Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Men's -66kg

Pool A
The top seed and the man to watch in this pool was Brazil's up-and-coming Charles Chibana. Former -60kg double World Champion Rishod Sobirov was in this category too. But the one who emerged top of the pool was France's Loic Korval who relied on tai-otoshi and seoi-nage to take him all the way to the semi-final. 

First, he dispatched Papua New Guinea's Ashaan Nelson with a very fast, very low spinning tai-otoshi for yuko and proceeded to pinned him for ippon.

Next, he threw USA's Bradford Bolen USA with two very low, rolling seoi-nages for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

With Belarus's Dzmitry Shershan, Korval mixed it up a bit, first throwing him with his trademark spinning tai-otoshi and then a drop seoi-nage for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

In his quarterfinal match against Sobirov, he first threw with a low osoto-gari for waza-ari, followed by a drop seoi-nage for ippon. 

Pool B
Unlike Sobirov who has not adjusted so well to the new weight, Ukraine's Georgii Zantaraia has done better and was an exciting prospect in this pool. However, also in this pool was Japan's double World Champion Masashi Ebinuma who was not seeded as he had been away due to injury.

    This match could have easily been the final.


But in Chelyabinsk, he was in top form, strangling Aruba's Jayme Mata for ippon. Next, it was kouchi-makikomi against North Korea's Hyon Song Chol which scored waza-ari. He lit up the scoreboard in his match against Kazakhstan's Sergei Lim, first throwing him with osoto-gari for yuko. Then he did a massive sode-tsuri-komi-goshi to the right which only scored yuko because it was an overthrow. To show his versatility, Ebinuma then proceed to throw Lim with drop sode-tsuri-komi-gohi to the left, scoring waza-ari. Finally, he threw Lim with a hip throw for a waza-ari-awasatte ippon. It was a masterful display of judo against a tough opponent.

His quarterfinal match against Zantaraia was the match of the day, with many overthrows and near throws which would have landed most players flat on their backs. But Zantaraia is a cat and always managed to land on his front. In the end Ebinuma won by penalties in Golden Score.

Pool C
Russia's innovative Mikhail Pulyaev opened up the accounts with a drop morote-seoi nage against Moldavia's Valeri Muravski for waza-ari and then followed up with a classic kouchi-gari for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

Against his Tunisan opponent Houcem Khalfaoui, he used his trademark cross-gripped side takedown to score waza-ari and then a cross grip seoi-nage into osoto-gari combination for ippon. 
His Portuguese opponent Diogo Cesar was wary of Pulyaev's attacks and managed to fend them off but in the process accrued four shidos and got a hansoku-make disqualification.

This pit Pulyaev against his teammate Kamal Khan-Magomedov. Instead of an exciting match like you'd expect when two top Japanese faced each other, these two Russian players looked like they were doing light randori. Khan-Magomedov didn't even try any attacks and got hansoku-make after accumulating four shidos in around two minutes. It was quite a disappointing quarterfinal.

Pool D
After the first day's gold medal win by the Mongolian Ganbat Boldbataar in the -60kg division, there were great expectations from Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj but he was knocked out of contention in third round match when he unexpectedly got pinned by Duanbin Ma of China.

Instead, the player that came through was Japan's newcomer Kengo Takaichi who won his first match with a drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for ippon. He had a tougher time against Spain's Sugoi Uriarte and had to rely on penalties to win. His next match, against Britain's Colin Oates, was tough as well and he got through with just a yuko score from a reverse seoi-nage.

He was back on form in his quarterfinal match, against Ma, whom he threw with a superb morote-seoi-nage for ippon. With this win, there would be two Japanese in the semi-final.

Semifinal 1
France's Korval was outclassed by Ebinuma but he managed to avoid conceding any scores. His incurred penalties though and in the end, he had two shidos on the board. Ebinuma was through to the final.

Semifinal 2
It was a close fight between Pulyaev and Takaichi and in the final moments, all that separated them was a shido penalty that the Japanese had incurred. In the last 20 seconds, Takaishi came in with a desperate reverse seoi-nage that was countered by Pulyaev for waza-ari.

Bronze 1
As expected the Zantaraia vs Takaichi fight would be a brutal one. There were no scores on either side but at the end of the match, Zantaraia was ahead by shido. It was a hard fought victory.

Bronze 2
Khan-Magomedov win his bronze medal with a counter against Korval's drop seoi-nage attempt. Russia is guaranteed of two medals.

Final

In contrast to his earlier battle with Zantaraia, Ebinuma's final against Pulyaev seemed like a cakewalk. It took him about two minutes to settle on the grip he wanted and he launched the Russian with a massive hip throw turned into uchimata for a beautiful ippon. Ebinuma is now a three-time world champion.

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