Sunday, May 29, 2016

World Judo Masters 2016 - Guadalajara, Mexico DAY THREE

(Via IJF)

The World Judo Masters 2016, the final Rio 2016 qualification event, came to a star-spangled conclusion on Sunday as Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON (USA) won through against her leading rival for Rio 2016 gold in Mayra AGUIAR of Brazil. 

Guadalajara was treated to ippons aplenty as Pan America’s first World Judo Masters left an impression with the spectatoirs and the global audience who saw the best of the best judoka give their all in judo’s all-star event.

It was a last stand for many judoka as the champions of judo gave one last account themselves at one of the greatest stages in world sport before returning home to plot their respective gameplans for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. A host of already qualified judoka were able to not only test themselves against the best judoka in the sport but came to Mexico to win gold and to capture a seeded position for the Olympic Games which is offered to the top eight judoka on the Olympic qualification list in each category.

Mexico’s final day of Olympic qualification action featured the women’s -78kg and +78kg categories and the men’s -90kg, -100kg and +100kg categories at the atmospheric Lopez Mateo Sports Centre.   


Japan’s heavyweight HARASAWA Hisayoshi has been widely seen as the leading fighter to threaten the supremacy of Olympic champion and eight-time world champion Teddy RINER (FRA) this summer. HARASAWA – who was unbeaten on the international stage since 2014 – was shockingly and convincingly beaten by Daniel NATEA (ROU) who weighed in at an imposing 178kg.

After the men’s heavyweight medal ceremony NATEA spoke to the media. The Romanian, who is prospering under the Roman Judo Federation’s new management led by former world champion Daniel LASCAU, said: “I came here with the goal of being seeded for the Olympics and I am really delighted to achieve that.

“I knew about the unbeaten run of HARASAWA but I fought to my own strengths and I am very pleased. I came here straight from a training camp in Antalya, Turkey, and I am always preparing to make big throws as I did there and today.”

One of the most intense and discussed rivalries in the sport, Kayla HARRISON (USA) and Mayra AGUIAR (BRA), was renewed just two months before the Olympics where they will be expected to meet again and potentially with the Olympic title at stake.

Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON won the 17th chapter her long-running duel against AGUIAR and said: “I’m feeling good, I really like the sound of Kayla HARRISON, two-time Olympic champion, that is the goal and it’s all about Rio. I have special rivalry with Mayra and in years to come I will think that I shared some of the best moments of my career with her on the mat.

“Now I will take my Olympic preparation one day at a time. I practice my ne-waza a lot and my coaches said to keep the pressure on in the final. I thought I could catch her with a juji-gatame and her arms were there and I was able to. This summer I want to win my second Olympic title.”

Japanese young gun BAKER Mashu (JPN) put in a herculean effort to win the -90kg title and in doing so astoundingly became the number one seed for the Olympics.

BAKER said: “It was really important for me to win here and to become the top seed. This was goal and I am satisfied. I grew up watching Ilias ILIADIS, he is a legend of judo and I was very pleased to be able to defeat him today. My dream has always been to go to the Olympics and now it is a reality.”

Mr. YAMASHITA Yasuhiro, IJF Hall of Famer and IJF Development Director, was present at a World Judo Masters for the first time and shared his insightful thoughts on his experience of the final qualification event for Rio 2016.

“I am very pleased to be at the World Judo Masters in Mexico for what has been an excellent competition. I have a very positive impression of Guadalajara and the people here in my first visit to the country.

“The IJF brings events to such regions in order to encourage the continued development of our sport around the world. Mr. VIZER, IJF President, has worked hard with his team to make judo more attractive to global audiences and we can see this at the Masters here which is a very important event.

Four-time world champion and 1984 Olympic champion YAMASHITA looked back on his own Olympic preparations and success as he offered his advice to the athletes bound for Rio 2016.

“My main focus was to study my opponents, to know their style and from there I knew how I would compete. I never lost to a non-Japanese judoka because I put a lot of importance in my kumi-kata (gripping). I am very excited for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. One match that I know many people hope to see is Teddy RINER against HARASAWA and I feel the same. There are always surprises, unexpected events at the Olympics, and maybe we will see this in Rio de Janeiro.”
IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER with the Rio 2016 Olympic group of referees and IJF Head Referee Directors


-78kg: HARRISON heads to Rio with the advantage over AGUIAR           

Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON (USA) wrote the 17th and final chapter of her back and forth rivalry against Olympic bronze medallist Mayra AGUIAR (BRA). The star duo were tied 8-8 coming into the Masters and the highly-anticipated final materialised with American HARRISON taking a priceless win over the Brazilian. HARRISON was sharper in ne-waza as AGUIAR laid on her front and thought her arms were not exposed as she anticipated a stop being called to the action. However, HARRISON, who led by a yuko, was able to capture an arm and pulled away to make the Brazilian submit as USA won their second gold medal in Guadalajara. 

In the first semi-final HARRISON eased past World Judo Masters silver medallist Natalie POWELL (GBR) by ippon with a momentous koshi-guruma on the edge of the tatami as the Welsh fighter was unable to challenge the throne of the American. In the second semi-final Guusje STEENHUIS (NED) lost out to Olympic bronze medallist Mayra AGUIAR (BRA) who registered a yuko and a waza-ari which were the only scores of the contest.

