Monday, August 31, 2015

Neil Adams (Competition & Training)

Former World Champion reflects on his competition career and training approaches. He also talks about the standard of judo champions of yesteryear compared to the champions of today. And of course, he talks about his famous juji-gatame and the development of his newaza in general.

Neil Adams on Competition & Training
Neil recollects some thoughts about competition and training.
Posted by JudoCrazy on Monday, August 31, 2015

Neil Adams Interview (2015 Astana World Judo Championships)

IJF TV commentator and former World Champion Neil Adams sat down with JudoCrazy at the end of the 2015 Astana World Judo Championships for a discussion about various aspects of the competition. Topics covered:

a) The defeat of champions
b) Technical trends
c) Tactical play
d) Favorite players
e) Newaza hunters

Neil Adams on the 2015 Astana World Championnships
IJF TV commentator and former World Champion Neil Adams sat down with JudoCrazy at the end of the 2015 Astana World Judo Championships for a discussion about various aspects of the competition. Topics covered:a) The defeat of championsb) Technical trendsc) Tactical playd) Favorite playerse) Newaza hunters
Posted by JudoCrazy on Sunday, August 30, 2015

World Championships 2015, Astana DAY 6

Women: +78kg  | Men: -100kg | +100kg

The World Championships 2015 provided one last unmissable day of individual action on Saturday as Olympic champion Teddy Riner won a record-breaking eighth world title in Astana and the Frenchman was the only judoka to retain their title from the 14 winners a year ago.

The team competition will bring the last World Championships before Rio 2016 Olympic Games to a close on Sunday as the world will have one more chance to see their heroes compete on the greatest stage on the IJF World Judo Tour.

Olympic champion and French idol Teddy RINER (FRA) was battling for a record-breaking eighth world crown to surpass Japan’s TAN Ryōko (née Tamura) and TONG Wen (CHN) who were tied on seven world gold medals.

RINER, 26, who was in action once previously this year when he took gold at the World Judo Masters in May, also had the aim of becoming the only world champion from a year ago to successfully retain their title in Kazakhstan.

Olympic and world champions fell dramatically on all six days of the individual competition as new talents arrived on the world level and contenders became medallists with less than a year until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.   

The individual competition finished with 13 out of 14 world titles changing hands as RINER not only showed that he is a class apart in his own category but also incredible nerve in the limelight as the umpteen members of the media waited to question France’s heavyweight superstar.  


+78kg: YU Already on her Way to Rio

In the final match of the women’s category, YU Song (CHN) and TACHIMOTO Megumi (JPN) were opposed to replace, on the top of the world, the Cuban Idalys ORTIZ. Favourite of the competition, YU Song confirmed her World Masters title obtained earlier this year in Rabat, Morocco, by winning by a penalty. This offers the nineteenth gold medal to China at the world championships since the event exists and their first podium in Astana. 

In the first bronze medal contest, YAMABE Kanae (JPN) faced Ksenia CHIBISOVA (RUS) and after a minute, the Japanese was already leading by a yuko scored with an action-reaction movement. A few seconds later, she didn’t give any opening to CHIBISOVA to escape from an immobilisation for ippon, to win her first senior world medal.

The second bronze medal contest could have been one of the possible finals of the day in the women’s +78kg as Olympic and current world champion, Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) was opposed to MA Sisi (CHN). Much smaller than her opponent, the Cuban was nonetheless faster and immediately after the attempt to counterattack MA Sisi, ORTIZ immediately followed her action on the ground to immobilise the Chinese for ippon, offering the first medal of this championship to Cuba.

For several years, China is present on the international scene in the women’s + 78kg weight category. Once again, the Chinese athletes demonstrated that in Astana, with the semifinal between YU Song (CHN) and MA Sisi (CHN). Both of them qualified for the first semifinal of the category without being really challenged, Yu Song, winner of World Masters in Rabat in 2015, confirming her role as one of the favourites for the Olympic title, next year in Rio, if the qualification does not escape her to the benefit of her compatriot, Ma Sisi.

If there is one undeniable fact that is that both Chinese judoka know perfectly one another and that the rivalry is great between them to win the ticket to Rio 2016. In those conditions it is difficult to develop spectacular judo. Thus it is a tight fight which the public followed and only a small yuko differentiated the two athletes to the benefit of YU Song.

Once again, times were tough for the current world champions, since the Cuban Idalys ORTIZ (CUB), the reigning world and Olympic champion, had herself been eliminated in the quarterfinals by TACHIMOTO Megumi (JPN) who fought CHIBISOVA Ksenia (RUS) for a place in the final. Even before the final block began, with this semi-final, CHIBISOVA already achieved her best performance of the year, since in 2015 she only achieved a fifth place in the Grand Slam of Baku. As both fighters received two shidos during the regular time, golden score was needed and obviously, CHIBISOVA seemed to have a little advantage, but the Japanese exploited the first mistake of the Russian to score a yuko with a Japanese-style o-uchi-gari.

