Saturday, May 14, 2016

Almaty Grand Prix 2016 - Kazakhstan DAY TWO

(Via IJF)

The Almaty Grand Prix 2016 served up an unforgettable day of judo which saw an Olympic champion close in on Rio 2016 and a host of world-rated judoka settle their own destiny for this summer at the Sport Palace Baluan Sholak on Saturday.  

Day two was flowing with ippons as the field went went toe-to-toe and held nothing back as they aimed for a decisive finish to their Olympic bid. The race for qualification goes on to Mexico in two weeks’ time for the invite-only World Judo Masters (top 16 ranked judoka in each weight category) but the Almaty spectacle was the final IJF event open to all judoka in the race fo Rio.   

There were inspirational performances across the board as judoka chasing a place in the qualification zones (top 14 for women and top 22 for men) emerged from outside of the pack of front-runners to throw their names into contention.

For every judoka who earnt a place in the qualification zones, there were several occasions where one judoka outperformed a teammate to put themselves at the forefront of their Federation’s minds while some took a continental quota place from their own teammates.

Qualification was hotly-contested in the preliminaries with the points even from individual contests having immediate and significant ramifications.

African Championships bronze medallist Szandra SZOGEDI (GHA) won her opening contest against Altynai KHABI (KAZ) to displace London 2012 Olympian Emmanuel NARTEY (GHA) in the continental quota place. 

Olympic champion Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO) moved ahead of his teammate and the top -73kg seed in Almaty in Nugzari TATALASHVILI (GEO) by winning gold as his dream of winning the Olympics at two weights is very much alive.

The three-day competition has generated domestic interest far beyond the Olympic sport as Kazakhstan’s world-beating judoka are national icons and ambassadors for the Asian nation which hosted the World Championships in Astana last year.

Andrey ARSHAVIN with former world champion Maxim RAKOV (KAZ)

Grand Prix host city Almaty is also home to Kazakhstan’s most famous and successful football club FC Kairat who have Russian star Andrey ARSHAVIN and club captain Bauyrzhan ISLAMKHAN among their ranks. UEFA Super Cup winner ARSHAVIN and Kazakhstan international ISLAMKHAN welcomed two of Kazakhstan’s finest judoka to the club’s ultra-modern training base on Thursday.

Current world champion Yeldos SMETOV (KAZ) and former world champion Maxim RAKOV (KAZ) went along to present personalised judogi to ARSHAVIN and ISLAMKHAN as judo has become a leading sport in the country and is well-known to athletes in other fields.

Club captain Bauyrzhan ISLAMKHAN with fellow Taraz native and world champion Yeldos SMETOV (KAZ)

ISLAMKHAN hails from Taraz in central Kazakhstan which is the same region as SMETOV and the pair were deep in conversation about their backgrounds and respective journeys to the top of  their sports.

ISLAMKHAN said: “I appreciate the sport of judo and we hear a lot about it and the Kazakhstan athletes achieving success. I am pleased to see someone from the same area as me achieving such success and I wish Yeldos and whole Kazakhstan team well at the Almaty Grand Prix and the Rio 2016 Olympics.”

SMETOV said: “It is good to meet top-level athletes from other sports and to share experiences. I think both footballers looked at home in their judogi and hope this will develop their interest in the sport. Judo is very dear to the Kazakhstan people and it is our way of exerting ourselves with energy and making our people proud.”

The Almaty Grand Prix will come to its conclusion on Sunday with Olympic champion Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) among the heavyweight elite in action on day three. Judo fans can watch the final day the Almaty Grand Prix 2016 live and free at

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-63kg: PINOT beats top seed for French victory 

Samsun Grand Prix winner Margaux PINOT (FRA) was on top of a Grand Prix medal podium again as she beat Asian Championships bronze medallist and top seed TSEND-AYUSH Tserennadmid (MGL) in the -63kg final. The Mongolian is ranked 11th in the Olympic qualification zone while her opponent was given a run out with former world champion Clarisse AGBEGNENOU (FRA) resting at home. PINOT made sure that their head-to-head series would start with an entry in the win column for the Frenchwoman as she prevailed on shido penalties 1:2. TSEND-AYUSH received a shido for passivity before spinning off a drop seoi-nage onto her knees. The Mongolian, who is the second highest ranked fighter from her country in the category, as she trails world bronze medallist TSEDEVSUREN Munkhzaya, was penalised again while PINOT was only penalised once durng the four minute contest to capture gold in the first final of the day.  

In the first semi TSEND-AYUSH Tserennadmid (MGL) won against world number 21 Mia HERMANSSON (SWE) who started her day in a qualification position but only by way of the continental quota so came to Almaty to try to win a place outright. TSEND-AYUSH left HERMANSSON with work still to do to book a place at Rio as the Swede could still be invited to the World Judo Masters in two weeks. The former won by ippon with four seconds remaining in the contest to advance to the final and send HERMANSSON into one of the two bronze medal contests. In the second semi-final PINOT defeated former Paris Grand Slam silver medallist Juul FRANSSEN (NED) to guarantee herself a medal on the Grand Prix stage. FRANSSEN, who entered with 17th place on the Olympic qualification list, was unable to break down the defence of her French opponent and was penalised on three occasions while PINOT was only penalised once.

