Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 5: 2013 Rio World Championships -70kg

-70kg Women
The women’s -70kg division saw a slate of new faces among the top ranks with the sole exception of France’s Olympic and triple World Champion Lucie Decosse who was ranked third going into the 2013 Rio World Judo Championships. Top favourite was the number one seed Kim Polling of the Netherlands, while Colombia’s Yuri Alvear was a dark horse. She was the surprise victor in the 2009 World Championships in Rotterdam and a bronze medallist in the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Pool A: Kim Seong-Yeon (KOR)

Kim Polling did well winning her first two matches by ippon but became unstuck when she met another Kim, the little-known Kim Seong-Yeon from South Korea (ranked 8th). They had fought twice before, the most recent being the 2013 Dusseldorf Grand Prix, and in both cases, South Korea’s Kim lost. But this time around, it was the South Korean who would prevail.

Kim won her first match against Australia’s Sara Collins with a very low, one-handed sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for ippon. That put her up against the Mongolian player, Naranjargal Tsend Ayush, whom she threw with a very fast reverse seoi-nage followed immediately with a pin for ippon.

South Korea's Kim wins her first two matches with sode and reverse seoi.

In Kim's next match, Polling threw her with a high-grip ouchi-gari into makikomi combination that scored a yuko and then rolled her into a hold down. Kim managed to escape though and moments later, responded with a massive kouchi-makikomi that scored waza-ari although it could have easily been an ippon. In ramping up her attacks Polling managed to score another yuko with uchimata and Kim had three shidos on the board, but it was not enough to salvage the situation and in the end, it was the South Korean who went through to the semi-finals.

A tough match between Polling and Kim. In the end Kim prevailed.

Pool B: Laura Vargas Koch (GER)

Although it was another Dutch player, Linda Bolder (ranked 4th), who was the top favourite in Pool B, it was the player ranked just beneath her, Germany’s Laura Vargas Koch, who won the pool.

Vargas Koch won her first bout, against Ecuador’s Vanessa Chala, with a tsuri-komi-goshi for ippon. Her next opponent, Cuba’s Onix Cortes-Aldama, was a much tougher proposition. The Cuban scored a yuko with seoi-nage in the opening seconds and then attacked relentlessly, causing Vargas Koch to get two shidos before throwing her with a harai-makikomi that scored another yuko. With two yukos on the board, the Cuban then switched tact and began to fight defensively, trying to ride the time out. With just about 30 seconds lef, Cortes-Aldama was dangerously close to hansoku-make with three shidos when Vargas Koch hooked in with an ouchi-gari that took her down for waza-ari, followed by a pin for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

Vargas Koch managed to throw and pin her opponent in the last minute of the match.

Compared to the Cuban, her next opponent, Angola’s Antonia Moreira, was an easier fight. Vargas Koch scored a waza-ari in the first minute with an ouchi-gari attack followed by a hand movement that landed the Angolan largely on her back for waza-ari. It was the soft landing that prevented it from being an ippon. Moments later, Vargas Koch ended the match with an ouchi-gari into kouchi-gake combination that smashed Moreira to the ground.

Pool C: Hwang Ye-Sul (KOR)
Canada’s 2nd-ranked Kelita Zupancic, a Pan-American champion, was the top favourite here but it was another South Korean, the 11th-ranked Hwang Ye-Sul, who eventually topped the pool. Hwang’s won her first match, against Luxembourg’s Lynn Mossong, with penalty win. Her second match, against Zupancic looked headed the same way when in literally the very last second (with exactly one second left on the clock) Hwang countered a desperate hiza-guruma attack by Zupancic to score waza-ari.

Hwang counters Zupancic's last-ditch hiza-guruma attempt.

After that, a yuko win against Brazil’s Maria Portela, earned her a place in the semi-finals.

Pool D: Yuri Alvear (COL)
France’s Lucie Decosse had peaked at the 2012 London Games and was no longer in top form in Rio (since London, she had lost twice, in the 2013 Paris Grand Slam and the 2013 Tyumen World Masters, both times to Kim Polling). However, she was still a serious contender and would have probably made it to semi-final if Colombia’s World Champion Yuri Alvear did not stand in her way.

Alvear had a good draw, with two byes before meeting her first opponent, Puerto Rico’s 27th-ranked Maria Perez. The Puerto Rican gave her a bit of scare though, scoring two yukos from seoi-nage and ashi-barai before succumbing to Alvear’s last-minute kosoto-gari counter which scored waza-ari. It was a close call for Alvear, who had to face Decosse next.

Alvear very nearly got defeated by Perez but she scored a big one in the last minute.
Perhaps having been jolted by her near defeat to a relative unknown, Alvear came out fighting hard against Decosse causing the French player to get two shidos before attacking her with a rolling soto-makikomi for yuko. She continued with the hard attacks and by the end of the match, not only was Decosse had accumulated three shidos. This was not the Decosse we saw in London.

Alvear soundly defeats Decosse, who was clearly no longer in top form.

In the first semi-final match, between Kim and Vargas Koch, the German player scored first. She came in with a high-grip hooking ouchi-gari. When the South Korean tried to counter with an ura-nage, she turned the attack into a kouchi-gari and scored yuko. Kim struck back with a kosoto-gari for yuko. Both players were even when time ran out so the match went into Golden Score. When Vargas Koch took another high grip stance, Kim decided to go for broke and went for a direct-attack ura-nage. Vargas-Koch hooked in for a kouchi-gari as she was launched into the air and landed on top. She was given a yuko and a passage to the

Kim goes for broke with a massive ura-nage that got countered by Vargas Koch.

Alvear threw Hwang with a soto-makikomi for waza-ari followed by a pin. The South Korean managed to wriggle out of the hold, conceding only a yuko. Alvear then attacked with a sticky-foot kosoto-gari which scored another yuko. With her eye set on the final, Alvear continued with the attacks and scored yet another yuko with a hip throw which she followed up with a pin for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

Alvear was all over Hwang, scoring many points in their semi-final match.

In the first bronze medal match, Hwang was clearly outclassed by Polling who threw her in the opening seconds with an ura-nage that scored waza-ari followed immediately with a hold-down for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.
A bronze medal was a good result considering tthat Polling was recovering from an injury and had not done much training in the lead up to the competition.

A massive ura-nage followed by a hold-down wins Polling the bronze medal.

In the other bronze medal match, Kim opened up the accounts in the opening seconds, throwing Decosse with drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for yuko. Try as she might, Decosse was not able to get back the score and at the end of five minutes, Kim was the winner. Decosse meanwhile stood motionless for several moments as it dawned upon her that she would be leaving Rio without a medal.

A hungry Kim outfought a tired Decosse.

With a second world championship title in sight, Alvear came out blazing, throwing Vargas Koch in the opening seconds with a  massive hip throw that looked like it deserved a higher score than the yuko that it received. She rectified that with her follow-up throw, another hip technique that scored ippon. Alvear was double world champion!

Two big hip throws wins Alvear her second world title!

Final Results
1. ALVEAR, Yuri (COL)    
2. VARGAS KOCH, Laura (GER)    
3. POLLING, Kim (NED)  
3. KIM, Seongyeon (KOR) 
5. HWANG, Ye-Sul (KOR)     
5. DECOSSE, Lucie (FRA)  

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