Wednesday, August 17, 2016

+78kg Overview

The heaviest women's category of +78kg also had the smallest number of participants at 17. The top gold medal prospects were Yu Song (CHN) and Idalys Ortiz (CUB) but Emilie Andeol (FRA) and Kanae Yamabe (JPN) were strong contenders too.

Pool A: Yu (CHN)
Yu started off impressively, throwing Sonia Asselah (ALG) with a massive harai-goshi for ippon. She had a harder time against Kayra Sayit (TUR) though. Up til the last 15 seconds of the match, both players were even with two shidos each when Yu struck with her trademark soto-makikomi which scored yuko. She then clamped on a pin that got her a waza-ari after which the Turkish player tapped out. So, within the last 15 seconds of the match, Yu scored yuko, waza-ari and ippon.

Pool B: Andeol (FRA)
Andeol had a really difficult time against Vanessa Zambotti (MEX) and only managed to win after the Mexican player flopped and dropped during Golden Score and got a shido for it. The clearly frustrated Andeol was seen crying as she got off the mat, even though she had won the match. And it wasn't tears of joy. Her second match of the day, against Nihel Cheikh Rahou (TUN) was hardly any better. It too went into Golden Score and as with the first match, was won by the French player after her opponent flopped and dropped, earning herself a shido. It had not been a good morning session for Andeol but she was through to the semi-finals.

Pool C: Ortiz (CUB)
Ortiz provided some excitement for the fans with a fantastic ura-nage throw for ippon against her first opponent, Ksenia Chibisova (RUS). Her second match, against Kim Minjeong (KOR) was just as exciting. She first threw her opponent with drop seoi-nage for yuko. Then she followed that up with a very gutsy yoko-guruma for waza-ari, and immediately clamped on a pin for waz-ari-awasatte-ippon. Thus far, she looked to be the most exciting prospect for gold thus far.

Pool D: Yamabe (JPN)
Yamabe had a difficult time against Santa Pakenyte (LTU) and was down by a shido when in the last minute she pulled out an osoto-gari that felled her much larger opponent for ippon. That brought her up against Tessie Savelkouls (NED), whom she threw with soto-makikomi for yuko and then harai-goshi for ippon.

Although Turkey's Sayit was smaller than Tunisia's Cheikh Rahou, it was the Turkish player who scored. She came in with a forward attack which prompted the Tunisian to initiate an ura-nage counter. Sayit then countered that ura-nage by taking Cheikh Rahou straight down, for a waza-ari and then pinned her for an ippon score.

In the other repercharge, Kim was down on penalties before she started attacking Savelkouls aggressively, throwing her twice with drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for yuko each time. Then she pinned the Dutch player with sankaku for ippon.

After a disappointing morning session, Andeol performed superbly in her semi-final throwing Yu for ippon. She had initiated a forward movement causing Yu to pull backwards. Andeol then did an ouchi-like movement and landed on top of her opponent for an ippon score.

In the second semi-final match, Ortiz showed off her throwing skills by throwing her Japanese opponent with a big hip throw which score yuko. A little bit more rotation could have easily given her an ippon. But this was enough to win her the match.

Yamabe scored early with a very low osoto-gari for waza-ari and then held on til the end of the match, accruing three shidos along the way. She had won Japan yet another bronze.

In the other bronze medal match, Yu used her favorite soto-makikomi to throw Kim for ippon.

There was no score in the Andeol vs Ortiz gold medal match during regular time, so it went into Golden Score. After nearly three minutes of no big action, Ortiz went for broke and tried to rotate Andeol with a yoko-guruma. The attack failed and Andeol clamped on a pin for ippon and a gold for France.

+100kg Overview

There were 31 players in this category but one man stood heads and shoulders above the rest (both figuratively and literally): Teddy Riner (FRA). Contenders who could give him a hard time include Roy Meyer (NED), Or Sasson (ISR) and Hisayoshi Harasawa (JPN). The Georgians had one player who qualified, who had given Riner a tough time in the IJF circuit: Levani Matishvili but another player who qualified, Adam Okruashvili, had been sent instead because he was higher ranking.