YU, Song (CHN) vs. TACHIMOTO, Megumi (JPN)

Bronze Medal Fights
YAMABE, Kanae (JPN) vs. CHIBISOVA, Ksenia (RUS)
ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB) vs. MA, Sisi (CHN)

YU, Song (CHN) vs. MA, Sisi (CHN)

Repechage finals
YAMABE, Kanae (JPN) vs. ZAMBOTTI, Vanessa (MEX)
ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB) vs. KONITZ, Franziska (GER)

Final Results
1. YU, Song (CHN)
2. TACHIMOTO, Megumi (JPN)
3. ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB)
3. YAMABE, Kanae (JPN)
5. CHIBISOVA, Ksenia (RUS)
5. MA, Sisi (CHN)
7. KONITZ, Franziska (GER)
7. ZAMBOTTI, Vanessa (MEX)


-100kg: Sixth Gold for Japan and World Title for HAGA

The battle between the two Germans, Karl-Richard FREY (GER) and Dimitri PETERS (GER), definitely has a positive impact on their performance. This time it was last year’s bronze medallist at the Chelyabinsk world championships, FREY, who entered the final, against HAGA Ryunosuke (JPN). After three minutes, FREY, penalised two times already, was running after HAGA, whose attacks were all dangerous. Controlling the situation without issues, finally HAGA added one more title for the Japanese delegation.

The first bronze medal fight opposed Toma NIKIFOROV (BEL) and Cyrille MARET (FRA). After a few seconds, NIKIFOROV injured a finger and was looking physically diminished. Slowly but surely MARET was pushing to make NIKIFOROV penalised, which he was three times for passivity. But a world medal is a world medal and the Belgian took his courage in both hands to throw MARET two times for ippon and to win his first world medal.

The defending world champion, Lukas KRPALEK (CZE), having been eliminated in semifinal, faced the Olympic bronze medallist Dimitri PETERS (GER) for a place on the podium, in a fight of the strong men. Taking advantage of a mistake from KRPALEK, PETERS thrust his opponent into the tatami for a waza-ari, which was corrected to an ippon, offering a second world medal to the German.

The morning was long and trying for the current world champion, Lukas KRPALEK (CZE), and every fight was a real battle. He won with a small penalty only in the first round, against Artem BLOSHENKO (UKR). Then it took him three minutes 34 seconds before he could find the solution against the 2013 world champion, Elkhan MAMMADOV (AZE), and KRPALEK, who looked untouchable last year, was thrown with a yuko in the middle of the fight. In the quarter-finals again, the battle was tough to surpass Toma NIKIFOROV (BEL). Although he scored twice, the Belgian managed to superbly counter KRPALEK, but only for one yuko, which was very close to a waza-ari. The Czech could finally relax a little before attacking his semifinal against Karl-Richard FREY (GER), who, however, seemed to gain momentum throughout the preliminary rounds. The German eliminated in the quarter-final, 2008 Olympic champion, Naidan Tuvshinbayar (MGL), after a battle that had to go to golden score before FREY could finally find an opportunity to score. In the semifinal, again FREY produced a fantastic effort and he catapulted KRPALEK with an incredible sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi for ippon.

In the second half of the draw, Cyrille MARET (FRA), who for several years has demonstrated his raw power and is tipped as a possible world medallist, pulled himself to the semifinals, having beaten on the way the national hero, Maxim RAKOV (KAZ), world champion in 2009 in Rotterdam. The French, who never got a medal at this level of competition, seemed to have his chances today in Astana though. In the semifinals he was opposed to the little known Japanese, HAGA Ryunosuke, even if he has already won the Düsseldorf Grand Prix this year. For more than four minutes, both MARET and HAGA were fighting for the sleeve. It was obvious that the first who could control the fabric, would be dangerous and that is exactly what the Japanese did with less than one minute on the scoreboard. Under pressure with his two penalties, HAGA caught MARET’s sleeve once and immediately launched uchi-mata for yuko. The fight was over and the French may have many regrets.

FREY, Karl-Richard (GER) vs. HAGA, Ryunosuke (JPN)

Bronze Medal Fights
NIKIFOROV, Toma (BEL) vs. MARET, Cyrille (FRA)
PETERS, Dimitri (GER) vs. KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE)

KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE) vs. FREY, Karl-Richard (GER)
MARET, Cyrille (FRA) vs. HAGA, Ryunosuke (JPN)

Repechage finals
NIKIFOROV, Toma (BEL) vs. NAIDAN, Tuvshinbayar (MGL)
MAMEDOV, Chingiz (KGZ) vs. PETERS, Dimitri (GER)

Final Results
1. HAGA, Ryunosuke (JPN)
2. FREY, Karl-Richard (GER)
3. PETERS, Dimitri (GER)
5. KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE)
5. MARET, Cyrille (FRA)
7. MAMEDOV, Chingiz (KGZ)
7. NAIDAN, Tuvshinbayar (MGL) 

+100kg: The King Riner Remains the King for the eighth time
The hotly-awaited fight of the whole competition, the final of the men’s heavyweight category, was a rematch of last year’s final between Teddy RINER (FRA) and SHICHINOHE Ryu (JPN). Would SHICHINOHE be able to find the solution against Riner? That was the question the world was asking. The mark of the great champions is always bring able to evolve and RINER came to Astana with new techniques including his sutemi-waza which he applied after the Japanese dropped on his knees after a minute of fight for waza-ari. A few penalties for passivity later given to both athletes, and again Riner applied his new technique for yuko this time.

