Mrvaljevic tepid performance in the final was an utter disappointment. Kim did all the attacking and at times it seemed Mrvaljevic was happy just to be assured of silver medal.

His heart was clearly not in the match and after picking up a few shidos, Mrvaljevic nearly got armlocked and then got pinned for waza-ari. He managed to wriggle out with three seconds before ippon would be called. But with less than a minute left in the match,  he had all but lost the competition. Kim then played it safe and let the time run out, to clinch his second world title.

Men’s -81kg

KIM, Jae-Bum (KOR) vs. MRVALJEVIC, Srdjan (MNE)
KIM, Jae-Bum (KOR) vs. PIETRI, Loic (FRA)
Bronze Medal Fights
RAJABLI, Elkhan (AZE) vs. GUILHEIRO, Leandro (BRA)
TOMA, Sergiu (MDA) vs. PIETRI, Loic (FRA)
NIFONTOV, Ivan (RUS) vs. RAJABLI, Elkhan (AZE)
TOMA, Sergiu (MDA) vs.  VASYLENKO, Artem (UKR)
1. KIM, Jae-Bum (KOR)
3. GUILHEIRO, Leandro (BRA)
3. TOMA, Sergiu (MDA)
5. RAJABLI, Elkhan (AZE)
5. PIETRI, Loic (FRA)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Women’s -57kg

-57kg Final: Sato (JPN) attacks Silva (BRA) with a morote-seoi-nage (
She gets back up on her feet for elevation
And scores the perfect ippon!
The -57kg division produced the most surprises in the championships so far. The fights in Pool A went according to expectations with Japan’s Kaori Matsumoto sailing through all her matches to enter the semi-final. Her compatriot Aiko Sato also managed to top Pool B, which was also expected.
However, big shocks came in Pool C and D. Telma Monteiro of Portugal, who is considered the biggest threat to Matsumoto (she had beaten the Japanese at the Baku World Masters in Jan) lost in her first round fight against Miryam Roper of Germany by ippon. Roper was eventually beaten by Rafaela Silva of BRA who topped Pool C. Marti Malloy of the USA was the dark horse who unexpectedly rose to the top of Pool D.

Matsumoto was the favorite to win in her semi-final bout against her teammate Sato but she got caught by a well-timed tai-otoshi which scored waza-ari. Sato immediately followed that up with a hold down, to win with waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. The American’s winning streak was broken by Brazil’s powerful Silva who smashed Malloy to the ground for ippon.

Bronze Medal Matches
Malloy fought a spirited match against Corina Caprioriu of Romania and nearly scored with a sumi-gaeshi attack in Golden Score. The Romanian, however, proved too powerful and won the bronze medal match with a powerful juji-gatame which had the American tapping very quickly to avoid her arm getting broken. Germany’s Roper was in good spirits going into her bronze medal match despite having to face the No. 1 seed Matsumoto. She fought hard, putting in some good attacks but was eventually knocked down for waza-ari and then pinned for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

Brazil’s Silva had previously beaten the No. 1 ranked, Matsumoto, in the Dussseldorf Grand Prix but she had never faced the No. 4 ranked  Sato. The Japanese player was bubbling with confidence and could be seen smiling and jumping about as she warmed up before the match. She went after the Brazilian player right from the start and after a flurry of attacks, her opponent got a shido. Not one to coast, Sato continued her attacks until until she finally scored ippon with a perfectly-timed morote-seoi-nage.

Women’s -57kg
SATO, Aiko (JPN) vs. SILVA, Rafaela (BRA)
MATSUMOTO, Kaori (JPN) vs. SATO, Aiko (JPN)
SILVA, Rafaela (BRA) vs. MALLOY, Marti (USA)
Bronze Medal Fights
CAPRIORIU, Corina (ROU) vs. MALLOY, Marti (USA)
ROPER, Miryam (GER) vs. MATSUMOTO, Kaori (JPN)
ROPER, Miryam (GER) vs. ZABLUDINA, Irina (RUS)
1. SATO, Aiko (JPN)
2. SILVA, Rafaela (BRA)
3. CAPRIORIU, Corina (ROU)
5. MALLOY, Marti (USA)
5. ROPER, Miryam (GER)
7. FERNANDEZ, Isabel (ESP)

Women’s -52kg

-52kg Final: It was an all-Japan affair! (
The -52kg division is another one dominated by the Japan with the No. 1 and 2 IJF-ranked players being Japanese. As expected, Yuka Nishida and Misato Nakamura topped their respective pools (A and C). Andreaa Chitu of Romania topped Pool B while Anna Carrascosa of Spain topped Pool D.
Japan’s Nakamura made quick work of her semi-final opponent, finishing Spain’s Carrascosa off tai-otoshi for ippon within two minutes. Nishida had a harder time coming to grips with Romania’s Chitu who adopted an extreme right-hand stance. It took some time for Nishida to settle in but when she did, she made it count, dropping low with a seoi-nage attack that scored ippon. This meant the final was another all-Japan affair.