The first bronze medal was won by STEENHUIS who defeated Olympic silver medallist Gemma GIBBONS (GBR). British hero GIBBONS, who has shown fantastic fighting spirit throughout this cycle as she has been hampered by injuries, was scored on with a yuko from a sasae-tsurikomi-ashi as Dutch fighter STEENHUIS had yet another successful outing for the Netherlands. The second bronze medal contest was won by European bronze medallist POWELL who dismissed Almaty Grand Prix winner ZHANG Zhehui (CHN) to move into the top eight on the Olympic qualification list. Cardiff-based POWELL won their first head-to-head contest and a second consecutive World Judo Masters podium place as she blasted ahead with a uchi-mata earning a waza-ari. The British judoka added a second waza-ari and is now poised to become the first Welsh female judoka to compete at an Olympics Games.                                                      

AGUIAR, Mayra (BRA) vs HARRISON, Kayla (USA)                                                                         

Bronze Medal Fights
STEENHUIS, Guusje (NED) vs GIBBONS, Gemma (GBR)                                
POWELL, Natalie (GBR) vs ZHANG, Zhehui (CHN)                                  

Final Results 
1. HARRISON, Kayla (USA)                                                                                  
2. AGUIAR, Mayra (BRA)  
3. STEENHUIS, Guusje (NED)                                     
3. POWELL, Natalie (GBR)  
5. GIBBONS, Gemma (GBR)                                    
5. ZHANG, Zhehui (CHN)                                     
7. GALEONE, Assunta (ITA)  
7. TURKS, Victoriia (UKR)                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

+78kg: Cuba’s Olympic champion ORTIZ ready to defend her title in Rio 

Olympic champion Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) has won two world titles since being crowned at London 2012 and is now the overwhelming favourite to retain her Olympic crown and golden backpatch in Rio. ORTIZ, 26, is a big stage performer and took the fight to world number three MA Sisi (CHN) who could be identified by her newly-dyed purple hair. ORTIZ failed with an audacious drop seoi-nage before both judoka were penalised for passivity after a series of low-key exchanges. Cuban power settled the final as ORTIZ took control with a waza-ari and held down MA with a kami-shiho-gatame for 15 seconds and gold.

In the semi-finals ORTIZ downed Nihel CHEIKH ROUHOU (TUN) by ippon after three minutes while in the second semi-final Japan were dealt another heavyweight blow as Rio-bound YAMABE Kanae (JPN) fell by ippon to MA.

The first bronze medal was won by YAMABE who bounced back from defeat to deny European Championships silver medallist Svitlana IAROMKA (UKR) by ippon after 90 seconds.The second bronze medal was won by Almaty Grand Prix bronze medallist Larisa CERIC (BIH) who won the finest medal of her career at the expense of CHEIKH ROUHOU by ippon in the second minute.               


MA, Sisi (CHN) vs ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB)                                                                                                
Bronze Medal Fights
YAMABE, Kanae (JPN) vs IAROMKA, Svitlana (UKR)                                
CERIC, Larisa (BIH) vs CHEIKH ROUHOU, Nihel (TUN)                  

Final Results
1. ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB)                                    
2. MA, Sisi (CHN)                                     
3. YAMABE, Kanae (JPN)
3. CERIC, Larisa (BIH)                       
5. IAROMKA, Svitlana (UKR)                                                                   
5. CHEIKH ROUHOU, Nihel (TUN)                  
7. ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA)            
7. SAVELKOULS, Tessie (NED)                                                                                                                                                


-90kg: From Kodokan start to top Olympic seed status for BAKER       

World bronze medallist BAKER Mashu (JPN) claimed the -90kg World Judo Masters title in his first time competing at the invite-only event. BAKER won more admirers with a heroic display which culminated with a pulsating golden score victory over Tyumen Grand Slam bronze medallist Khusen KHALMURZAEV (RUS). BAKER, 21, who was icing his right shoulder during the break after a lung-busting semi-final win over Ilias ILIADIS (GRE), scored a yuko after one minute and 32 seconds of added time after both judoka had the crowd and their coaches on the edge of their seats. The win lifts BAKER to the top of pile as the number seed one for his first Olympics in Rio. BAKER started judo aged six at the Kodokan and has gone from starting his journey at the spiritual home of the sport to returning as a member of the national team for weekly training and now as a distinguished member of Japan’s Olympic team. There is still more to come from KHALMURZAEV, as there is from BAKER, as the two men delivered an extraordinary contest. 

In the first semi-final BAKER (JPN) outlasted Greek great Ilias ILIADIS (GRE) by a yuko and a waza-ari. BAKER, who was nine years old when ILIADIS won the 2004 Athens Olympics, scored a waza-ari with a driving ouchi-gari and added a yuko from an innovative piece of te-waza as both men fought purely on instinct in the closing minute. In the second semi-final Axel CLERGET (FRA) who has already spoken of his desire to continue for one more cycle was unsuccessful against Tyumen Grand Slam bronze medallist Khusen KHALMURZAEV (RUS) as he lost to a sumi-gaeshi for ippon.

The first bronze medal was awarded to Almaty Grand Prix bronze medallist Mihael ZGANK (SLO) as CLERGET was second best in the opening contest of the final block on day three. The Frenchman, who has openly conceded that he is the back-up for Rio 2016 for French number one Alexandre IDDIR (FRA), was penalised for going out and for a false attack while ZGANK was only penalised once for passivity in the scoreless contest to earn a career-best result. The second bronze medal went to Baku Grand Slam winner Marcus NYMAN (SWE) who will now be a near certainty for a seeded position at the Olympics. ILIADIS could not compete in the bronze medal contest due to an injury.   