Pool A
Riner hardly broke a sweat fighting his first opponent, Mohammed Amine Tayeb (ALG), whom he took down for waza-ari and pinned for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon in less than a minute. His next opponent, home favorite Rafael Silva (BRA), fought like his main aim was to avoid getting thrown for ippon. At the end of five minutes, he was down by three shidos and a waza-ari. He must have been relieved it was not an ippon.

Pool B
Sasson (ISR), one of the very few heavyweights who can actually throw with morote-seoi-nage, used that technique twice on Islam El-Shehaby (EGY), scoring waza-ari and then ippon. After the match, Sasson walked over to El-Shehaby to shake his hand but the Egyptian backed off instead, to a chorus of boos for his unsportsmanlike conduct. El-Shehaby was later sent packing from Rio by the IOC's Disciplinary Committee for his bad behaviour. Next, Sasson threw Maciej Sarnacki (POL) with a drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for waza-ari. This brought him up against Roy Meyer (NED), who had done well beating Kim Sungmin (KOR) by throwing him with a dynamic sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi for yuko and later pinning him for ippon. He was no match against Sasson though, who threw him with a drop seoi-nage for waza-ari.

Pool C
Harasawa, the man most people think would give Riner the toughest fight, had a tough opening match, and had to rely on penalties for his win against Adam Okruashvili (GEO). He did better in his second match, against Ushangi Kokauri (AZE), whom he threw with ouchi-gari for ippon. Against Alex Garcia Mendoza (CUB), however, he again could not score and won by virtue of hansoku-make from the four shidos that Mendoza accumulated. Not a very impressive performance but still he was through to the semi-finals.

Pool D
The rising star in this pool is Iakiv Khammo (UKR) but as it turned, it was the veteran Abdullo Tangriev (UZB) -- who interestingly, had beaten Riner in the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- who made it to the top of the pool. Tangriev easily defeated his first opponent, Derek Sua (SAM), with uchimata for ippon. Then, he impressively threw Daniel Natea (ROU) with yoko-otoshi for waza-ari, followed by drop seoi-nage for ippon. That brought him up against Iurii Krakovetskii (KGZ), a big thrower who had earlier defeated Khammo, throwing him with a whirling sasae-tsuri-komi-goshi for waza-ari, pinning him for yuko and finally countering him with ura-nage for ippon. In his match with Tangriev, Krakovetskii scored first with uchimata for yuko. Tangriev then retaliated with a drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for ippon.

Silva's match against Meyer was not a particularly exciting one but the crowd was fully invested in the match as they wanted Brazil to get at least one more bronze before the day is through. And Silva survived the battle, winning through penalties. The crowd was ecstatic. 

The second repercharge match promised more excitement as it involved two throwers, Cuba's Garcia Mendoza and
Kyrgyzstan's Krakovetskii. The match could have gone either way but in the end it was Mendoza who scored the big ippon with an ouchi-gari that landed his big opponent flat on his back. 

The Riner-Sasson match was a truly exciting one, with the Israeli player coming close to scoring when he managed to drop underneath Riner and launch him into the air. Riner landed on his front though, so no score. With a shido each on the board, and the match looking like it was heading towards Golden Score, Riner struck with sumi-gaeshi that scored waza-ari in literally the last second of the match.

Harasawa's bout against Tangriev was not close to being evenly matched. Harasawa scored yuko with an uchimata into ouchi-gari combination and after that Tangriev went on the defensive to the point that he got four shidos and was given a hansoku-make.

Silva gave the crowd what it wanted when he defeated a tired Tangriev, who seemed to have expended all his energy in previous matches. The Brazilian was ahead on penalties when he scored a yuko through soto-makikomi in the last minute of the match, to ensure a safe victory. 

Both Sasson and Garcia Mendoza are throwers but in their bronze medal match, it was a battle of tactics and in the end, the Israeli won through penalties.


Riner's approach to fighting his biggest rivals has always to fight the prudent fight and go for the shido penalties rather than the big ippon. And so it was in his gold medal match against Harasawa. He gripped the Harasaw hard and forced him to incur two shidos before the Japanese began to grip back just as hard. At the end of five minutes the shido count was 2:1 in favor of Riner. He had won his second Olympic gold medal. It was through shido, just as it was at the 2012 London Olympics, but a win is a win.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

-78kg Overview

There were only 18 contestants in the Women's -78kg division but it had three very exciting fighters in the form of Kayla Harrison (USA), Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA) and home favorite Mayra Aguiar (BRA).