The first bronze medal was won by FRANSSEN who beat Pan American Championships bronze medallist Stefanie TREMBLAY (CAN). The Canadian was 28th on the Olympic qualification list when she started her competition while her opponent is second choice in the Dutch -63kg ranks behind two-time world bronze medallist Anicka VAN EMDEN (NED). The first medal contest of the final block was decided when FRANSSEN threw for a waza-ari and immediately moved into osaekomi as she held down TREMBLAY with a kami-shiho-gatame for 15 seconds. The second bronze medal was claimed by HERMANSSON who defeated Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Maricet ESPINOSA (CUB). The Cuban was below her best and her Swedish opponent took advantage as she scored a waza-ari and countered a ura-nage attempt to add a yuko. HERMANSSON ran the down the clock by avoiding to take a grip and was penalised but the result was never in doubt as the victor fought back the tears and the sense of her accomplishment was felt by the crowd who gave a warm round of applause.  

PINOT, Margaux (FRA) vs TSEND-AYUSH, Tserennadmid (MGL)                                                                                                                                                                                  
Bronze Medal Fights
FRANSSEN, Juul (NED) vs TREMBLAY, Stefanie (CAN)         
HERMANSSON, Mia (SWE) vs ESPINOSA, Maricet (CUB)                               

Final Results 
1. PINOT, Margaux (FRA)                            
2. TSEND-AYUSH, Tserennadmid (MGL)                         
3. FRANSSEN, Juul (NED)                                                     
3. HERMANSSON, Mia (SWE)         
5. TREMBLAY, Stefanie (CAN)                                              
5. ESPINOSA, Maricet (CUB)                                                             
7. KATIPOGLU, Busra (TUR)                              
7. BARRIOS, Anriquelis (VEN)           


-70kg: French teenager blocks Olympic hopefuls    

Former Asian Championships winner TSEND AYUSH Naranjargal (MGL) faced former cadet world champion Marie Eve GAHIE (FRA) - who could be one of the biggest stars in this category during the next Olympic cycle – in the -70kg final and the French fighter pulled off one of the biggest wins of her career. Samsun Grand Prix winner GAHIE, 19, is France’s third choice behind world champion Gevrise EMANE (FRA) and world bronze medallist Fanny ESTELLE POSTIVE, but was irresistible as she won a Grand Prix at a time when judoka are frantically chasing down points with Olympic places at stake. GAHIE led with a yuko until the Mongolian equalled the score from a ura-nage. TSEND AYUSH hit her head on the tatami as she blocked a technique and was unable to continue to hand the top place on the podium to France. 

In the first semi-final former world bronze medallist Katarzyna KLYS (POL) was denied by GAHIE who scored two yukos without reply while KLYS, who was targeting a medal to cement her place inside the top 14, had to turn her hopes to a bronze medal tilt. In the second semi-final TSEND AYUSH Naranjargal (MGL) defeated Asian Championships bronze medallist ZHOU Chao (CHN) who held a provisional qualification position at the start of play via the continental quota.

The first bronze medal was claimed by Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Maria PEREZ (PUR) who swept past ZHOU. PEREZ held a qualification position at the start of the day via the continental quota and will be even closer to Rio 2016 now as she opened the scoring with a waza-ari from a ko-uchi-gari and added a yuko before winning the contest with ashi-waza from her second waza-ari score. The second bronze medal contest was won by KLYS who held off former world bronze medallist Onix CORTES ALDAMA (CUB) to boost her Rio chances and guarantee an invite to the World Judo Masters. A yuko from KLYS was the only score of the contest as Poland’s medal haul was supplemented once again.  
TSEND AYUSH, Naranjargal (MGL) vs GAHIE, Marie Eve (FRA)                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Bronze Medal Fights
ZHOU, Chao (CHN) vs PEREZ, Maria (PUR)                            
KLYS, Katarzyna (POL) vs CORTES ALDAMA, Onix (CUB)   

Final Results
1. GAHIE, Marie Eve (FRA)                                                                                         
2. TSEND AYUSH, Naranjargal (MGL)                                  
3. PEREZ, Maria (PUR)                              
3. KLYS, Katarzyna (POL)   
5. ZHOU, Chao (CHN)
5. CORTES ALDAMA, Onix (CUB)                                                         
7. GERCSAK, Szabina (HUN)                                 
7. MOREIRA, Antonia (ANG)                                                                                                                                                                                                 


-73kg: Olympic champion SHAVDATUASHVILI settles domestic battle  

Georgia’s leading men in the -73kg category, Almaty Grand Prix top seed Nugzari TATALASHVILI (GEO) and reigning -66kg Olympic champion Lasha SHAVDATUASHVILI (GEO), were both in action on Saturday with the outcome destined to decide which fighter the powerhouse judo nation would select for Rio 2016. SHAVDATUASHVILI defeated first-time Grand Prix finalist Jaromir JEZEK (CZE) – having seen the Czech erase TATALASHVILI in the semi-final – with a fantastic transition into ne-waza and immediately locked on the juji-gatame to yield the tap out and move ahead of SHAVDATUASHVILI in the Olympic qualification places.  