KHALMURZAEV, Khusen (RUS) vs BAKER, Mashu (JPN)   

Bronze Medal Fights
CLERGET, Axel (FRA) vs ZGANK, Mihael (SLO)                                   
ILIADIS, Ilias (GRE) vs NYMAN, Marcus (SWE)                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Final Results
1. BAKER, Mashu (JPN)                                                                           
2. KHALMURZAEV, Khusen (RUS)                                    
3. ZGANK, Mihael (SLO)                                                                              
3. NYMAN, Marcus (SWE)                                
5. CLERGET, Axel (FRA)                                      
5. ILIADIS, Ilias (GRE)                              
7. GROSSKLAUS, Ciril (SUI)                                 
7. MEHDIYEV, Mammadali (AZE)                                                                                                                                                                                                               

-100kg: Azeri GASIMOV grabs top seed status for Rio 2016     

World number one Elmar GASIMOV (AZE) was Azerbaijan’s top performer on day three as Peter SEISENBACHER saw more success for his leading judoka in Guadalajara. GASIMOV guaranteed top seed status for Rio 2016 by defeating former World Judo Masters bronze medallist Cyrille MARET (FRA) by ippon after three minutes. Azerbaijan finished the Masters with two gold medals and two bronze medals, a fantastic return for the nation at the most crucial event before the Games and a telling sign of SEISENBACHER being a master of timing and tactics. 

In the first semi-final GASIMOV beat the rugged Martin PACEK (SWE) on shido penalties 1:2 before MARET bested former world champion Lukas KRPALEK (CZE) in the second semi-final by the same method with a margin of 0:1 on shidos.

The first bronze medal was won by KRPALEK who defeated African Championships silver medallist Lyes BOUYACOUB (ALG). The Czech fighter is nearing his best form at the right top as he opened the scoring with a waza-ari from a drop morote-seoi-nage before adding a second waza-ari to take the contest. The second bronze medal was won by PACEK who defeated former world silver medallist Jose ARMENTEROS (CUB). The Swede screamed with delight as he confirmed a seeded position for the Olympics by rolling his Cuban opponent for two waza-ari as the hard-working PACEK continues to mystify opponents on the IJF World Judo Tour and now has the perfect start for Rio 2016.          

MARET, Cyrille (FRA) vs GASIMOV, Elmar (AZE)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Bronze Medal Fights
KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE) vs BOUYACOUB, Lyes (ALG)                       
PACEK, Martin (SWE) vs ARMENTEROS, Jose (CUB)           

Final Result
1. GASIMOV, Elmar (AZE)                                                                   
2. MARET, Cyrille (FRA)                                        
3. KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE)    
3. PACEK, Martin (SWE)                                      
5. BOUYACOUB, Lyes (ALG)                        
5. ARMENTEROS, Jose (CUB)                         
7. KORREL, Michael (NED)                                    
7. DARWISH, Ramadan (EGY)                                                                                                                                                                                                    

+100kg: Romania’s NATEA stuns the favourites to break into heavyweight elite

European bronze medallist Daniel NATEA (ROU) looked like a new man at the World Judo Masters as he won all four of his fights by ippon including the final against European Championships silver medallist Or SASSON (ISR). NATEA had never beaten SASSON but was unstoppable on Sunday as he burst ahead after five seconds with a waza-ari from a harai-makikomi and then moved into the osaekomi for 15 seconds as the stunned Israeli could not escape a kesa-gatame hold. Romanian colossus NATEA will now turn his attention to the one and only, Olympic champion and eight-time world champion Teddy RINER (FRA).  

In the first semi-final NATEA overcame KOKAURI Ushangi (AZE) by ippon after leading by a waza-ari before the athletic SASSON beat BOR Barna (HUN) with a drop seoi-nage for a yuko which settled the contest after five minutes.

Harasawa's two-year unbeaten run on the international stage was emphatically ended by NATEA (ROU) in th quarter-finals. NATEA defeated Japan's Rio 2016-bound heavyweight and uchi-mata specialist by ippon in arguably the biggest shock of the competition.

The first bronze medal went to HARASAWA Hisayoshi (JPN) as BOR was injured and could not come out for the final block contest. The second bronze medal went to Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Roy MEYER (NED) as he fought back from a waza-ari deficit against KOKAURI to level the score and then jumped into osaekomi to hold down the Azeri. MEYER shifted from a sankaku-gatame position into a mune-gatame with surprising agility after countering a weak uchi-mata to take control and end the contest on the ground. The flamboyant Dutchman was feeling the Mexican rhythm as he showed off his fancy footwork by dancing his way out of the field of play.                
SASSON, Or (ISR) vs NATEA, Daniel (ROU)

Bronze Medal Fights
BOR, Barna (HUN) vs HARASAWA, Hisayoshi (JPN)                   
MEYER, Roy (NED) vs KOKAURI, Ushangi (AZE)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
Final Result
1. NATEA, Daniel (ROU)                                                                                   
2. SASSON, Or (ISR)                                     
3. HARASAWA, Hisayoshi (JPN)                    
3. MEYER, Roy (NED)
5. BOR, Barna (HUN
5. KOKAURI, Ushangi (AZE)                                                                   
7. KAMBIEV, Aslan (RUS)                        
7. JABALLAH, Faicel (TUN)                                                                           

Saturday, May 28, 2016

World Judo Masters 2016 - Guadalajara, Mexico DAY TWO

(Via IJF)


The World Judo Masters thrilled an animated crowd on day two as the four gold medals were shared by three countries at the Lopez Mateo Sports Centre on Saturday.

Day two was a sensational affair as Olympic and world medallists reconfirmed their Rio 2016 credentials while there was everything to gain for judoka chasing a seeded position for the Games which is reserved for the top eight on the Olympic qualification list.

Four categories were engaged in action as the women’s -63kg and -70kg judoka shared the tatami with the men’s -73kg and -81kg categories in a day of raw emotion and pulse-pounding judo as many stars competed for the final time before the Olympics.  

Travis STEVENS (USA) celebrates -81kg gold 

Every judoka wanted a place on the podium at the invite-only World Judo Masters, to hear their anthem, to see their flag raised and to experience that winning feeling one last time before it matters the most at Rio 2016.  

IJF Hall of Famer and double Olympic champion Peter SEISENBACHER has been there and won it as a judoka and as a coach and is currently presiding over the Azerbaijan team who caught the eye on Friday and Saturday in Guadalajara.