Pool A
Harrison, who is equally adept at standing and groundwork, won her first match, against Zhang Zehui (CHN) with a pin for ippon. She also used groundwork to beat Abigel Joo (HUN), also pinning her for ippon.

Pool B
Marhinde Verkerk (NED) was the top seed her but she lost to Yalennis Castillo (CUB) by penalty during a Golden Score that lasted for nearly seven minutes. That pitted Castillo against Anamari Velensek (SLO) who attacked her with a powerful armlock that had the Cuban's arm straightened. Castillo immediately protested that she had not tapped but slow motion replay showed that at one point, she did appear to have tapped on the mat a few times when her arm was outstretched.

Pool C
Tcheumeo didn't have an easy draw and had to face former world champion Sol Kyong (PRK) in the first round but Tcheumeo handily threw her with harai-goshi for ippon. That brought her up against Natalie Powell (GBR), also a tough opponent. She wasn't able to throw the Briton and in the end had to rely on penalties for the win.

Pool D
Home favorite Aguiar did really well in her first round match, against Miranda Giambelli (AUS), countering the Australian's footsweep for waza-ari and then pinning her for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. Her match against Louise Malzahn (GER) was a lot harder and in the end, got through on a penalty win.

Castillo did well to counter Joo's uchimata with a gutsy and well-time yoko-guruma that scored yuko, which was enough to win her the match and a chance to fight for bronze.

Malzahn's kosoto-gari counter against Powell's hip technique earned her an ippon and passage to the bronze medal round.

Velensek is a good ground fighter but she was no match for Harrison who armlocked her, rather easily, for ippon.

Tcheumeo's fight against Aguiar was not as decisive. Going into the last minute, both players had a shido on the board. Then, with about 30 seconds to go, Aguiar made a big mistake, grasping her own trousers to try to free her arm from Tcheumeo's grip. This is no longer allowed under IJF rules, so she got another shido, which cost her the match. It was a silly mistake. 

Aguiar might have aimed for the gold medal but now that that was no longer a prospect, she went all out to at least salvage a bronze for the home crowd. She attacked early with a neat drop tai-otoshi that rotated Castillo on her side for yuko. This was enough to win her the match as the Cuban could not get back the score. Although she was surely disappointed at not being able to fight for gold, she was clearly delighted at getting the bronze.

Velensek went after Malzahn on the ground and nearly caught her with an armlock. Malzahn survived that attack but when Velensek later applied a strangle, this time the German could not escape. She tried to hold on for a matte but as her face turned purple, the referee stopped the match. Ippon and a bronze medal for Velensek.

From the way Harrison went after Tcheumeo in the opening seconds of their match, it was obvious the American was going to win. Throughout their match it was Harrison who was attacking and soon enough Tcheumeo started getting penalties. With only 20 seconds left in the match and with her opponent already down with two shidos, Harrison didn't stop attacking. A failed seoi-nage attack allowed her to climb on top of Tcheumeo's back and apply an armlock that had the French player tapping very quickly. Harrison could have won on penalties alone but instead she went for the perfect score and secured an ippon with just seconds left on the clock. What a way to win the gold!

-100kg Overview

As we get into the second heaviest Men's weight class of -100kg, there were still many participants, with a total of 34 competing. There were many past world and Olympic champions in this division, including Tagir Khaibulaev (RUS), Tuvshinbayar Naidan (MGL), Lukas Krpalek (CZE), Maksim Rakov (KAZ) and Ryonosuke Haga (JPN). Other top competitors were Elmar Gasimov (AZE), Cyrille Maret (FRA), Henk Grol (NED) and Beka Gviniashvili (GEO). So, it was a very crowded field.