Bronze Medal Matches
Joanna Ramos of Portugal scored first with a soto-makikomi for yuko against Carrascosa of Spain. However, the bronze medal went to the Spanish player after she threw her opponent with a sharp ouchi-gari for ippon.

The other bronze medal went to Chitu of Romania who fought a very scrappy match against Priscilla Gneto of France. In Golden Score, when both players were locked into a belt grab-leg grab situation, the Romanian prevailed and knocked her opponent to the ground for a yuko, which was enough to win.

In the all-Japan final, it was the No. 1 seed vs the No. 2 seed. Both fighters are big throwers but it was obvious that Nishida and Nakamura were only too familiar with each other’s fighting styles, resulting in a rather boring final. In the end Nakamura won through penalties.

Women’s -52kg
NISHIDA, Yuka (JPN) vs. NAKAMURA, Misato (JPN)
NISHIDA, Yuka (JPN) vs. CHITU, Andreea (ROU)
Bronze Medal Fights
GNETO, Priscilla (FRA) vs. CHITU, Andreea (ROU)
RAMOS, Joana (POR) vs. GOMEZ, Laura (ESP)
KUZYUTINA, Natalia (RUS) vs. GNETO, Priscilla (FRA)
1. NAKAMURA, Misato (JPN)
2. NISHIDA, Yuka (JPN)
3. CHITU, Andreea (ROU)
5. RAMOS, Joana (POR)
5. GNETO, Priscilla (FRA)
7. GOMEZ, Laura (ESP)
7. KUZYUTINA, Natalia (RUS)

Men’s -73kg

-73kg Final: Nakaya (JPN) beats Elmont (NED) by penalties (
The men’s -73kg division had two favorites: South Korea’s Wang Ki-Chun and Japan’s Hiroyuki Akimoto. Both are former world champions (with Wang holding the title twice in 2007 and 2009 and Akimoto in 2010).

Going into the competition, Wang (No. 1 in the IJF rankings) was the favorite although Akimoto (No. 3 in the IJF rankings) had beaten him in the last World Championships in Tokyo last year. The first three matches progressed smoothly for Wang. Then, he got smashed for ippon with an uchimata by France’s Ugo Legrand in the first 15 seconds of the match. As winner of Pool A, Legrand was to square off against the winner of Pool B, Dex Elmont of Holland.

The winner of Pool C, Riki Nakaya had a relatively easy first three matches but his fourth one was a bruising battle with the unorthodox Mongolian, Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal, who took him to Golden Score. Nakaya must have decided another three minutes with Sainjargal was too draining and promptly smashed him with a massive osoto-gari for ippon.

Next up, Nakaya fought Kazakhstan’s Rinat Ibragimov in an even harder fight that also went to Golden Score. Nakaya and Ibragimov traded several attacks which failed to score and then, when the Kazakhstan player reached over for a belt grip, Nakaya threw him with massive te-guruma for ippon.
Nakaya’s semi-final match would be against his teammate Hiroyuki Akimoto, who had fought solidly throughout the day. Akimoto’s route the semifinal was not as tough as Nakaya’s but he did have a tough fight with Mansur Isaev of Russia, whom he beat through penalties.

The first semi-final, between Legrand and Elmont was largely a tactical affair with both fighters playing it relatively safe. The match went to Golden Score and when time ran out on that, Elmont won by a unanimous decision. The other semi-final was more interesting as both fighters really tried to throw each other. Nakaya scored a crucial yuko by throwing Akimoto with osoto-gari.

Bronze Medal Matches
It was obvious that Uzbekistan’s Navruz Jurakobilov was wary of Akimoto’s drop seoi-nage. He played such a defensive game, he eventually got a shido. Akimoto piled on the pressure by scoring a yuko with ouchi-gari. It was at this point that Jurakobilov decided to throw caution to the wind and attacked Akimoto fearlessly, and this change in style worked. He pressured Akimoto into doing another one of his drop techniques and promptly countered it with kosoto-gari for waza-ari to win the match.