Austrian great SEISENBACHER, who was in the chair on Friday when Orkhan SAFAROV won -60kg gold and when Nijat SHIKHALIZADA gained -66kg bronze, stressed the importance of his team’s methodically planned preparation for the World Judo Masters.

“We knew it was important to arrive early,” said the 1985 world champion. “We arrived here well in advance of the competition as I know that an athlete can hold two litres of water from a long-haul flight, which can cause problems with the weight of an athlete. You also have to take into consideration the elevation here, as we are 1598 metres above sea level.

“We are pleased with the results of the team and there is still a lot more work to do before Rio 2016.”

The invite-only World Judo Masters is the final qualification event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

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-63kg: TASHIRO sweeps ahead to prolong World Judo Masters reign   

Double world bronze medallist TASHIRO Miku (JPN) retained her World Judo Masters title as she defeated Almaty Grand Prix bronze medallist Juul FRANSSEN (NED) in the -63kg final on day two. FRANSSEN, who was still very much in contention for Rio 2016, started with an ouchi-gari attempt and that was the best of her opportunities as TASHIRO was still prodding despite being largely contained by her Dutch opponent. TASHIRO prepared for her first Olympics in the ideal fashion by scoring a waza-ari from a beautiful piece of ashi-waza and saw out the remaining time for gold. 

The first bronze medal was won by Asian Championships bronze medallist YANG Junxia (CHN) who showed her character to come from behind to beat European Championships silver medallist Kathrin UNTERWURZACHER (AUT). YANG fell behind to a waza-ari from a sasae-tsurikomi-ashi as UNTERWURZACHER began to apply pressure. However, it was YANG who ended up in control on the ground as she held down her rival for 20 seconds and ippon with a mune-gatame hold. The second bronze medal was claimed by European Championships bronze medallist Anicka VAN EMDEN (NED) who defeated Almaty Grand Prix silver medallist TSEND-AYUSH Tserennadmid (MGL) on shido penalties. TSEND-AYUSH fought to apply a koshi-jime strangle but VAN EMDEN held firm and went on to prevail by shido penalties in a scoreless contest with three shidos against the Asian fighter and only one against the Dutch star who is expected to receive the nod for Rio 2016. The Netherlands can only send one fighter in the -63kg category and have to choose between VAN EMDEN and FRANSSEN as both are well-placed in the qualification zone.                                
FRANSSEN, Juul (NED) vs TASHIRO, Miku (JPN)                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Bronze Medal Fights
UNTERWURZACHER, Kathrin (AUT) vs YANG, Junxia (CHN)            
VAN EMDEN, Anicka (NED) vs TSEND-AYUSH, Tserennadmid (MGL)                                 

Final Results 
1. TASHIRO, Miku (JPN)                                                           
2. FRANSSEN, Juul (NED)                            
3. YANG, Junxia (CHN)                                                                     
3. VAN EMDEN, Anicka (NED)             
5. UNTERWURZACHER, Kathrin (AUT)                                                  
5. TSEND-AYUSH, Tserennadmid (MGL)                                 
7. KATIPOGLU, Busra (TUR)                                 
7. VALKOVA, Ekaterina (RUS)                     


-70kg: World leader POLLING primed for Olympic Games   

World number one Kim POLLING (NED) left no doubt that she is the favourite for the -70kg title at Rio 2016 by besting a game Dusseldorf Grand Prix winner Bernadette GRAF (AUT) in the -70kg final. POLLING has experienced her share of highs and lows in this cycle with some indifferent results at times but the classy Dutch fighter proved herself at the most important competition before the Games with a convincing performance in Mexico. GRAF, who also started and ended the day in a seeded position, went behind to a yuko and was then trapped in osaekomi by a kami-shiho-gatame and a sapped GRAF had to submit after 12 seconds as the runaway world leader moved out of sight with an additional 700 points.    

The first bronze medal was claimed by triple world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Yuri ALVEAR (COL) who saw off Almaty Grand Prix silver medallist TSEND AYUSH Naranjargal (MGL). World number three ALVEAR, who is arguably her country’s best chance of Olympic success in Rio, threw world number 17 TSEND AYUSH with her favoured osoto-gari as she put her right arm over the top of the Mongolian and surged forward for a booming ippon which was applauded by the home crowd. The second bronze medal contest was won by Asian Championships silver medallist KIM Seongyeon (KOR) who came on strong in the latter half of the contest to defeat Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Sally CONWAY (GBR). CONWAY worked hard for a ne-waza opening and the British fighter was in the ascendancy for the opening minute but KIM grew in confidence and was able to catch the Bristol-born judoka with a ura-nage for a waza-ari and that settled the contest after five minutes. The result confirms KIM as a seeded fighter for the Games while CONWAY will leave bitterly disappointed but will refocus when she arrives home and the lifelong goal of an Olympic medal is still very much a possibility in August. 

POLLING, Kim (NED) vs GRAF, Bernadette (AUT)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
Bronze Medal Fights
ALVEAR, Yuri (COL) vs TSEND AYUSH, Naranjargal (MGL)                               
KIM, Seongyeon (KOR) vs CONWAY, Sally (GBR)     


Final Results
2. GRAF, Bernadette (AUT)                                                                        
3. ALVEAR, Yuri (COL)                                  
3. KIM, Seongyeon (KOR)       
5. TSEND AYUSH, Naranjargal (MGL)                                   
5. CONWAY, Sally (GBR)                                                                 
7. PORTELA, Maria (BRA)                                   
7. PEREZ, Maria (PUR)                                                                                                                                                                                               


-73kg: Japan’s Tokyo 2020 hope HASHIMOTO earns gold   

Asian Championships winner HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) claimed World Judo Masters gold at the first time of asking as the 24-year-old won the second IJF gold medal of his career which is starting to take off and will surely flourish after the Games. World champion ONO Shohei (JPN) is the chosen one for the Olympics and the Japanese selectors clearly hold HASHIMOTO in high regard to enter him into such a top-class event. Their belief was rewarded as HASHIMOTO, who is the same age as ONO, explosively defeated Tbilisi Grand Prix silver medallist GANBAATAR Odbayar (MGL) with a juji-gatame in the final. HASHIMOTO was as dangerous and effective in tachi-waza as he was in ne-waza and looks set to rival ONO in the weight category after the Olympics. 