Pool A: Gasimov (AZE)
Gasimov did well to beat Khaibulaev (RUS) in his first fight. He threw the 2012 Olympic champion with a side takedown for waza-ari and then pinned him long enough for a yuko. Khaibulaev was not able to get back the scores and was thus eliminated in the first round. Next up, Gasimov faced Lyes Bouyacoub (ALG). Gasimov scored first with a nice kosoto-gari for waza-ari. Then Bouyacoub struck back with a soto-makikomi for waza-ari. But as the Algerian had two shidos on the board, at the end of match time, he lost. That brought him up against Ramadan Darwish (EGY), whom he beat surprisingly easily within the first minute with a tani-otoshi that scored ippon.

Pool B: Bloshenko (UKR)
The top prospects here would be Martin Pacek (SWE), Cho Guham (KOR) and Karl-Richard Frey (GER). Nobody expected Artem Bloshenko (UKR) to emerge victor in this pool but it was he who got through. His first match was against Soyib Kurbanov (UZB) whom he dispatched with a big hugging kosoto-gake for ippon. Next, he threw Hussain Shah Shah (PAK) with sumi-gaeshi for ippon. After that, he faced Cho whom he threw with another sumi-gaeshi for ippon. This brought him up against Frey whom he threw twice. The first one was through a kosoto-gari done after Frey tried to pick him up in response to an ouchi-gari attack. The second was through a nicely timed sasae-tsuri-komi-goshi which scored yuko. Not initially considered a top contender, Bloshenko had done remarkably well throughout the preliminary rounds and was now headed to the semi-finals.

Pool C: Maret (FRA)
The top prospects here were Maret, Grol and Gviniashvili. In the end, it was the Frenchman who got through. He had an easy first fight against Ayouba Traore (MLI), whom he threw with uchimata within the first 30 seconds. His next match though would be a tough one, against Grol, whom he narrowly beat with a yuko score from a side takedown. After that it was out of the frying pan and into the fire as he had to face Gviniashvili in the quarter-final. Theirs was a bruising battle but Maret got his chance when Gviniashvili came in for a hip throw. Maret rode the attack and tipped him over for a waza-ari score.

Pool D: Krpalek (CZE)
In this pool, we had three world champions, Krpalek, Rakov and Haga. Krpalek nearly lost his first match, against Jorge Fonseca (POR) who threw him with a nice osoto-gari for yuko. Krpalek struggled to get the score back to no avail until the last 30 seconds when he was able to pull off a sumi-gaeshi that scored waza-ari. That brought him up against the very tough Rakov. At the end of the match, there was no score on the board but Krpalek was ahead on penalties, so he got through to the quarter-final where he would face the reigning world champion Haga. Krpalek fought the right fight and wore out the Japanese champion with his heavy gripping. At the end of the match, Haga was down on penalties, which meant Krpalek would be the one going to the semi-finals.

The Darwish-Frey match featured very heavy grip fighting with neither men able to come in for a proper attack. Slightly more than halfway through the match, Darwish went for broke and lunged at Frey trying to catch him with a hugging kosoto-gake. Frey just whirled him over with his hands to land him flat on his back for a massive ippon.

Haga's match against Gviniashvili also featured heavy gripping but punctuated with more attempts to to throw. After incurring a shido, Gviniashvili tried every which way he could to get a score on Haga but was unable to get even a yuko although on some occasions he came pretty close to scoring. In the end, Haga went through on penalty win.

Bloshenko had defied all expectations to get this far but he met his match when he went up against  Gasimov who threw him with kosoto-gake for ippon.

In the Krpalek-Maret match, it was the Czech player all the way as he attacked his French opponent non-stop until he finally caught him on the ground and pinned Maret for ippon.

Perhaps incensed at his semi-final performance Maret unleashed all his fury on Frey with a picture-perfect osoto-gari that slammed Frey onto the mat for an indisputable ippon.

Haga, who is well known of his uchimata is actually quite good on the ground too, especially with sankaku and it was exactly that technique that he used to pin and strangle Bloshenko, who had to tap out. It was yet another bronze for Japan.

Krpalek displayed the same kind of determination in the final as he did in the semi-final, coming out charging and going after Gasimov with real attempts to throw. Gasimov gave as good as he got but there was no stopping Krpalek who managed to hook Gasimov with ouchi-gari. Gasimov tried to counter the attack but instead ended up landing flat on his back with Krpalek on top. It was a great way to win the gold.

