Monday, August 24, 2015

-48kg Competition Report

Japan is traditionally very strong in this category although in recent years, 2013 World Champion Urantsetseg Munkhbat of Mongolia has grown to become a top favorite. To increase its chances at gold, Japan entered two world champions, Ami Kondo, who had won her world title in 2014 and Haruna Asami, who had won hers in 2010 and 2011.

In Pool A, Asami proved she was far from over the hill by topping her pool and defeating Munkhbat along the way. She won her first match, against Israel's Shira Rishony, with uchimata for ippon. That pit her up against Munkhbat, whom she defeated narrowly by shido. It was a tough match. She won her next match more decisively against Ukraine's Maryna Cherniak, with a hold down for ippon, to claim her place in the semi-finals.

In Pool B, Brazilian-born Taciana Lima, who now fights for Guinea-Bissau, is the top seed. But it was another Brazilian, the lesser-known Nathalia Brigida, who emerged tops. She won her first match, against Moldova's Cristina Budescu, by throwing her twice before pinning her for ippon. It was a good start. Next, she beat Anara Zumali Kyzy of Kirghistan with a massive osoto-gari for ippon in just under a minute. Dilara Lokmanhekim of Turkey proved to a tougher opponent and Brigida had to be content with an osoto-gari for yuko during Golden Score. Her next opponent was also a tough one, Romania's Monica Ungureanu, who took her to Golden Score before losing by a very low koshi-guruma for waza-ari.

Pool C looks to be the hardest one of all with Argentina's 2014 Chelyabinsk World Silver Medalist Paula Pareto, Brazil's Sarah Menezes, Belgium's Charline Van Snick and Hungary's Eva Csernoviczki all battling for pole position. Pareto proved that her silver medal last year was no fluke by emerging victor in this very difficult pool. She has a very powerful drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi which she used to great effect in her first match, against Vietnam's Van Ngoc Tu, whom she threw twice -- once for yuko and once for waza-ari, though it could have easily been an ippon. Her next match was a bruising battle with Belgium's Charline Van Snick and Pareto had to rely on penalties to win that one. Just as tough was Hungary's Csernoviczki but this time Pareto managed to drop undernearth with a cross-grip seoi-nage for ippon.

In Pool D, all eyes were on 2014 Chelyabinsk World Champion Kondo who looked like she had a clear run to the top. But little-known Jeong Bo-Kyeong of South Korea got in her way. The scrappy Jeong won her first match, against Kazakhstan's Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh with a shido in Golden Score. She then showed her hrowing power by smashing Spain's Julia Figueroa with a devastating cross-grip osoto-gari for ippon. That pit her against Kondo, whom she surprised with a drop morote-seoi-nage for yuko. It was enough for her to win the match and a place in the semi-finals.

Asami convincingly defeated Brigida with kouchi for waza-ari and then pinned her for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon to get to the final.

Pareto only managed to throw Jeong for yuko with her trademark drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi but it was enough to win the match.

Jeong, who had been impressive all day, won her bronze medal in style by throwing Cherniak with a side-takedown for ippon.

Kondo, who is good at groundwork, pinned Brigida for ippon to win her bronze medal, although it seemed like little consolation to the 2014 World Champion who was clearly disappointed in her failure to make the final. 

The final was a classic case of technique versus tactics and this time, tactics won out. Asami looked to dominate at first, unleashing a flurry of attacks that nearly throw Pareto several times. At one point, Asami was ahead when Pareto got a shido for passivity. That penalty must have shook up the Argentinian player who immediately switched gears and started attacking Asami non-stop, causing the Japanese to accrue two penalties by the time the clock ran out. Her strategy worked and Pareto was able to add gold to her silver medal from last year.

Asami, Pareto, Jeong & Kondo

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