The other bronze medal match was won by Legrand who gave the French audience something to cheer for. A spinning uchimata against Kazakhstan’s Ibragimov failed to score but it was a good attack. Ibragimov responded with a sumi-gaeshi. This was quashed by Legrand, who proceeded to pin him for 15 seconds for a yuko score — enough to win the match.

Nakaya had shown throughout the day that he was a big thrower but in his final match against Elmont, he played it safe, making small drop attacks – enough to earn his opponent shido. Several scrappy attacks later and Elmont got another shido. This meant Nakaya was up by a yuko. He fought smartly until then end and earned Japan yet another gold medal.

Men’s -73kg
ELMONT, Dex (NED) vs. NAKAYA, Riki (JPN)
NAKAYA, Riki (JPN) vs. AKIMOTO, Hiroyuki (JPN)
Bronze Medal Fights
JURAKOBILOV, Navruz (UZB) vs. AKIMOTO, Hiroyuki (JPN)
IBRAGIMOV, Rinat (KAZ) vs. ISAEV, Mansur (RUS)
1. NAKAYA, Riki (JPN)
2. ELMONT, Dex (NED)
5. AKIMOTO, Hiroyuki (JPN)
7. ISAEV, Mansur (RUS)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Women’s -48kg

-48kg Final: Asumi attacks boldly with throws like this sacrifice kosoto-gari. She eventually won with an ouchi-gari for yuko. (
The -48kg division is dominated by the Japanese, with Haruna Asami and Tomoko Fukumi holding the first and second position in the IJF rankings list. Short of an upset, these two would meet in the final, and indeed they did.

Asami, who topped Pool A fought against Sarah Menezes of Brazil, who topped Pool B. The Brazilian was a gritty fighter but she was no match against the experienced and confident Asami, who threw her with a slick kouchi-gari for ippon.

On the other side, Fukumi topped Pool C while Charline van Snick of Belgium topped Pool D. This semi-final was a harder fight with the match going to full time and Fukumi winning by a yuko.

Bronze Medal Matches
A very determined Eva Csernoviczki of Hungary fought well against the capable Van Snick, countering her twice, first for waza-ari and then another one for ippon to win the bronze medal. France’s hope for a bronze medal was dashed when Menezes threw French veteran Frederique Jossinet with a cross drop morote-seoi-nage for ippon.

Gold Medal Match
The gold medal match was an all-Japan affair. Asami fought aggressively and took more chances than her team-mate Fukumi, who adopted a more careful approach. Asami’s attacking style bore fruit when she scored a crucial yuko with a very low ouchi-gari. With little time left on the clock, Fukumi fought back hard, attempting a reverse seoi-nage on Asami, but it didn’t score. At the end of the five-minute match, Asami proved she deserves to be ranked No. 1.

Women’s -48kg
ASAMI, Haruna (JPN) vs. FUKUMI, Tomoko (JPN)
Bronze Medal Fights
JOSSINET, Frederique (FRA) vs. MENEZES, Sarah (BRA)
Semi Finals
ASAMI, Haruna (JPN) vs. MENEZES, Sarah (BRA)
FUKUMI, Tomoko (JPN) vs.  VAN SNICK, Charline (BEL)
WU, Shugen (CHN) vs. CSERNOVICZKI, Eva (HUN)
JOSSINET, Frederique (FRA) vs. DUMITRU, Alina (ROU)
1. ASAMI, Haruna (JPN)
2. FUKUMI, Tomoko (JPN)
3. MENEZES, Sarah (BRA)
5. VAN SNICK, Charline (BEL)
5. JOSSINET, Frederique (FRA)
7. WU, Shugen (CHN)
7. DUMITRU, Alina (ROU)

Men’s -66kg

-66kg Final: Cunha (BRA) attacks Ebinuma (JPN) with a big uchimata but it didn't score. (

Ebinuma wins the match with a big uchimata for ippon. (
Going into the men’s -66kg competition, there were two clear favorites: Japan’s 2010 World Champion Junpei Morishita and Mongolia’s 2009 World Champion Hashbaatar Tsagaanbaatar. Both men were a contrast in style with Morishita displaying classical judo and Hashbaatar favoring unorthodox wrestling techniques. A final between these two players would have been quite a sight to see.

But alas, both men failed to make it to the final, with Morishita losing lesser-known Igor Soroca of Moldova, who threw the Japanese for ippon; and Hashbaatar losing to Cho Jun-Ho of South Korea, who fought a tactical match and won by penalties.