-70kg Overview

There were 24 judokas competing in the -70kg division. Top contenders include Kim Polling (NED), Laura Vargas Koch (GER), Yuri Alvear (COL) and Gevrise Emane (FRA).

Pool A: Tachimoto (JPN)
Polling was the top seed but Haruka Tachimoto (JPN) had beaten her at the 2015 Paris Grand Slam so this would not be an easy fight. Polling scored first with a drop seoi-nage for yuko. Tachimoto responded with osoto-gari for yuko. The fight then went into Golden Score where Polling was thrown again with an osoto-gari for yuko. And with that, she was out of the competition.

Tachimoto, who had prior to her match with Polling, beaten Chao Zhou (CHN) with a kosoto-gari and a pin for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon, had a much harder fight against Kelita Zupancic (CAN). The match went into Golden Score where Tachimoto scored with osoto-gari for waza-ari.

Pool B: Vargas Koch (GER)
Vargas Koch had a surprisingly tough time against Antonia Moreira (ANG) and seemed relieved when the Angolan player accidentally grabbed her leg resulting in a hansoku-make. Her next opponent, Bernadette Graf (AUT), was on paper a much tougher opponent but here, Vargas Koch was able to throw her with soto-makikomi for ippon.

Pool C: Alvear (COL)
In another incident where a top favorite had difficulty with a relative unknown, Alvear had great difficulty dealing with Maria Perez (PUR) and only managed to scrape through with a penalty win in Golden Score. As was the case with Vargas Koch, after having a tough time against a relative unknown, Alvear was then able to throw a much tougher opponent for ippon. In this case it was Maria Bernabeu (ESP) whom she threw with an osoto-kosoto combination.

Pool D: Conway (GBR)
Emane was the top seed in this pool but when she came up against against Sally Conway (GBR). Emane scored with a drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for yuko. Conway then tried a sumi-gaeshi that failed. Emane pounced on top of her and briefly pinned Conway for what looked like a sure win on the ground. Remarkably, the British player was able to turn things around by rolling Emane onto her back and pin her for ippon. It was a great reversal of fortune. Conway then had to fight Linda Bolder (ISR) whom she threw with a sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi for ippon.

The repercharge match between Canada's Zupancic and Austria's Graf was an epic battle full of drama. An ura-nage by Graf gave the Austrian the lead by waza-ari. Zupancic then pins Graf for 14 seconds when Graf escaped. Had she held on for one second longer, the scores would have been even at a waza-ari each and the match would have probably gone into Golden Score. But Graf escapes and wins the match.

Bolder's match against Bernabeu was less interesting and in the end the Spanish player won by penalties.

Tachimoto showed her throwing capabilities by dispatching Vargas Koch with an osoto-gari for waza-ari.

Alvear had a much harder time against her opponent, Conway and the match went into Golden Score. There, Conway attempted a kouchi-gake which got countered for waza-ari.Alvear now had the chance to add an Olympic gold to her three world championship gold medals.

In the first bronze medal match, a confident Conway executes a perfectly-timed counter against Graf's kouchi which scored yuko and was enough to win her the match as Graf was not able to respond in the time left.

Vargas Koch does an ouchi-gake into kouchi-gake combination against Bernabeu in Golden Score. She got a waza-ari for that and with it, Germany's first bronze medal of the competition.

Tachimoto made the mistake of incurring a shido early in the match but Alvear, who is a big thrower, was not content to just ride the time out. Midway through the contest, Alvear came in with a big hip throw which Tachimoto was able to counter, for yuko. Tachimoto then immediately clamped on a pin for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. It was a good victory for an unexpected winner.

-90kg Overview

The men's -90kg division also saw large participation with 35 nations represented. The top players were Mashu Baker (JPN), Krisztian Toth (HUN), Ilias Iliadis (GRE), Gwak Donghan (KOR), Kirill Denisov (RUS), Varlam Liparteliani (GEO), Noel Van T'End (NED) and Asley Gonzalez (CUB). It's a very crowded filed.