The first bronze medal match opposed the German Andre BREITBARTH and the Georgian Adam OKRUASHVILI (GEO). In the beginning of the fight, OKRUASHVILI took the lead with an ample uchi-mata, BREITBARTH heavily landing on his side for waza-ari. The mission of the Georgian then became clear: to keep the score. Despite two penalties, he succeeded and won the second bronze medal of his delegation on the occasion of the 2015 edition of the World championships.

The second bronze medal match saw Iakiv KHAMMO (UKR) and KIM Sung-Min (KOR) trying to access the podium. After forty seconds, KIM engaged a right handed arai-goshi, but suddenly the Korean could feel that his feet were taking off and a second later his back was landing flat on the floor of the Alau Ice Palace for ippon and the bronze medal to Iakiv KHAMMO.

Superlatives are lacking to describe the career of the French giant, Teddy RINER: Olympic champion and now eight-time world champion. Each of his appearances on the international circuit attracts crowds and media. Whether in Paris or Astana, most young people want an autograph or a photo with the star of judo. It is not easy to prepare and focus in these conditions. Still, nothing seems to disturb the Guadeloupean, who once again did not give much chance to his opponents in the preliminary rounds of the competition. After an initial fight, against the Estonian Juhan METTIS, Riner successively eliminated Iurii KRAKOVETSKII (KGZ) and Andre BREITBARTH (GER) to find in the semifinal the Korean KIM Sung-Min (KOR) who he already knows very well. The Korean, a little overshadowed by the aura of the defending world champion, managed to go through the knockout stage with no major problems and started his semifinal with the will to try to dethrone the king Riner. With a first sumi-gaeshi, Riner scored a waza-ari, followed with an immobilisation for yuko. Totally dominated by the incredible power of the French, Kim couldn’t avoid the second sumi-gaeshi for a second waza-ari, synonymous of qualification to the final for the current world champion, who therefore will be the only reigning world champion capable to keep his title.

In the second half of the draw, Adam OKRUASHVILI (GEO), winner of the first European Games last June, produced a great effort to reach the semi-finals where he was opposed to the vice-world champion 2014, the Japanese SHISHINOHE Ryu (JPN), who immobilised the Georgian to enter his second world final in a row.


Bronze Medal Fights
KHAMMO, Iakiv (UKR) vs. KIM, Sung-Min (KOR)

RINER, Teddy (FRA) vs. KIM, Sung-Min (KOR)

Repechage finals
BREITBARTH, Andre (GER) vs. BOR, Barna (HUN)
HEINLE, Sven (GER) vs. KHAMMO, Iakiv (UKR)

Final Results
1. RINER, Teddy (FRA)
3. KHAMMO, Iakiv (UKR)
5. KIM, Sung-Min (KOR)
7. BOR, Barna (HUN)
7. HEINLE, Sven (GER)

+100kg Competition Report

Pool A
There was no question Teddy Riner was the overwhelming favorite not just in this pool but in the whole category. But he had some difficulty with his first opponent, Juhan Mettis (EST), whom he was only able to throw in the last minute of the contest, with harai-makikomi for ippon. Against Lurii Krakovetskii (KGZ), Riner used sumi-gaeshi to throw him for waza-ari and then osoto-gari for ippon. Then against Andre Breitbarth he threw with his favorite uchimata for waza-ari, pinned him for yuko and then obtained a submission for ippon.

Pool B
Kim Sung-min (KOR) defeated Or Sasson (ISR) with harai-makikomi for yuko and then pinned him for ippon. Next, he did a slick side takedown on Daniel Natea (ROU) that scored ippon. Then, he used a hand technique to take Bana Bor (HUN) down for a waza-ari and achieved a submission during hold down for ippon.

Pool C
Okruashvili defeated Maciej Sarnacki (POL) with a soto-makikomi for waza-ari. After that, he threw Michal Horak (CZE) with a side takedown for waza-ari and a hand technique for ippon. But his most impressive performance was his match against Sven Heinle whom he threw with ura-nage for ippon.

Pool D
Ryu Shichinohe (JPN) had some trouble with the equally athletic David Moura (BRA) and had to rely on penalties to win. Against Daniel Allerstorfer (AUT), he did better, scoring a yuko from uchimata. In his third match, he scored a superb ippon against Iakiv Khammo with a reaching osoto-gari.

Riner had fought Kim many teams and defeated him each time, without any problem. And so it was here too. First, he threw Kim with a sumi-gaeshi for waza-ari and pinned him. Remarkably, the South Korean managed to escape, conceding a yuko. Riner then proceeded to throw him with sumi-gaeshi again for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

Okruashvili was the bigger player but it also meant he was less mobile compared to Shichinohe. With him being down on penalties, Okruashvili attempted a desperate kosoto-gari which was stopped by the Japanese, who followed up with a pin for ippon.

Okruashvili didn't have an easy fight with Breitbath and his uchimata attempt looked at one point like it was going to be countered but the German didn't have enough power to push through the counter and landed largely on his back for waza-ari. It was enough for the Georgian to take the bronze, though he was breathing very heavily for it.