The first bronze medal was won by European champion Rustam ORUJOV (AZE) as world bronze medallist AN Changrim (KOR) was unable to compete due to a right shoulder sprain which he suffered in his previous contest. ORUJOV came into the competition with an ankle injury but was desperate to fight and SEISENBACHER said they would take it fight-by-fight and that decision was vindicated with a bronze medal which sealed the Azeri’s spot as one of the top seeds at Rio 2016. The second bronze medal was won by Paris Grand Slam runner-up Denis IARTCEV (RUS) who wasted no time in securing his place on the podium as he forced his way past European Games winner Sagi MUKI (ISR) by ippon after 98 seconds which he will expect to have been enough to be selected by Russian team manager Ezio Gamba for the Olympics as the Italian has a host of Russian judoka to pick from.

HASHIMOTO, Soichi (JPN) vs GANBAATAR, Odbayar (MGL)                                                                                        
Bronze Medal Fights
ORUJOV, Rustam (AZE) vs AN, Changrim (KOR)                                 
IARTCEV, Denis (RUS) vs MUKI, Sagi (ISR)                   

Final Results
1. HASHIMOTO, Soichi (JPN)                                       
2. GANBAATAR, Odbayar (MGL)   
3. ORUJOV, Rustam (AZE)
3. IARTCEV, Denis (RUS)                                  
5. AN, Changrim (KOR)                                         
5. MUKI, Sagi (ISR)                                             
7. SHARIPOV, Mirali (UZB)                                  
7. VAN TICHELT, Dirk (BEL)                                                                                                                                                                       

-81kg: American warrior STEVENS grafts out gold ahead of Games 

Pan American Championships silver medallist Travis STEVENS (USA) won the most important gold medal of his career as he accomplished exactly what he hoped which was top spot in Mexico and with it a seeded position for the Olympics. STEVENS, 30, who was seen by many as one of the best judoka to leave London 2012 empty-handed, found himself in a toe-to-toe clash against Samsun Grand Prix bronze medallist Joachim BOTTIEAU (BEL) in the -81kg final. BOTTIEAU was penalised for not taking a grip before STEVENS was penalised for a false attack. The Belgian was running the risk of prematurely being stopped as he was penalised for passivity and pushing his opponent out which gave him three shidos. BOTTIEAU had a tomoe-nage transition into a juji-gatame from STEVENS scouted but was caught with a sumi-gaeshi with 17 seconds left for a yuko and tapped out after nine seconds in osaekomi. 

STEVENS, who possesses magic in his hands and fire in his heart, smiled with relief and was a hugely popular winner with fans who were watching the live IJF stream and congratulated the American on social media in their droves. The American star said: “I feel really relieved, this takes the pressure off me, as I came here to get a seeded position for the Olympics. Now we will put together a game plan for Rio. I will take 10 days off and then go again. This was one major stepping stone for me towards Rio.”

The first bronze medal was won by Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Roman MOUSTOPOULOS (GRE) who dismissed former Baku Grand Slam winner Alan KHUBETSOV (RUS). Both judoka looked to attack with uchi-mata but were unable to break each other’s balance and the contest was decided on shido penalties as an out-of-sorts KHUBETSOV tired rapidly and was penalised twice while MOUSTOPOULOS looked the fresher of the two and escaped the contest without a shido. The second bronze medal was won by African Championships winner Mohamed ABDELAAL (EGY) who found another level in golden score to extinguish the hopes of Almaty Grand Prix bronze medallist NYAMSUREN Dagvasuren (MGL). The Mongolian tried to set up his drop morote-seoi-nage but ABDELAAL was ready for the attack and then started to ask questions of his opponent as the five minutes of regulation time ended with no scores and a single shido apiece. ABDELAAL was more active and that was acknowledged by the previously impartial crowd who were now in the corner of the Egyptian and he excited them even more when he threw with a rotating ouchi-gari after 43 seconds for ippon and the African fighter will not be overlooked by any opponent at the Olympic Games.   
BOTTIEAU, Joachim (BEL) vs STEVENS, Travis (USA)                      
Bronze Medal Fights
MOUSTOPOULOS, Roman (GRE) vs KHUBETSOV, Alan (RUS)                         
NYAMSUREN, Dagvasuren (MGL) vs ABDELAAL, Mohamed (EGY)                               

Final Results
1. STEVENS, Travis (USA)                               
2. BOTTIEAU, Joachim (BEL)                                                    
3. MOUSTOPOULOS, Roman (GRE)                                               
3. ABDELAAL, Mohamed (EGY)                               
5. KHUBETSOV, Alan (RUS)                                                                        
5. NYAMSUREN, Dagvasuren (MGL)    
7. MAGOMEDOV, Sirazhudin (RUS)                 
7. SILVA MORALES, Ivan Felipe (CUB)                                                                                                                  

Friday, May 27, 2016

World Judo Masters 2016 - Guadalajara, Mexico DAY ONE

(Via IJF)

The World Judo Masters 2016, the final qualification event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, opened on Friday with an all-star line-up looking to build momentum for the Olympics with just 70 days to go until The Greatest Show on Earth.  