Pool A: Baker (JPN)
Unlike his compatriots Shohei Ono or Ryonosuke Haga, Baker is not one with a big technique and his fighting style is neither showy nor flashy. But he did manage to throw his first opponent, Marc Odenthal for ippon, using a slick ouchi-gari into seoi-otoshi combination.

In his next fight, Baker countered Aleksandar Kukolj's (SRB) tentative uchimata attempt with kosoto-gari for waza-ari and immediately pinned him for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. Against Alexandre Iddir (FRA), he used a sticky-foot kosoto-gari for waza-ari followed by an immediate pin for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. 

Pool B: Cheng (CHN)
Toth (HUN) didn't have to throw Kiplangat Sang (KEN) to win by ippon because the Kenyan player was too afraid of him to fight and collected four shidos for hansoku-make. 

On paper, the first match for Iliadis (GRE) should have been just a formality. Iliadis had recently pinned Cheng Xunzhao (CHN) for ippon at the 2015 Jeju Grand Prix. But this time, Cheng, a seoi-nage exponent, caught lliadis completely by surprise by switching to osoto-gari from an ippon-seoi-nage grip. This move completely floored the former Olympic champion.

Toth must have been relieved to see that Iliadis had been eliminated from the competition. The two of them have fought three times in the past, and all three times, the Hungarian had lost. Cheng, in theory, would be an easier opponent. The two had fought earlier in the year in the 2016 Dusseldorf Grand Prix where Toth had thrown him for ippon. But this was the Olympics and Cheng had obviously honed his ippon-seoi-nage into osoto-gari technique to an art. In an attack that was almost identical to the one he had done on Iliadis earlier, Cheng smashed Toth to the mat for ippon.

This brought the Chinese giant killer up against Marcus Nyman (SWE). These two had not fought each other before but the Swedish player would surely have been briefed about what had happened earlier to Iliadis and Toth. That didn't stop Cheng from using the exact same technique on Nyman, taking him flat on his back as well. The crowd couldn't believe it. Neither could Nyman or his coach. Cheng probably couldn't believe it himself. He was through to the semi-final despite being in the toughest pool of the day's competition.

Pool C: Gwak (KOR)
Gwak easily threw his first opponent, Thomas Briceno (CHI), with drop morote-seoi-nage for ippon. He has a surprisingly tougher time against Popole Misenga from the Refugee Olympic Team, whom he was unable to throw. In the end, Gwak had to rely on groundwork to win, strangling Misenga who had attempted a drop seoi-nage. That brought him up against Mammadali Mehdiyev, who had done well to have beaten Kirill Denisov (RUS) with an osoto-kosoto combination for ippon and Tiago Camilo (BRA) with an ura-nage for waza-ari (which could easily have been an ippon) to get to that point. Against Gwak though he was outmatched and lost by hansoku-make after accruing four shidos. It was not the kind of quarter-final match the crowd had hoped it would be.

Pool D: Liparteliani (GEO)
Liparteliani (GEO) had a tough first fight against Komronshokh Ustopiriyon (TJK) and was unable to throw him. However, in the final minute of their match, Liparteliani was able to extract his entangled legs in a groundwork exchange and pin his opponent for ippon. His next match, against Ovini Uera (NRU) was a lot easier, although it was Liparteliani who got the first shido for a gripping infringement. When Uera tried to counter an uchimata, Liparteliani took him to the ground and pinned him for ippon. All this happened in the first minute of the match. That brought him up against Otgonbaatar Lkhagvasuren (MGL) who gave him a really hard time. The Mongolian was a tough cookie, having beaten both Holland's Van T'End and Cuba's Gonzalez by ippon each. Liparteliani was not able to throw the Mongolian and in the end had to rely on penalties for the win.

The first repercharge match saw Iddir go up against Nyman. When the fight went to the ground, Nyman, a newaza specialist, wasted no time pinning Iddir for ippon.

The battle between Mehdiyev and Lkhagvasuren was bound to be a tough one and it was. By the end of the match, there was only a yuko score on the board, for the Mongolian who had thrown his opponent with a side takedown. 