As if wanting give the audience a better show, Khammo countered Kim opening attack, a soto-makikomi with a massive ura-nage that had the South Korean airborne. Ippon for bronze.

Ever since he very nearly scored against Riner in their gold medal match at the 2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships, Shichinohe has been regarded as the one player who might be able to upset the mighty Frenchman. They had something of a rematch in the Rabat World Masters final where Riner smashed Shichinohe for ippon. But still, many wondered whether Shichinohe might be able to pull off a surprise this time around. Riner wasn't able to throw him for ippon but it wasn't a close match. He was thrown twice with sumi-gaeshi, Riner's seeming new favorite technique, once for waza-ari and once for yuko. It was yet another gold for Riner.

Shichinohe, Riner, Okruashvili & Khammo

+78kg Competition Report

Pool A
Yu Song (CHN) was the top ranked player and for good reason. She demolished Belkis Zehra Kaya (TUR) with an ashi-guruma for waza-ari, an uchimata for yuko and then osaekomi submission for ippon. Next, she countered Larisa Ceric (BIH) with uchimata-gaeshi for waza-ari. Lastly, she threw Kanae Yamabe (JPN) with kosoto-gari for yuko and then pinned her for ippon. She had sailed easily into the semi-finals.

Pool B
Yu's compatriot, Ma Sisi (CHN) was equally devastating in her pool, throwing Rochele Nunes (BRA) with soto-makikomi for waza-ari. A failed side takedown by Nagira Sarbashova (KGZ) led to a pin and submission for ippon. Then, she threw Vanessa Zambotti (MEX) with soto-makikomi for ippon.

Pool C
Megumi Tachimoto started off well, throwing Emilie Andeol (FRA) with harai-goshi for ippon. However, her next two opponents Kim Minjeong and Idalys Ortiz both took her into Golden Score where she won by penalties. She had made it through the semi-finals but did not look as convincing as Yu or Ma.

Pool D
Ksenia Chibisova (RUS) was noticeably smaller than most players in this weight class. But she did remarkably well against players much bigger than she was. She won her first match, against Katarzyna Furmanek (POL) through hansoku-make for ippon due to shidos. She thrilled the crowd with her determination as she attacked her much bigger opponent, Svitlana Iaromka (UKR) with osoto-gari for wazari, uchimata makikomi for yuko and finally, harai-goshi for ippon. It was a crowd pleaser. Her next fight, against the much larger Franziska Konitz was equally stunning, with a win by sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi for ippon. 

The first semi-final match was an all-China affair. Both players obviously knew each other well and cancelled out each other's attacks but in the end Yu managed to pull off a hand counter for yuko.

In the other semi-final, Tachimoto had a tough time against the smaller and more mobile Chibisova who took her into Golden Score. However, once there, Tachimoto was able to catch her with ouchi-gari for yuko.

In the first bronze medal match, Yamabe managed to counter Chibisova's tai-otoshi to score a yuko. Later in the match, she caught Chibisova on the ground and pin her for ippon.

In the other bronze medal match, Ortiz pulled off a stunning utsuri-goshi that had Ma in the air but she fell on her front so there was no score. But once on the ground, the Cuban was able to turn her over and pin her for ippon.

Yu and Tachimoto were not able to throw each other so it became a tactical match with Yu attacking relentlessly, causing Tachimoto to incur two shidos.

Tachimoto, Yu, Yamabe & Ortiz

Sunday, August 30, 2015

-100kg Competition Report

Pool A
As the defending World Champion Lukas Krpalek (CZE) was the obvious favorite but he had a surprisingly hard time against his first opponent, Artem Bloshenko (UKR) and had to rely on penalties to win. Strangely, he did a lot better against former World Champion Elkhan Mammadov (AZE) whom he threw with ogoshi for waza-ari and then pinned for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. In his next match, against Toma Nikiforov (BEL), he was already ahead by two yukos when he attacked with osoto-gari and nearly got countered for a big ippon -- except he was able to spin out to his side and concede only a yuko.

Pool B
Karl-Richard Frey (GER) didn't have it easy in his first round match, against Karl Reyes (CAN) who has a powerful uchimata. Frey managed to turn the tables on the Canadian and threw him with an uchimata for yuko. He had a much easier time against Benjamin Fletcher (GBR), whom he threw twice with uchimata for yuko and waza-ari and then with koshi-guruma for ippon. Tuvshinbayar Naidan (MGL) took him into Golden Score but once there, he was able to throw the Mongolian with osoto-gari for waza-ari.

Pool C
As to be expected, Cyrille Maret's (FRA) first match, against Maxim Rakov (KAZ) was a tough one with the Frenchman winning through penalties. He threw Domenico Di Guida with a running tomoe-nage which scored yuko and a pin for ippon. Against Chingiz Mamedov (KGZ) he was on fire, throwing him with a counter and an osoto-gari for yuko and waza-ari respectively, before finishing off with another osoto-gari for ippon.