The Masters is judo’s all-star competition, a three-day day annual spectacle for the sport’s elite athletes, which is hosted in a different location every year as the marquee event in the sport after the World Championships. The top-16 ranked judoka in each category are invited to compete at the Masters and if a judoka elects to sit this one out to train at home or rest then the next fighter in line on the ranking list will be invited until the category is full.  

Pan America’s first World Judo Masters opened in Guadalajara with the women’s -48kg, -52kg and -57kg categories and the men’s -60kg and -66kg categories. This year’s event is the most crucial event of this entire Olympic cycle as everything hangs in the balance for a section of the field who are chasing direction qualification or a continental quota place which often comes at the expense of a teammate.

At this stage of the campaign it is every judoka for themselves as far as teammates are concerned. The strongest will to win will be rewarded with a place at the Olympic Games and for a select few, the Masters and the subsequent points for a medal can offer a seeded position at the Olympics for judoka who are ranked in the top eight.

The -48kg category was replete with the best of the best in the lightest weight category as Olympic champion Sarah MENEZES (BRA), world number one MUNKHBAT Urantsetseg (MGL), world champion Paula PARETO (ARG), former world champion KONDI Ami (JPN) and Olympic bronze medallist Charline VAN SNICK (BEL) were all fighting for one last opportunity to put forward their candidacy to become Olympic champion.

The official opening ceremony of the World Judo Masters 2016 

Such is the quality of the invite-only Masters event that first round match ups were contests that could headline Grand Prix, Grand Slams and even the World Championships and the Olympics. Even the best of the best have to be at the peak of their powers from the first time they step on the tatami at the Masters or they will succumb to the talents of their well-matched peers in an event of the very highest level.

Olympic and world champions faltered at the very first hurdle while other champions negotiated the most difficult of assignments in overcoming star after star to triumph when it matters the most before the Olympic Games.

As the competition and Guadalajara was heating up, IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER took the occasion of day one of the final qualification event for Rio 2016 to speak with the media, judo fans, judoka, coaches and more in a live Twitter question and answer session.

This was the second live Twitter Q&A with Mr. VIZER after the inaugural edition took place in January 2016. Stay tuned for the full transcript on the IJF website.

The opening ceremony took place prior to the final block on day one as the competition was officially opened in Mexico’s second largest city.

Mr. Alfredo CASTILLO CERVANTES, Minister of Sport of Mexico (above), made the opening address on behalf of the organising committee.

“I want to welcome you all to Guadalajara for the World Judo Masters 2016. Mexico has two women already qualified for the Olympic Games, Vanessa ZAMBOTTI and Edna CARRILLO, and there is a chance that more could qualify during this competition.

“The Mexican Government has invested more than $22.5 million in sport this year alone. Mexico can and will be part of the sporting world’s elite. The IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER is a brave man that faced the system, a man that embraces judo’s values of modesty, respect, self-control and friendship. This is a code every person should adopt in life. The order of sport in the world and in Mexico is of great importance and it reaches millions. I wish you a great World Judo Masters 2016.”

Mr. Jorge Aristóteles SANDOVAL (above), Governor of Jalisco, said: “I would like to welcome you all to Guadalajara, to this cosmopolitan and modern city that is also the birth place of Mexican icons that are identified around the world. Jalisco’s pride goes beyond hosting this competition, as it projects our values to the world. I hope you all enjoy your time in Mexico and I wish everyone a lot of success.”

The stage was set for Mr. Marius VIZER (above), IJF President, to officially open the first World Judo Masters in Pan America.

“Mr. Minister CASTILLO, Mr. SANDOVAL, Governor of Jalisco, Mr. President LARRANGA, PJC and Mexican Judo Federation President, dear official guests of the government, spectators and media, the Masters is one of the most important and greatest events in international judo. Thank you to government of Mexico, the government of Jalisco, thank you to the Mexican Judo Federation, for the honour and opportunity to organise the Masters here in Guadalajara

“The sport is today one of the highest values of humanity, we have to keep and defend that with fairness, fair play, friendship and respect. On behalf of the IJF I want to wish all of you a successful event. Thank you to the athletes, coaches, referees, national judo federation, the supporters and everyone involved in this Olympic cycle. I declare the Masters in Guadalajara open, thank you.”


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-48kg: KONDO warms up for Rio with first World Judo Masters crown       

Olympic champion Sarah MENEZES (BRA) is feeling the pressure of going into a home Games as her country’s first female Olympic judo champion but is using that as a source of inspiration as she showed she is on track for Rio 2016 despite losing her final to former world champion KONDO Ami (JPN) who earned her first international medal of 2016. MENEZES, who could win her country’s first medal in any sport in Rio 2016 as she will compete on day one, was held down by KONDO who won her first World Judo Masters title at the second attempt. KONDO, 21, now has two wins from two meetings against MENEZES, and this success came from ne-waza as the young Japanese pounced on her rival to trap her in a tate-shiho-gatame hold for 20 seconds and the maximum score. Both judoka could again grace the podium in Rio 2016 and it will not come as a surprise if Brazilian MENEZES or Japan’s KONDO occupies top spot on 6 August. 

