Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 1: 2013 Rio World Championships -60kg

Men’s -60kg
There was a time when the lightest weight class had become more like freestyle wrestling, with most of the players diving for the legs. But due to the new rules, which forbade leg grabs, the -60kg division had grown to become one of the most exciting weight classes to watch, with some of the biggest throwers in judo belonging to that division.

Yet, in Rio, four of the most dynamic -60kg players were not here. Both Uzbekhistan's Rishod Sobirov and the Ukraine's Georgii Zantaraia had moved up to -66kg. Russia's Arsen Galstyan, the Olympic champion, was also missing, apparently due to injury. Olympic and double world silver medallist Hiroaki Hiraoka, the Japanese player who always seemed to be on the cusp of greatness, was not in Rio either. Their absence however didn't make the competition any less exciting as there was plenty of action from the ones who were there.

Pool A (Amiran Papinashvili - GEO)
The situation left the field wide open for the Number 1 seed, Georgia’s Amiran Papinashvili, who was the top favourite in Pool A. Previously in the shadow of his rivals like Sobirov and Zantaraia, he has come out on his own winning this year’s European Championships and Moscow Grand Slam.
In his first match, Papinashvili scored a waza-ari by countering Turkey’s Ahmet Sahin Kaba but he had difficulty finishing off his awkward opponent who twice twisted out of Papinashvili’s hip throws. The Georgian ended up relying on groundwork, pinning his opponent for ippon. Papinashvili managed to contain Germany’s energetic Tobias Englmaier, in his next bout, defeating the German with a pair of yukos, from a hip throw and a counter.

His next opponent Kazakhstan’s Askhat Telmanov, gave him a hard time though it was clear who was the superior player. Telmanov scored first by throwing Papinashvili with an ura-nage for yuko. Papinashvili struck back with a low kosoto-gari for yuko. He followed that up with a hip throw for waza-ari an a hold-down for yuko before Telmanov managed to escape. Papinashvili then ended the match decisively with massive hip throw for ippon.


Georgia's Papinashvili has massive hip throwing power.

Pool B (Amartuvshin Dashdavaa - MGL)

Pool B’s favourite was Mongolia’s 4th-ranked Amartuvshin Dashdavaa who made quick work of his first opponent, North Korea’s Jang Hyok Chol, by scoring a waza-ari with a counter in the first 30 seconds and then throwing Jang with a tomoe-nage for waza-ari-awasatte ippon. Next up, he beat Morocco’s Yassine Moudatir with a dramatic hadaka jime for ippon. This is a technique seldom seen in top competition.

That placed Dashdavaa up against Austria’s 2008 Beijing Olympic Silver Medallist Ludwig Paischer, whom he managed to beat surprisingly easily, first side-stepping the Austrian for waza-ari and then using a hand movement to rotate him for ippon.


Mongolia's Dashdavaa wins with surprising ease against Austria's Paischer.


This meant he would be meeting his teammate, the 5th-ranked Boldbataar Ganbat (ranked 5th) for top position in Pool B. They knew each other too well and had difficulty scoring against each other. In the end, Dashdavaa won by two shidos against three.

Pool C (Naohisa Takato - JPN)
This pool featured the up-and-coming Naohisa Takato from Japan. Ranked 2nd in the world, Takato is a former World Junior and World U17 (Cadet) Champion. He recently had a string of victories, winning gold at this year’s Tyumen World Masters and Paris Grand Slam as well as last year’s Tokyo Grand Slam, Tashkent World Cup and Moscow Grand Slam.

His first match was against Hungary’s Laszlo Burjan whom he whirled over with a quick uchimata for waza-ari followed by an extended groundwork attack that allowed him to pin Burjan for ippon. Next up was Venezuela’s Javier Guedez whom he threw with kouchi for yuko followed by another pin for ippon.

His first serious competition of the day came in his third bout, against Kazakhstan’s Yeldos Smetov who nearly threw him with a low, twisting morote-seoi-nage. Takato responded with a hip throw that scored yuko. It was the only score on the board at the end of a hard-fought five minutes. He was through to the semi-finals.


All Japan's Takato could manage was to pull off was a hip throw for yuko, but it was enough.

Pool D (Kim Won-Jin - KOR)

This pool featured the home favourite, Brazil’s Olympic bronze medallist Felipe Kitadai, who was ranked third. Although known for his spirited fighting style, Kitdai was clearly overwhelmed by South Korea’s Kim Won-Jin, who played a very tactical game, dominating with his left arm and leaving the Brazilian in a defensive position throughout the match. Kitadai collected two shidos before being thrown with a counter for wazaari. Kim’s next match was against Canada’s Sergio Pessoa whom he dispatched with a drop seoi-nage for ippon.

Kim nearly got upset by Azerbaijan’s Orkhan Safarov who first threw him with an unexpected ouchi-gari for waza-ari and very nearly scored with an ura-nage counter. After recovering from the initial flurry of attacks, Kim proceeded to demolish him with an osoto-gari for waza-ari, followed by a seoi-nage for yuko and finally with an armlock for ippon. It was an impressive victory.


Kim conceded a waza-ari earlier in the match but then came back with a vengeance.

Semi-finals

The semi-final match between Papinashvili and Dashdavaa was a conservative one with both players playing a tactical game. With 30 seconds left, it looked like it was going to be a match decided by penalties, with Mongolian down by three shidos against one, when the Dashdavaa pulled off a do-or-die hugging kosoto-gari that sent Papinashvili flying through the air for ippon!


Dashdavaa's unexpected kosoto-gari, which launched Papinashivili into the air, thrills the crowd.

In the other semi-final match, Takato outclassed Kim, whom he had beaten in the 2013 Paris Grand Slam earlier, by first throwing him for waza-ari with a yoko-sutemi technique commonly associated with European players; and then ending the match with a stunning hip throw for waza-ari-awasatte ippon.


It was a good match but in the end, it was clear that Takato was the superior fighter.

Bronze

The bronze medal match between Ganbat and Kim was a tough one filled with penalties. However, with just a minute left in the match, Kim launched Ganbat with a crowd-pleasing koshi-guruma for waza-ari.


South Korea's Kim is able to pull off big throws and he does just that in his bronze medal match.

In the other bronze medal match, underdog Safarov (ranked 71st) pulled off a major upset with a deftly executed uchimata into ouchi-gari combination at the edge of the mat to smash Papinashvili for a massive ippon.


Safarov's crafty combination attack wins him the bronze.

Final
The final was a scoreless match but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t exciting. Nor did it mean there were no throws involved. In fact, halfway through the match, Takato attacked Dashdavaa with a very European-styled yoko-sutemi that was awarded an ippon by the referee. However, the line judges overruled it upon video playback that showed that it was in fact an overthrow.

The Mongolian was given a second lease of life but before he could spring any effective attacks, Takato struck again with the very same technique. And again, it resulted in an overthrow. No score. At the end of the match, Takato was ahead on penalties (one shido against two), which meant he had won Japan the first gold medal in the men’s competition.


The final was decided by penalties, Takato threw Dashdavaa twice (though in both cases, they were overthrows).


Final Result
1. TAKATO, Naohisa (JPN)   
2. DASHDAVAA, Amartuvshin (MGL) 
3. KIM, Won Jin (KOR)  
3. SAFAROV, Orkhan (AZE)
5. GANBAT, Boldbaatar (MGL)  
5. PAPINASHVILI, Amiran (GEO)   



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