Pool D

Henk Grol (NED) was the expected winner in this pool but it was the relatively unknown Ryunosuke Haga (JPN) who emerged top of the pool. Haga started off well, defeating Stefan Jurisic (SRB) with uchimata for ippon. After that, he unexpectedly threw Grol with uchimata for ippon as well. In his next match, against Cho Guham (KOR), he was down on penalties with 30 seconds left when he managed to pull off an uchimata for waza-ari. This brought him up against the very strong Dmitri Peters (GER), whom he couldn't throw but managed to beat through penalties.

In the Frey-Krpalek match, most people would have bet on Krpalek but Frey surprised everyone by countering Krpalek's osoto-gari for ippon.

In the other semi-final match, Haga was losing to Maret on penalties when, with just 20 seconds left, he pulled off an uchimata that scored yuko.

Nikiforov's bronze medal performance is the stuff of legend. Early in the bout, he severely injured his left hand, to the point that he could barely hold on to Maret's sleeve. By the last minute of the match, he had already racked up three shidos and was in danger of getting a hansoku-make when he was able to capitalize on a poor attack by Maret to counter for a waza-ari. Maret, then realizing that time was running out, threw caution to the wind and tried to throw Nikiforov. A flurry of attacks and counter attacks resulted in a soto-makikomi by the Belgian for a crowd-pleasing ippon. It was an amazing display of courage and determination.

The smart money would have been on Krpalek but perhaps spurred on by his compatriot Frey's success in this competition, Peters was able to stunningly counter Krpalek's kosoto-gari for ippon.

Haga had shown some remarkable uchimata throwing power in the earlier rounds but Frey was on a roll as well, so it was bound to be a tough fight. In the end, neither could throw the other. But by the end of the match, Haga had one penalty less than Frey, and thus was the new gold medalist.

World Championships 2015, Astana DAY 5

Women: -70kg | -78kg |  Men: -90kg

Three new world champions were inaugurated at the World Championships on Thursday as a day of surprises sent shockwaves through the sport at the Alau Ice Palace.

The men’s -90kg and women’s -70kg and -78kg categories had their chance to shine in Astana as 138 judoka graced the tatami.

Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON (USA) and world champion Mayra AGUIAR (BRA) were eliminated in the -78kg pool stages while -70kg top seed Kim POLLING (NED) bowed out in the quarter-finals.

Greek great and reigning world champion Ilias ILIADIS (GRE) fell in the -90kg second round while world silver medallist Krisztian TOTH (HUN) succumb to resurgent Russian opposition in the quarter-finals.

Day five, which was trending in the world of social media on Twitter in Porto Alegre, Brazil, one of the strongest judo hotbeds in the country, saw a host of new names seize the occasion on the world stage.

Astana Grand Prix winner Komronshokh USTOPIRIYON (TJK), who at 22 years old was one of the youngest judoka in the -90kg field, put in a spirited display as he rose to the occasion in the capital city.

USTOPIRIYON (TJK) came to the IJF after his maiden Grand Prix win last year asking for support and was dually granted financial assistance to compete more regularly and on the biggest stages in the sport.

The Tajikistan fighter defeated Karolis BAUZA (LTU), Isao CARDENAS (MEX), Noel VAN T END (NED) and Aaron HILDEBRAND (GER) to propel himself into the semi-finals. USTOPIRIYON lost to eventual winner GWAK Dong Han (KOR) in the semi-final and unfortunately was injured in the process which meant that he was denied the opportunity to fight fellow beaten semi-finalist BAKER Mashu (JPN) for bronze and finished a career-best fifth-place. 

On Saturday, the sixth day of the World Championships, the final three remaining individual categories will be contested in the form of the women’s +78kg heavyweight division and the men’s -100kg and +100kg divisions with Olympic champion and seven-time world champion Teddy RINER (FRA) aiming for a record-breaking eighth  world title. 


-70kg: Incredible EMANE on the Top of the World Again

The final between Maria BERNABEU (ESP) and Gevrise EMANE (FRA) burst into life after only 16 seconds the French veteran dropped on her knees in an incredibly quick drop-seoi-nage for ippon which steered Emane back to the top of the world.

The first bronze medal fight between Fanny Estelle POSVITE (FRA) and ARAI Chizuru (JPN) was expeditious as the French counterattacked an uchi-mata attempt from ARAI to score an indisputable ippon.
For the second bronze medal fight, Yuri ALVEAR (COL) met Bernadette GRAF (AUT). After one minute, the defending world champion scored a first waza-ari with o-uchi-gari to take a strong lead. Tiring after a long competition day, ALVEAR had a lot of difficulties to keep up her pace. Penalised three times, she was thrown for yuko, but held on to secure a new world medal.

Times were hard for the favourites in the -70kg weight category since the first four athletes in the world ranking list were eliminated during the elimination phase. If Kim POLLING (NED) and Fanny Estelle POSITIVE could still claim a medal, but maximum of bronze, Laura VARGAS-KOCH (GER) and Kelita ZUPANCIC (CAN) did not have the same luck. However, Maria BERNABEU (ESP), who was not part of the most likely contenders for the world title, managed to eliminate in the quarterfinals the world number one, Kim POLLING, who won the last World Masters in Rabat. The team of Austria, represented by Bernadette GRAFF (AUT), integrated the last four at the expense of the French Fanny-Estelle POSVITE, who earlier eliminated the Canadian ZUPANCIC. Using the momentum of her victory against POLLING, BERNABEU integrated the final, winning by penalty against the Austrian.