The first bronze medal contest was won by Baku Grand Slam winner Julia FIGUEROA (ESP) who fought off the challenge of European bronze medallist Dilara LOKMANHEKIM (TUR) to achieve the best result of her career. The contest between two of Europe’s best at this weight saw the left-handed Spaniard outfight the right-handed Turkish judoka and the Valencia-based FIGUEROA scored a yuko from an uchi-mata with 90 seconds left. Both judoka will move on to Rio 2016 and could be there or there abouts in the medal shake-up on the opening day at the Olympic Games. The second bronze medal was won by Almaty Grand Prix bronze medallist Maryna CHERNIAK (UKR) who defeated Almaty Grand Prix silver medallist JEONG Bo Kyeong (KOR) for a surprise result. World number 10 JEONG was sporting a new close cut hairstyle but still possessed her explosive judo as she took the lead with a waza-ari from a thunderous drop seoi-nage after 90 seconds. World number 15 CHERNIAK, whose twin sister Inna competes in visually impaired judo and is a Rio 2016 Paralympic hopeful, was far from finished as she countered a weak attack from JEONG to throw for ippon and by far the best result of her career. 
MENEZES, Sarah (BRA) vs KONDO, Ami (JPN)               
Bronze Medal Fights
FIGUEROA, Julia (ESP) vs LOKMANHEKIM, Dilara (TUR)                                   
JEONG, Bo Kyeong (KOR) vs CHERNIAK, Maryna (UKR)             

Final Results
1. KONDO, Ami (JPN)                                                               
2. MENEZES, Sarah (BRA)    
3. FIGUEROA, Julia (ESP)                                     
3. CHERNIAK, Maryna (UKR)                                              
5. LOKMANHEKIM, Dilara (TUR)                                           
5. JEONG, Bo Kyeong (KOR)                                     
7. MUNKHBAT, Urantsetseg (MGL)                               
7. MESTRE ALVAREZ, Dayaris (CUB)                                                                                      

-52kg: World champion NAKAMURA storms towards third Olympics              

World champion NAKAMURA Misato (JPN) stormed towards her third Olympic Games with gold as the Japanese fighter wants to earn a gold backpatch on her judogi at her third attempt. Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist NAKAMURA has won three world titles with the last coming last year to reclaim her spot as Japan’s leading performer at this weight and has looked imperious since wearing her red backpatch which is reserved for all 14 world champions. The Japanese, whose longevity is rare among the Japanese with their abundance of riches and constant flow of new talents, defeated former European champion Natalia KUZIUTINA (RUS) to win the Masters title. NAKAMURA scored a yuko with ashi-waza and followed up with a yoko-shiho-gatame hold for 20 seconds and ippon.   

The first bronze medal was clinched by Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Annabelle EURANIE (FRA) as the tactically adept Frenchwoman defeated Erika MIRANDA (BRA). Veteran EURANIE, 33, who is one of the tallest, strongest, experienced and most awkward judoka in the category, has been pressed throughout this cycle for the one spot in Rio 2016 by teammate and Olympic bronze medallist Priscilla GNETO (FRA) who lost her opening contest today and appeared to suffer a knee injury. MIRANDA never imposed herself and was penalised three times in a scoreless contest as EURANIE pitched an unblemished record to equal her result from 2015 and surely settle which French fighter will receive the nod for the Olympics. The second bronze medal was won by Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA) as the young Italian is now poised for a seeded slot at the Olympics having beaten top seed Andreea CHITU. GIUFFRIDA, 21, repeated her 2015 bronze medal defeated number one seed CHITU by a waza-ari as she countered an uchi-mata from the Romanian for the score with uchi-mata-sukashi. The Italian is one of the best youngsters on the circuit and now has all the momentum going into her first Olympic Games while CHITU will at least think that it’s better to fall short here than in Rio de Janeiro in August.                     
NAKAMURA, Misato (JPN) vs KUZIUTINA, Natalia (RUS)                                                                                           

Bronze Medal Fights
MIRANDA, Erika (BRA) vs EURANIE, Annabelle (FRA)                             
CHITU, Andreea (ROU) vs GIUFFRIDA, Odette (ITA)                                 

Final Results
1. NAKAMURA, Misato (JPN)                                            
2. KUZIUTINA, Natalia (RUS)                        
3. EURANIE, Annabelle (FRA)                                                                                        
3. GIUFFRIDA, Odette (ITA)                                 
5. MIRANDA, Erika (BRA)  
5. CHITU, Andreea (ROU)       
7. COHEN, Gili (ISR)                
7. MA, Yingnan (CHN)                                                                                                                                                                                        

-57kg: Dynamic DORJSUREN retains Masters title for Mongolia

Defending World Judo Masters champion DORJSUREN Sumiya (MGL) retained her title as she emerged from the star-studded field to overcome Samsun Grand Prix winner Helene RECEVEAUX (FRA) in the -57kg final. DORJSUREN scored first – and ultimately last – as her seoi-nage earned a yuko and RECEVEAUX lacked the conviction and energy that the occasion required as her potential Olympic place hung on the outcome of this contest as Olympic bronze medallist Automne PAVIA (FRA) was left at home. For RECEVEAUX, this contest was unlike any other in her career, it was one that could win her the backing of the French Judo Federation for the Olympics, but Masters specialist DORJSUREN was not going to be denied and will be one of the leading judoka in Rio. 

Olympic and world champion Matsumoto Kaori (JPN) was sensationally beaten in her opening contest by her training partner and close friend LIEN Chen-Ling (TPE) by ippon.

The first bronze medal was won by Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist KARAKAS Hedvig (HUN) who toppled BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD by way of shido penalties. BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD was penalised twice while KARAKAS did not a receive a shido during the four minute battle and with no scores registered it was the Hungarian who found her way onto the podium. The second bronze medal was won by Asian Championships silver medallist KIM Jan-Di (KOR) as LIEN went from humbling the Olympic and world champion to crumbling in the most important fight of her career as she committed four errors to receive hansoku-make. The ninth meeting between the two left-sided fighters produced a lengthy struggle for a grip and neither judoka really came close to troubling the scoreboard. LIEN was penalised for passivity, blocking, ducking under a grip and again for passivity while KIM was penalised on three occasions and went ahead in their head-to-head series 5:4. 
RECEVEAUX, Helene (FRA) vs DORJSUREN, Sumiya (MGL)                                                                     
Bronze Medal Fights
BEAUCHEMIN-PINARD, Catherine (CAN) vs KARAKAS, Hedvig (HUN)    
LIEN, Chen-Ling (TPE) vs KIM, Jan-Di (KOR)                  