Baker must have been thoroughly briefed on Cheng's killer osoto-gari because he was able to block Cheng's every attempt at the technique. With neither player able to sneak in a throw, it looked like Baker was set to lose when he received a penalty in the last minute of the match. This fired Baker up and he proceeded to throw Cheng with ouchi-gari for yuko and then pin him for ippon.

Liparteliani's semi-final bout against Gwak promised to be just as exciting a both men were great throwers. But on this day, Gwak had no chance. Liparteliani opened up the accounts by rolling Gwak with a makikomi technique for waza-ari. A follow uchimata gave Liparteliani waza-ari-awasatte-ippon and a place in the final.

Like many South Koreans, Gwak can do reverse seoi-nage and he used it to great effect against Nyman, throwing him for ippon and making it look so easy. 

Lkhagvasuren was wary of Cheng's osoto-gari technique and gave him no opening to try the attack. An opportunity for Cheng to score came however when the Mongolian attempted a drop seoi-nage. Cheng countered him for yuko and won himself a bronze.

When a Japanese player goes up against a European player, it's usually the former who is the thrower and the latter the tactician. However, in the Baker - Liparteliani final, it was the other way around. Baker, who is not known for big attacks, fought tactically against Liparteliani who tried desperately to find an opening for one of his big hip throws. Midway through the match, Baker sneaked in an ouchi-gari that scored yuko. After that, he ran out the clock and won Japan its third gold medal.

-63kg Overview

There were 26 players in the women's -63kg category which saw top players like Tina Trstenjak (SLO), Yarden Gerbi (ISR) and Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA) competing.

Pool A
Pool A belonged to Trstenjak, not always the most stylish player but one who is very tactical and effective. She won her first bout, against Edwige Gwend (ITA) with two shidos. That brought her up against Yang Junxia (CHN), whom she pinned for ippon. This was no mean feat as the Chinese player is a good newaza fighter.

Pool B
Pool B was supposed to belong to Gerbi (ISR) but she had trouble from her very first bout when Maricet Espinosa (CUB) used a hip technique to score yuko. The Cuban made the mistake of trying to defend for the rest of the match. That gave Gerbi the chance to do her techniques and she eventually threw Espinosa with osoto-gari for waza-ari and pin her for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

Things went south for Gerbi when she came up against home favorite, Mariana Silva (BRA), who gave it everything that she got to drag Gerbi into Golden Score. There a flurry of attacks culminated in a drop technique that scored yuko.

Pool C
Agbegnenou (FRA) fought well in her first match, throwing Busra Katipoglu (TUR) for yuko and then proceeding to pin her for ippon. Agbegnenou looked set to win her bout against Anicka Van Emden (NED) through a yuko score from soto-makikomi when in the last seconds of the match, she scored ippon through a massive ura-nage counter against Van Emden's last-ditch hip throw attempt. It was a good way to enter the semi-finals.

Pool D
Miku Tashiro (JPN) handily beat her first opponent, Katherina Haecker (AUS) with three kosoto-garis, scoring waza-ari, yuko and ippon respectively. Her next opponent was Kathrin Unterwurzacher (AUT) who gave her a harder fight. Tashiro also relied on kosoto-gari for a yuko win.

Gerbi, well-known for her throwing power, beat China's Yang with soto-makikomi for waza-ari.

Van Emden meanwhile, scraped through with a yuko win through her special seoi-nage/ouchi-gari hybrid that landed Unterwurzacher on her side.

Trstenjak dashed the hopes of the home crowd for a Brazilian finalist when she threw Silva with a drop seoi-nage for yuko and then pinned her for ippon.

The Tashiro-Agbegnenou semi-final bout was a hard battle that was decided by only a shido, incurred by the Japanese player when she stepped outside.

With Gerbi and Tashiro both capable of big throws, their bronze medal match promised to be an exciting one and they didn't disappoint. Tashiro attacked first with uchimata that had Gerbi up in the air but the Israeli player managed to ride it. Gerbi returned fire with a hip throw that scored yuko. Tashiro then tried uchimata again but this time, Gerbi managed to counter it for waza-ari. And all this action happened within the first minute! Gerbi then switched gears and fought a tactical and defensive game for the remaining three minutes. She incurred three shidos but managed to ride the time out and claim her bronze.