In the second part of the draw, the triple world champion, Yuri ALVEAR (COL), had the secret hope, once again, to get on the top of the podium in Astana, but Gévrise EMANE (FRA), whose longevity at this level commands admiration, did not permit the Columbian to advance. The French qualified for a new semi-final by inflicting two beautiful yuko to the current world champion, the first with a drop-seoi-nage and the second with a blitz ura-nage.

In pool D, ARAI Chizuru (JPN), slowly but surely, progressed round after round to reach the semi-finals and to join EMANE, thus remaining in the race for gold in the last weight category in which Japan had never won the gold medal. But the experienced EMANE once again entered the final of a world class event and joined BERNABEU, by defeating the Japanese, who was penalised with two shido while the former only received one.

BERNABEU, Maria (ESP) vs. EMANE, Gevrise (FRA)

Bronze Medal Fights
POSVITE, Fanny Estelle (FRA) vs. ARAI, Chizuru (JPN)
ALVEAR, Yuri (COL) vs. GRAF, Bernadette (AUT)

BERNABEU, Maria (ESP) vs. GRAF, Bernadette (AUT)
EMANE, Gevrise (FRA) vs. ARAI, Chizuru (JPN)

Repechage finals
POLLING, Kim (NED) vs. POSVITE, Fanny Estelle (FRA)

Final Results
1. EMANE, Gevrise (FRA)
2. BERNABEU, Maria (ESP)
3. ALVEAR, Yuri (COL)
3. POSVITE, Fanny Estelle (FRA)
5. ARAI, Chizuru (JPN)
5. GRAF, Bernadette (AUT)

-78kg: Historical day for Japan and UMEKI

The last final of the day opposed UMEKI Mami (JPN) and Anamari VELENSEK (SLO). The question was simple: will VELENSEK be able to imitate her teammate from the -63kg weight category and add one title for Slovenia, or will Japan be able to win a fifth gold medal on the occasion of the 2015 edition of the World Championships?

The Slovenian seemed to take the lead during the first half of the fight even if nothing was written on the scoreboard. Both athletes then spent a long sequence on the floor, but VELENSEK’s defense was impenetrable. After four even minutes, it was time for the golden score. The second sequence on the floor was the undoing of the Slovenian. With this victory in -78kg, Japan enters one more time into the legend of judo as the home country of judo has now won a world title in every possible weight category, as the women’s -78kg was the last category never won by an athlete from the country of the rising sun.

In the first bronze medal fight, Luise MALZAHN (GER) totally upset Audrey TCHEUMEO (FRA). The French engaged a right handed-o-soto-gari but without control and without putting the German out of balance. The punishment was immediate as MALZAHN counterattacked with o-soto-otoshi for waza-ari, immediately followed with an immobilisation for ippon.

The second place on the podium was decided between Marhinde VERKERK (NED) and Daria POGORZELEC (POL). The Polish was penalised once, giving the victory to Marhinde VERKERK and the very first medal of the Dutch delegation.

World champion and Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON (USA), who won the World Masters in Rabat in May, could not advance beyond the second round as she was blocked by Hyunji YOON (KOR) who threw HARRISON with an unstoppable counterattack during the Golden Score. The road of the semifinals cleared of the American allowed outsiders to take their chance. Thus Pogorzelec Daria (POL) eventually qualified to face UMEKI Mami (JPN) who had settled her account as the top seed in the pool B to Luise Malzahn (GER). It is noteworthy to say that during the first rounds, Pogorzelec had beaten the current world champion, Mayra Aguiar (BRA). UMEKI secured a place in the final with an immobilisation for ippon.

After a difficult start, Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA) managed to recover to also reach the semifinal and meet Polish Pogorzelec on her way to a new title. It must be said that despite extraordinary power, the French appeared very timid during her first fight against Yalennis CASTILLO (CUB). After this winded beginning, Tcheumeo ventured to eliminate JOO Abigel (HUN) by ippon and Marhinde VERKERK (NED) by waza-ari.

In Pool C, unsurprisingly, was the top seed Anamari VELENSEK (SLO) who qualified for the semis, ready to imitate her compatriot Tina TRSTENJAK, who was world champion yesterday in the -63kg. In the quarterfinal, Anamari VELENSEK prevailed against the Olympic silver medallist, Gemma GIBBONS (GBR). With two penalties against one, TRSTENJAK stepped into the final.

UMEKI, Mami (JPN) vs. VELENSEK, Anamari (SLO)

Bronze Medal Fights
MALZAHN, Luise (GER) vs. TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA)
VERKERK, Marhinde (NED) vs. POGORZELEC, Daria (POL)

TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA) vs. VELENSEK, Anamari (SLO)

Repechage finals
YOON, Hyunji (KOR) vs. MALZAHN, Luise (GER)
VERKERK, Marhinde (NED) vs. GIBBONS, Gemma (GBR)

Final Results
1. UMEKI, Mami (JPN)
2. VELENSEK, Anamari (SLO)
3. MALZAHN, Luise (GER)
3. VERKERK, Marhinde (NED)
5. TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA)
7. GIBBONS, Gemma (GBR)
7. YOON, Hyunji (KOR)


-90kg: GWAK beats DENISOV to world gold and the red backpatch

Second at the world championships, but that was in 2009 in Rotterdam, Kirill DENISOV (RUS) again had a chance to inscribe his name among top names of the judo world. But first, he had to face the forceful GWAK Dong Han (KOR), who was the first to attack with the left handed drop-seoi-nage for no score. 