In the first semi-final TATALASHVILI was overwhelmed by two-time Grand Prix bronze medallist Jaromir JEZEK (CZE). A right-sided seoi-nage for JEZEK in the first minute started the scoring and he built on that yuko by adding a waza-ari from a drop seoi-nage as the Georgian saw his Olympic aspirations evaporating and was powerless to stop it. JEZEK continued his barrage of attacks and earned the win by ippon from a ko-uchi-gari with two minutes left. In the second semi-final SHAVDATUASHVILI outfoxed Olympic bronze medallist SAINJARGAL Nyam-Ochir (MGL) which is a victory by itself. This was the first meeting between two stars and national treasurers in their respective countries and it went in favour of the Georgian who won on shido penalties 1:2.

The first bronze medal was won by Asian Championships silver medallist Didar KHAMZA (KAZ) who was rallied on to victory against SAINJARGAL by the vocal crowd. KHAMZA sent an already energised home set of supporters into raptures when he scored a waza-ari with just 10 seconds left and moved into osaekomi before returning to his feet after nine seconds as there was no time left for Mongolia’s Olympic bronze medallist to respond. The second bronze medal was won by TATALASHVILI who held his nerve after his semi-final disappointment to beat Zagreb Grand Prix bronze medallist Pierre DUPRAT (FRA). The Georgian was penalised for passivity and a false attack either side of taking the lead with a yuko as DUPRAT could not salvage a place on the podium for France. TATALASHVILI was given one more shido for going out of the area as he used up the remaining time to secure a crucial result.                      

SHAVDATUASHVILI, Lasha (GEO) vs JEZEK, Jaromir (CZE)                                                                                        
Bronze Medal Fights
SAINJARGAL, Nyam-Ochir (MGL) vs KHAMZA, Didar (KAZ)                              
TATALASHVILI, Nugzari (GEO) vs DUPRAT, Pierre (FRA)                 

Final Results
1. SHAVDATUASHVILI, Lasha (GEO)                                   
2. JEZEK, Jaromir (CZE)                                                                   
3. KHAMZA, Didar (KAZ)                                
3. TATALASHVILI, Nugzari (GEO)                               
5. SAINJARGAL, Nyam-Ochir (MGL)    
5. DUPRAT, Pierre (FRA)                      
7. SAI, Yinjirigala (CHN)                               
7. BOBOEV, Giyosjon (UZB)                                                                                                                                                              

-81kg: Cuban SILVA MORALES the cream of the crop

Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Ivan Felipe SILVA MORALES (CUB) defeated Games hopeful Matteo MARCONCINI (ITA) to level up their head-to-head series at 1-1 and put forward his candidacy for Olympic silverware this summer. MARCONCINI took the lead with a yuko from a tomoe-nage with two minutes left and went back to the same technique but it failed along with the subsequent juji-gatame attempt which has been a common transition in Almaty this weekend. SILVA MORALES showed his worth as he sent MARCONCINI flying towards the tatami with a powerful attack and held on for the remaining seconds.  

In the first semi-final SILVA MORALES defeated double Olympic bronze medallist Leandro GUILHEIRO (BRA) who had showed flashes of brilliance in previous rounds as he produced finishes such as uchi-mata and a hane-goshi. The 32-year-old GUILHEIRO lost out on shidos 2:3 as the Pan American judoka could only be separated on shido penalties. In the second semi-final MARCONCINI (ITA) scored three times against Vladimir ZOLOEV (KGZ) and every time the score was greater than the last. A yuko, a waza-ari and then a ippon sealed the fate of the Italian who moved on to the -81kg final.  

The first bronze medal was won by ZOLOEV who countered an ouchi-gari from Junior world champion Frank DE WIT (NED) to send the Dutchman onto his back for the maximum score. The second bronze medal was won by Asian Championships winner NYAMSUREN Dagvasuren (MGL) who outfought GUILHEIRO to provide the only score in the contest. GUILHEIRO had his moment in the previous rounds but struggled to impose himself and received three shidos by the end of the contest for passivity and twice for not taking a grip while NYAMSUREN was penalised once for not taking a grip having been in front from the first 10 seconds.                                  
MARCONCINI, Matteo (ITA) vs SILVA MORALES, Ivan Felipe (CUB)                 
Bronze Medal Fights
ZOLOEV, Vladimir (KGZ) vs DE WIT, Frank (NED)                       
GUILHEIRO, Leandro (BRA) vs NYAMSUREN, Dagvasuren (MGL)                             

Final Result
1. SILVA MORALES, Ivan Felipe (CUB)              
2. MARCONCINI, Matteo (ITA)                                                
3. ZOLOEV, Vladimir (KGZ)                                           
3. NYAMSUREN, Dagvasuren (MGL)                                                                
5. DE WIT, Frank (NED)                                             
5. GUILHEIRO, Leandro (BRA)
7. SABIROV, Shakhzodbek (UZB)              
7. DUMINICA, Valeriu (MDA)                                                          

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