Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 4: 2013 Rio World Championships -63kg

-63kg Women
The number one seed going into Rio was Israel’s Yarden Gerbi who had done well in the IJF tour circuit, most notably the recent Moscow Grand Slam in July, but had yet to add any major world title to her name. Other top contenders were the Japanese player Kana Abe, winner of the IJF World Masters in Tyumen and France’s Clarisse Agbegnenou, the reigning European champion.

As with many other weight categories, the -63kg women’s division at the 2013 Rio World Champions had seen a change of guards since the 2011 World Championships in Paris and the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Many of the top players like Slovenia’s Olympic Champion Ulska Zolnir and Japan’s double World and Olympic Champion Yoshie Ueno had retired although France’s double World Champion Gevrise Emane (ranked 6th) was still competing.

Pool A: Yarden Gerbi (ISR)
Gerbi, who has a more than a passing resemblance to Spain’s World and Olympic Champion Isabel Fernandez, won her first match, against El Salvador’s Karla Catota Quijano, with a textbook uchimata for ippon. She won her next match, against Italy’s Valentina Giorgis with a classic ogoshi for ippon. Her ippon victory over Slovenia’s Tina Trstenjak, with an osoto-gaeshi turned into makikomi, brought her to the top of her pool.

Israel's Gerbi proved she had great throwing powers in the prelims.

Pool B: Kana Abe (JPN)
Like many Japanese female players, Abe’s groundwork was very strong and she used this to good effect in her first match, against Sweden’s Mia Hermansson, by turning her over for a hold down that scored ippon. She footswept her next opponent, Spain’s Isabel Puche, for waza-ari before pinning her for waza-ari-awasatte ippon. This brought her up against her teammate, Miki Tanaka (ranked 5th), whom she threw with tani-otoshi for waza-ari and then with uchimata sukashi for yuko. Tanaka managed to get a counter against Abe’s sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi attempt but it wasn’t enough to win the match as it scored only a yuko. It was Abe through the semi-finals.

Japan's Abe showed some impressive groundwork in her prelims.

Pool C: Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA)

Agbegnenou won her first match, against Morocco’s Rizlen Zouak, quite easily by taking her down with sumi-gaeshi for yuko, then pinning her for ippon. Her second match, against Portugal’s Ana Cachola, was won in quick fashion as well, first with a harai-makikomi for waza-ari and then osoto-gari for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. She also didn’t have much problem with her German opponent, Martyna Trajdos, whom she threw for ippon with a soto-makikomi. This victory meant she topped Pool C and thus raised the prospect of meeting her teammate Emane in the semi-finals.

Agbegnenou didn't have much difficulty in her prelims.

Pool D: Gevrise Emane (FRA)

In contrast to Agbegnenou, Emane had a much more difficult time in her pool. In her first match, against Sweden’s Ana Berholm, she got thrown with a massive tani-otoshi. She was fortunate it was given only a yuko and not more. Halfway through the match, she evened the scores with a drop seoi-nage for yuko. From then on it was a scrappy battle of grips and Emane got through on a penalty win. Emane’s next two matches, against USA’s Hannah Martin and the Netherland’s 3rd-ranked Van Emden were also won by penalties. It was not a very inspiring performance by France’s double world champion.

In contrast to her teammate
Agbegnenou, Emane had a tough time in her prelims.

Gerbi had shown in the earlier rounds that she was more than capable at throwing but in her semi-final match against Abe, Gerbi showed that she was just as competent on the ground. Halfway through their contest, Gerbi strangled Abe with a highly unusual strangle that involved pulling the skirt of her own jacket across the neck of her opponent and pressing down hard with her left leg. It had the Japanese player tapping.

Gerbi used a very unorthodox strangle to win in the semis.

It was new against old in the other semi-final, an all-French affair, when Agbegnenou squared up against Emane. The hungrier Agbegnenou was the aggressor and within the first two minutes, Emane had racked up two shidos. Agbegnenou then went for the kill with a running osoto-gari that took the both of them off the mat before landing Emane flat on her back. Under the new rules, the throw was valid. Ippon!

It was France vs France and Old vs Young in the other semis. Youth prevailed.

At 31 years old, Emane might be at the tail-end of her career but she proved in her bronze medal match that she still had plenty of throwing power. When her Slovenian opponent Tina Trstenjak rushed at her at the edge of the mat, Emane retreated only to swing into standing ippon seoi-nage for ippon. Both players were outside the mat area when it happened but that doesn’t matter under the new rules as the action began inside the mat.

Emane might no longer be in her prime but she still had what it took to get a bronze.

Interestingly, the second bronze medal match was also won with a standing ippon-seoi-nage, executed by Netherland’s Van Emden against Japan’s Abe. It only scored waza-ari but it was enough to win the match as Abe was unable to get back the score in the
time left.

The Netherlands' van Emden used a classical technique to win her bronze.


The final was between two players who knew each other well. Gerbi and Agbegnenou often trained together and were apparently good friends. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t fight each other hard. Gerbi launched her French opponent in the opening seconds of the match with a koshi-guruma that scored yuko and then proceeded to apply the same unusual strangle that she did against Abe. It was just as effective. Actually even more so as Agbegnenou passed out before she had a chance to tap. A genuinely concerned Gerbi gracefully saved her celebrations at winning the gold– until she stepped off the mat.

Gerbi once again used her very unorthodox strangle, to win the gold!
Final Results
1. GERBI, Yarden (ISR)  
2. AGBEGNENOU, Clarisse (FRA)  
3. EMANE, Gevrise (FRA)
3. VAN EMDEN, Anicka (NED)
5. TRSTENJAK, Tina (SLO)   
5. ABE, Kana (JPN)

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