At halfway point of the final, neither DENISOV nor GWAK had found the opportunity to throw each other, until the South Korean engaged a tremendous drop-seoi-nage for waza-ari. Six years after Rotterdam and his lost final, the story stuttered again for DENISOV, and the 23-year-old GWAK Dong Han could win his first world title.

Due to an injury, USTOPIRIYON Komronshokh (TJK) could not compete and BAKER Mashu (JPN) won the bronze medal.

The battle between Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) and Beka GVINIASHVILI (GEO) turned to the advantage of LIPARTELIANI, who after having scored a first waza-ari with uchi-mata, scored ippon with a arai-makikomi technique.

The -90kg weight category was announced as extraordinarily tough and the knockout stages did not disappoint the public. In the first rounds, spectators and judo fans could be the witnesses of several finals before the actual one, like TOTH Krisztian (HUN) against Kirill DENISOV (RUS), or Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) against GWAK Dong Han (KOR).

Thus, in the battle between the Hungarian and the Russian, DENISOV managed to undermine his opponent, TOTH Krisztian, who was promised a bright future after his second place last year behind his idol, the Greek Ilias ILIADIS. The latter was also quickly defeated by Lkhagvasuren Otgonbaatar (MGL) in the second round of the competition. While Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) was eliminated in the quarter-final by Gwak Dong Han (KOR), the eyes of the Georgian delegation looked on Beka GVINIASHVILI (GEO) for a place in the last four. Out of breath, but still standing, GVINIASHVILI managed to keep a small advantage over BAKER Mashu (JPN), who believed until the last second that the Georgian could be penalised, which would have given him the victory. GVINIASHVILI was probably still looking for fresh air, when he entered the tatami against DENISOV in the semi-final. The Russian took that opportunity to defeat him and to enter for the second time the final of the world championships.

The surprise of the day came from the qualification for the semifinals of Komronshokh USTOPIRIYON (TJK), who has been supported by the IJF, in a quarter of the draw that that included the Olympic and world champion, Iliadis, and the 2013 World Champion, the Cuban Asley Gonzalez (CUB). If USTOPIRIYON did not have to directly face them, since they were quickly eliminated, the Dutch Noel VAN T END (NED), world number two and winner of the Samsun and Qingdao Grand Prix in 2015, was among his scalps. In the semifinal he faced GWAK Dong Han. The Tajik was more active but less effective than the South Korean, and one main attack was enough to score a yuko with a drop-seoi-nage.

DENISOV, Kirill (RUS) vs. GWAK, Dong Han (KOR)

Bronze Medal Fights
BAKER, Mashu (JPN) vs. USTOPIRIYON, Komronshokh (TJK)

USTOPIRIYON, Komronshokh (TJK) vs. GWAK, Dong Han (KOR)

Repechage finals
TOTH, Krisztian (HUN) vs. BAKER, Mashu (JPN)

Final Results
1. GWAK, Dong Han (KOR)
2. DENISOV, Kirill (RUS)
3. BAKER, Mashu (JPN)
5. USTOPIRIYON, Komronshokh (TJK)
7. TOTH, Krisztian (HUN)

-78kg Competition Report

This was a category full of surprises and no defeats were as shocking as the ones that happened in this pool, which had the two top favorites in this category, Kayla Harrison (USA) and Maya Aguair (BRA), jostling for top spot. As it turned out, both got defeated by relative unknowns. Harrison lost to Yoon Hyunji (KOR) while Aguair lost to Daria Pogorzelec (POL) who went on to top the pool. The Polish player's first fight was against Lkhamdegd Purevjargal (MGL), whom she threw with a well-time kosoto-gari for waza-ari. Next, she threw Victoria Turks (UKR) with drop ippon-seoi-nage for ippon. Nobody expected her to defeat Aguair but she did just that, throwing her not once, but twice. First with reverse seoi-nage for yuko and then with drop ippon-seoi-nage for waza-ari. This pit her against fellow underdog Yoon. It was a tough battle but the Polish player prevailed with an osoto-gari attack that scored yuko.

Little-known Mami Umeki (JPN) defeated her first opponent, Zhang Zehui (CHN) with harai-goshi for yuko and followed that up with a pin for ippon. She had a hard battle with Guusje Steenhuis (NED) and prevailed through penalties. Her toughest opponent, however, was Luise Malzahn (GER) whom she also beat through penalties. Nevertheless, she was through to the semi-finals. 

Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA) had a tough first match, against Yalennis Castillo (CUB) and had to rely on penalties to win. Against Joo (HUN) she did a lot better, throwing her opponent with tai-otoshi for ippon. She was also in good form in her fight against Marhinde Verkerk, whom she countered with a hand-technique for yuko, then threw with tai-otoshi for waza-ari.