Cho, however, later lost to Masashi Ebinuma (JPN), who topped Pool A. Musa Mogushkov (RUS) topped Pool B, while Pool C and D were won by Leandro Cunha (BRA) and Rok Draksic (SLO), respectively.

Ebinuma and Mogushkov, too, were a contrast in styles with the Japanese preferring tradition judo and the Russian favoring unorthodox techniques. In this case, traditional judo won. Ebinuma threw Mogushkov twice, first with a cross-grip morote-seoi-nage for yuko and then a regular morote-seoi-nage for ippon to finish the match.

Cunha’s match against Draksic was not as exciting, with the match going to full time and the Brazilian winning by a yuko.

Bronze Medal Matches
In the repercharge, Colin Oates kept Britain’s medal hopes alive by beating home favorite David Larose of France in a highly tactical match which saw the Brit beating the Frenchman through penalties.  Oates, however, could not do the same to Russia’s Mogushkov, who flipped him over with a very low belt-grab sumi-gaeshi for ippon in the bronze medal match. The other bronze medal was won by  Korea’s Cho who threw Slovenia’s Draksic for ippon with a double-sleeved, drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi.

Gold Medal Match
The final match was a first for Ebinuma but the second for Cunha, who had won a silver medal at last year’s World Championships in Japan, where he lost by ippon to Ebinuma’s compatriot, Morishita. Would Cunha be able to get revenge, albeit against another Japanese player?

Cunha started attacking straight away, launching two big uchimata attempts against Ebinuma who was playing a more careful match and taking his time to get the right grip and into the right position to launch his attack. That moment came at the edge of the mat, about halfway through the match.

From a regular sleeve-lapel grip, Ebinuma launched into an uchimata and then switched to a belt grip as he hopped it through. Cunha fell on his back and ippon was declared. Japan now has a new judo hero.

Men’s -66kg

EBINUMA, Masashi (JPN) vs. CUNHA, Leandro (BRA)
Bronze medal fights
CHO, Jun-Ho (KOR) vs. DRAKSIC, Rok (SLO)
OATES, Colin (GBR) vs. MOGUSHKOV, Musa (RUS)
EBINUMA, Masashi (JPN) vs. MOGUSHKOV, Musa (RUS)
CUNHA, Leandro (BRA) vs. DRAKSIC, Rok (SLO)
CHO, Jun-Ho (KOR) vs. KARIMOV, Tarlan (AZE)
OATES, Colin (GBR) vs. LAROSE, David (FRA)
1. EBINUMA, Masashi (JPN)
2. CUNHA, Leandro (BRA)
3. CHO, Jun-Ho (KOR)
5. OATES, Colin (GBR)
7. KARIMOV, Tarlan (AZE)
7. LAROSE, David (FRA)

Men's -60kg

-60kg Final: Sobirov (UZB) attacks Hiraoka (JPN) with a hugging kosoto-gake, a powerful but risky move. (All pix by

This is the kind of throw you need to do with full commitment.

He smashes Hiraoka to the ground, scoring waza-ari.
The 60kg division used to be boring to watch because so many of the players had resorted to leg-grabbing. Now that direct attack leg grabs are banned, the 60kg division has become arguably the most exciting weight class to watch because the fast and agile players are going for big throws.

The top players in this division are Rishod Sobirov (UZB), Hiroaki Hiraoka (JPN) and Geogii Zantaraia (UKR). Sobirov was in Pool A, Zantaria in Pool C and Hiraoka in Pool D. This meant that if Sobirov made it all the way to the final, he would likely meet Zantaraia or Hiraoka.

Sobirov, who had just been named Best Male Judoka Today by the IJF, cruised smoothly through the preliminary rounds defeating opponents from Switzerland, Burkina Faso, Brazil and Azerbaijan. The player he was likely to meet in the semi-finals was the new Japanese hopeful Hirofumi Yamamoto.

However, Yamamoto got caught with a well-timed kosoto-gari by Kim Won-Jin of South Korea, which sent the Japanese crashing to the ground. The force of the throw was so powerful, it knocked the wind out of Yamamoto, who had to lie down on the mat for some time before he could get up to bow out. Kim then defeated the tough Russian fighter Arsen Galtsyan to meet Sobirov in the semi-finals.

The Korean had obviously studied Sobirov’s moves, which is not surprising – as the No. 1 ranked player for the past year, he is probably the most watched player around. Kim managed to spin out of Sobirov’s usual throws, yoko-sutemi and sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi.