Final Results 
1. DORJSUREN, Sumiya (MGL)                                                     
2. RECEVEAUX, Helene (FRA)       
3. KARAKAS, Hedvig (HUN)                                      
3. KIM, Jan-Di (KOR)                   
5. LIEN, Chen-Ling (TPE)
7. SMYTHE-DAVIS, Nekoda (GBR)                                 
7. MALLOY, Marti (USA)                                                                                               


-60kg: SAFAROV draws inspiration from IJF Hall of Famer   

European silver medallist Orkhan SAFAROV (AZE) stood out from the lightweight crowd of champions as he signed off from the qualification period with World Judo Masters gold. SAFAROV beat former Paris Grand Slam silver medallist Vincent LIMARE (FRA) in the -60kg final with an inspired day as one of the biggest winners in Guadalajara as he now moves into the top eight on the Olympic qualification list which offers the vital reward of a seeded position at the Olympics. Austria’s double Olympic champion Peter SEISENBACHER was in the chair for SAFAROV and the IJF Hall of Famer spurred his man on to glory as the Azeri judoka produced two yuko scores with the second coming from a speedy ouchi-gari. SAFAROV more than earned his hand shake and hug from Azerbaijan team manager SEISENBACHER who could well repeat the heroics he achieved four years ago as the mastermind of the Georgian team with his Azerbaijan aces. 

Former world champion TAKATO Naohisa (JPN) was upset by two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist Vincent LIMARE (FRA) in his opening contest as the Frenchman renewed his Olympic quest as he aimed to take a medal and a better result than Walide KHYAR (FRA) who had locked like a lock in for the Games after his stunning European Championships victory in April.  

The first bronze medal was claimed by number two seed KIM who saw off number one seed GANBAT Boldbaatar (MGL) on shidos. World number one GANBAT lost out to world number two KIM in a highly-entertaining contest despite the scoreless nature of the five minute duel. KIM was penalised for passivity before GANBAT was penalised for a false attack and then the former world champion received a second shido which provided decisive at the end of the contest. The second bronze medal went to the wily former world silver medallist DASHDAVAA Amartuvshin (MGL) instead of 20-year-old European champion KHYAR. DASHDAVAA won the first meeting between the pair by wazari-awasette-ippon as his skills were today matched by a positive attitude and he was Mongolia’s best performer from their four entrants in the lightest men’s category. 
LIMARE, Vincent (FRA) vs SAFAROV, Orkhan (AZE)                                                                                                                            
Bronze Medal Fights
KIM, Won Jin (KOR) vs GANBAT, Boldbaatar (MGL)                                
KHYAR, Walide (FRA) vs DASHDAVAA, Amartuvshin (MGL)        

Final Results 1. SAFAROV, Orkhan (AZE)                                         
2. LIMARE, Vincent (FRA)                                                   
3. KIM, Won Jin (KOR)                                   
3. DASHDAVAA, Amartuvshin (MGL)                         
5. GANBAT, Boldbaatar (MGL)                                     
5. KHYAR, Walide (FRA)                     
7. OZLU, Bekir (TUR)                             
7. UROZBOEV, Diyorbek (UZB)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

-66kg: World champion AN passes Masters test at his first attempt 

World champion AN Baul (KOR) is also ready to trade his red judogi backpatch for one of the gold variety as he past his latest test with a display of South Korean brilliance. AN, 22, has a habit of making a mark on every new stage in his career, having won the World Championships at the first attempt, and now the former junior world champion has won the Masters on his debut at the invite-only event. AN will be targeting a unique hat-trick of debut victories as he approaches his first Olympic Games as one of the favourites. The Asian star was due to face 2015 World Judo Masters bronze medallist DAVAADORJ Tumurkhuleg (MGL) in the final but the Mongolian hurt his arm in his previous contest against European Games winner Kamal KHAN-MAGOMEDOV (RUS) who received hansoku-make for a waki-gatame. 

The first bronze medal was won by world bronze medallist Golan POLLACK (ISR) as KHAN-MAGOMEDOV could not take his place in the final block due to receiving a direct disqualification in his previous contest. The contest may not have materialised but the value of the result could not be overstated as the improving POLLACK looks set for a place in the top eight in the Olympic qualification zone. The second bronze medal went to Qingdao Grand Prix winner Nijat SHIKHALIZADA (AZE) who surpassed beaten semi-finalist OLEINIC who was off the pace. SEISENBACHER was again in the chair coaching his fighter and achieved the desired outcome as all the impetus was with SHIKHALIZADA who was bright and positive throughout with a variety of attacks including a picturesque yoko-tomoe-nage effort. Neither judoka could break the deadlock but there was still a clear winner in the Azeri who could be highly-dangerous at the Olympics this summer.   

DAVAADORJ, Tumurkhuleg (MGL) vs AN, Baul (KOR)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Bronze Medal Fights
KHAN-MAGOMEDOV, Kamal (RUS) vs POLLACK, Golan (ISR)                                  
OLEINIC, Sergiu (POR) vs SHIKHALIZADA, Nijat (AZE)                 

Final Result
1. AN, Baul (KOR)                               
2. DAVAADORJ, Tumurkhuleg (MGL)  
3. POLLACK, Golan (ISR)                                   
3. SHIKHALIZADA, Nijat (AZE)                                                                          
5. OLEINIC, Sergiu (POR)                                                  
7. ARAUJO, Eduardo (MEX)                               
7. TAKAJO, Tomofumi (JPN)                                                                               

11:00 Preliminaries on two mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

Women: -63kg, -70kg
Men: -73kg, -81kg

11:00 Preliminaries on two mats
17:00 Final block on one mat

Women: -78kg, +78kg
Men: -90kg, -100kg, +100kg

Location: Lopez Mateo Sports Centre