Anamari Velensek (SLO) threw her first opponent, Anastasiya Dmitrieva (RUS) with soto makikomi for yuko and then pinned her for ippon. She also used a pin to defeat Yujin Park (KOR). Gemma Gibbons (GBR) proved to be a harder opponent but she also succumbed to Velensek's soto-makikomi which scored yuko.

Pogorzelec had done extremely well to get to this point but she could not get past Umeki who threw her with osoto-gari for waza-ari and then immediately pinned her for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

Velensek's match against Tcheumeo was an extremely tight one with the Slovenian winning through penalties.

Tcheumeo had fought well for most of the day but a half-hearted osoto-gari against Malzahn got countered for waza-ari. The German player then immediately clamped on a pin for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

The other bronze medal match, between Verkerk and Pogorzelec was a tactical one and in the end, the more experienced Dutch player won out through penalties.

Velensek fought Umeki well during regular time and brought the match into Golden Score. A careless drop onto the mat allowed Umeki to pin her for ippon and the gold medal.

Velensek, Umaki, Malzahn & Verkerk

-90kg Competition Report

Kirill Denisov (RUS) had a very tough pool with top players like former World Champion Tiago  Camilo (BRA) and Guillaume Elmont (NED) as well as last year's World Silver Medalist Krisztian Toth in way. But he was in good form and would not be denied his place at top of the pool. His match against Camilo featured a lot of heavy grip fighting and in the end, he won on penalties. He had an easier time against Rafael Romo (CHI), taking him down with a standing armlock for yuko, then pinning him for ippon. His match against Elmont was as expected, a heavily tactical one but Denisov's gripping was superior and Elmont got hansoku-make after accruing four shidos. This brought Denisov up against Toth. Again, it was a tactical match but Denisov is as tactical a player as you can get and in the end, he won through penalties. 

Powerhouse Beka Gviniashvili (GEO) knocked down Quedjau Nhabali (UKR) for waza-ari and then proceeded to hold him down for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. In his second match, he threw Patryck
Ciechomski (POL) with a very low hip technique for waza-ari, then with another low hip technique for yuko before pinning him for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. In his next match, he threw Aleksandar Kukolj (SRB) with a side takedown for yuko and then pinned him for ippon. His toughest battle in the pool would undoubtedly be against Mashu Baker (JPN) who he had difficulty throwing. However, a poorly executed sumi-gaeshi by Baker allowed Gvniashvili to pin him for a yuko before the Japanese player escaped. That was enough for the Georgian to win the match, though.

At the start of the day, nobody would have expected Komronshokh Ustopiriyon (TJK) to top the pool but he was the man on form in his pool. He beat his first opponent, Karolis Bauza (LTU) with drop seoi-nage for yuko. Then, he beat Isao Cardenas (MEX) with a fantastic uchimata for ippon. After that he unexpectedly took out top favorite, Noel Van T End (NED) with a perfectly timed kouchi-gari against a tomoe-nage attempt, for ippon. He wasn't able to throw his next opponent, Aaron Hilderbrand (GER) and in the end, had to rely on penalties to win. But it didn't matter. He was through to the semi-finals.

In this pool, all eyes were on Varlam Liparteliani (GEO) but it was Gwak Dong Han (KOR) who came through in the end. He threw his first opponent Robert Florentino (DOM) twice with drop morote-seoi-nage, once for yuko and then for ippon. Next, he threw Vadym Synyavsky (UKR) for drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for waza-ari. He didn't have to do another throw to get the ippon though because Synyavsky accrued up to four penalties resulting in a hansoku-make. Against Ruiz Zajac (ESP) he got one yuko from reverse seoi-nage and another -- in a rare departure from a drop technique -- through osoto-gari. His toughest battle, of course, was against Liparteliani. He only managed to score a yuko with an ouchi-gari counter against the Georgian's kosoto-gari attempt but that was enough to win him the match.

The battle between the tactician Denisov beats and the powerhouse thrower Gvniashvili promised to be an exciting one. Denisove surprised Gvniashvili by showing that there was much of a thrower in him, taking the Georgian over for waza-ari twice, once with tai-otoshi and once with uchimata.

Ustopiriyon had done remarkably well getting up to the this point but Gwak's throwing power proved too much for him and he conceded a yuko from a very low, rolling morote-seoi-nage. 

Baker got his bronze by default as Ustopiriyon was injured and had to forfeit the match. The Japanese didn't seem to happy about his bronze though.

The second bronze medal match was an all-Georgian affair, pitting Liparteliani against Gvniashvili. The more experienced Liparteliani threw the young upstart twice, once with a hip technique for waza-ari and then with soto-makikomi for ippon. Like Baker, Liparteliani didn't seem satisfied with his bronze medal win. When you're aiming for gold, anything less will do. 

GOLDThe South Koreans are as tactical as they are capable in throwing and after Gwak dropped under Denisov to throw him for waza-ari with morote-seoi-nage, he fought tactically until time ran out. It was gold for South Korea.
Denisov, Gwak, Baker & Liparteliani