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.

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