Towards the end of the match, Kim came in with a big uchimata which Sobirov attempted to counter but fell backwards instead. The referee gave Kim the ippon but it was overruled by the corner judges and was changed to waza-ari instead.

With very little time left, Sobirov went on a massive offensive and pressured the Korean into launching a desperate uchimata at the edge of the mat. Sobirov countered this for ippon, earning himself a place in the final.

On the other side, Zantaraia had no problems dispatching his first few opponents but lost to the other South Korean Choi Gwang-Hyeon by penalties. This meant it was likely to get Hiraoka that will be facing Sobirov. And so it was.

But it was not easy going for Hiraoka in his semi-final match against Choi, who had obviously studied Hiraoka’s favorite throws. A reverse seoi-nage and a couple of kouchi-makikomi attacks by the Japanese failed to produce any scores and the match went into Golden Score.

Perhaps aware that his regular attacks were effective against the Korean, Hiraoka switched to a regular kouchi-gari rather than his usual kouchi-makikomi and it worked like a charm. He scored ippon.

Bronze Medal Matches
The repercharge saw a grudge match between Zantaraia and Armenia’s Hovhannes Davtyan, who had strangled him unconscious in the Paris Grand Slam in February this year. This time around, Zantaraia prevailed, throwing the Armenian with a very low soto-makikomi for ippon. The Armenian clearly didn’t appreciate that, and in a display of poor sportsmanship, refused to shake Zantaraia’s hand after the match. Zantaraia made quick work of his match bronze medal match, throwing the Korean Kim with tsuri-goshi for ippon. The other bronze medal was won by Azerbaijan’s Ilgar Mushkiyev who defeated Korea’s Choi.

Gold Medal Match
The 60kg final was an exciting one, between World No. 1 Sobirov and World No. 3 Hiraoka. Both were big throwers, who seem to be able to launch attacks seemingly from any position, left and right.
Hiraoka has the distinction of being the last player to have beaten Sobirov, in the 2010 Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam. Since then, Sobirov has had nothing but consecutive victories. So, if any man could overcome him in the finals, it would be Hiraoka.

Although both players are known for non-stop, aggressive, attacking judo, they were quite careful in the opening minutes. Hiraoka was given a shido for passivity, which caused him to ramp things up a bit. He nearly scored with his trademark reverse seoi-nage but Sobirov landed on his front.

This prompted Sobirov to up the ante and he nearly scored with a lightning quick koshi-guruma. Hiraoka landed on his front. After that Sobirov threw caution to the wind and attacked Hiraoka with a big, hugging kosoto-gake attack – similar to the kind made famous by Zantaria. As Hiraoka fell over, he arched his back and conceded a waza-ari. But with only a few seconds left on the board, Hiraoka knew he had lost in the final yet again (he was the silver medallist at the 2009 Rotterdam World Championships).

A beaming Sobirov proved the IJF right in dubbing him “Best Male Judoka Today”. He is clearly the favorite going into the 2012 London Olympics.

Men’s -60kg
SOBIROV, Rishod (UZB) vs. HIRAOKA, Hiroaki (JPN)
Bronze Medal fights
MUSHKIYEV, Ilgar (AZE) vs. CHOI, Gwang-Hyeon (KOR)
ZANTARAIA, Georgii (UKR) vs. KIM, Won Jin (KOR)
Semi finals
SOBIROV, Rishod (UZB) vs. KIM, Won Jin (KOR)
CHOI, Gwang-Hyeon (KOR) vs. HIRAOKA, Hiroaki (JPN)
ZANTARAIA, Georgii (UKR) vs. DAVTYAN, Hovhannes (ARM)
1. SOBIROV, Rishod (UZB)
2. HIRAOKA, Hiroaki (JPN)
3. ZANTARAIA, Georgii (UKR)
5. CHOI, Gwang-Hyeon (KOR)
5. KIM, Won Jin (KOR)
7. GALSTYAN, Arsen (RUS)
7. DAVTYAN, Hovhannes (ARM)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

This could be the start of something big

Welcome to Judo Life, a collaboration between me and David Finch, whom I’ve been working with since 1993.

We will be using this blog to provide coverage of the 2011 Paris World Championships. Our plan is to provide daily overviews of the competition, which will be held over a record six days!

We’ll also be using this blog to highlight innovative techniques used in competition as well as controversial decisions and much more.

Basically, the idea is that Judo Life will be an interesting resource for judo fans to learn more about their sport. We’re kicking this off modestly, but this could be the start of something big.