The home crowd was hoping for another Brazilian bronze from Silva who had done better than most people had expected her to. But Van Emden dashed their hopes when she threw Silva with her special drop-seoi-nage/ouchi-gari hybrid that scored yuko.

Agbegnenou is the bigger thrower of the two but Trstenjak was ready for her. When the French player attempted a kosoto-gake, Trstenjak countered for what looked like a waza-ari but a yuko was given. The Slovenian player then proceeded to do groundwork. She managed to extract her leg and pin Agbegnenou briefly before the French player escaped. But Trstenjak continued with the newaza and eventually secured a second pin, this time for ippon.

-81kg Overview

The Men's -81kg division saw 33 participants vying for gold. This division featured many top competitors including Avtandili Tchrikishvili (GEO), Travis Stevens (USA), Takemori Nagase (JPN), Loic Pietri (FRA) and Khasan Khalmurzaev (RUS).

Pool A
Tchrikishvili defeated his first opponent, Ivan Silva Morales (CUB) with an uchimata overthrow for yuko. His next match, against Juan Diego Turcios (ESA), should have been an easier one but the El Salvadorian player proved to be quite a tough opponent, taking the fight to Tchrikishvili and nearly succeeding with a flying juji-gatame. Although Tchrikishvili was the more dominant gripper, he didn't come close to throwing Turcios and in the end, had to rely on penalties for the win. He won more decisively against Matteo Marconcini (ITA), throwing in him in the opening seconds with a left hip technique for yuko. He followed that up with a right hip technique that scored waza-ari.

Pool B
Stevens's first bout, against Robin Pacek (SWE) was a hard fought one with the American edging ahead with yuko from a tomoe-nage only in the last minute. He did better against Shakhzodbek Sabirov (UZB), whom he threw with a big koshi-guruma for yuko and later pinned for ippon. Stevens also used groundwork to defeat his next opponent, Ivaylo Ivanov (BUL), pinning him for ippon and earning himself a spot in the semi-finals.

Pool C
Nagase had a hard first fight, against Laszlo Csoknyai (HUN) and in the end, won by a yuko from a drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi, not a technique he is known for. His next match, against Paul Kibikai (GAB) was much easier and he won that by throwing his opponent for waz-ari and then pinning him for ippon. That brought him up against Sergiu Toma (UAE), a strong fighter formerly from Moldavia.

Toma had no easy fights leading up to his battle with Nagase. His first bout was against Sven Maresch (GER) whom he managed to throw with a side takedown for yuko but he ultimately won by ippon when the German accumulated four shidos and received hansoku-make. Next up, he fought home favorite, Victor Penalber (BRA) whom he threw first with sode-tsuri-komi-goshi attack which scored waza-ari. The Brazilian responded with an osoto-kosoto attack which scored yuko, although it could easily have been waza-ari. Toma returned fire with a kosoto technique that scored yuko and sode-tsuri-komi-goshi that gave him waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

As expected, his quarter-final bout against Nagase was a hard fought one but he was the one with the score, emanating from an opportunistic one-handed sode-tsuri-komi-goshi that took the Japanese player onto his side for yuko. It was enough to give Toma the win as he rode the time out with only one shido on the board. He was through to the semi-finals.

Pool D
Khalmurzaev's first bout, against Saeid Mollaei (IRI) was a closely fought one and in the end, the Russian edged ahead through penalties (3 to 2 in favor of the Russian). He scored early in his next bout, against Mohamed Abdelaal (EGY), with a osoto-kosoto attack that gave him a waza-ari lead, after which he rode the time out. His quarter-final match against Antoine Valois-Fortier (CAN) was scoreless during regular time but once into Golden Score he executed a deft kouchi-gari that gave him a waza-ari and a ticket to the semi-finals.

Marconcini's match against Ivanov went long into Golden Score. After three minutes of extra time, with each trading relatively safe attacks, Ivanov went for broke and launched into a hugging kosoto-gake that Marconcini was able to counter for ippon. The Italian was through to fight for bronze.

Nagase threw Valois-Forteir with a cross-grip osoto-gari/harai-goshi hybrid throw that landed the Canadian flat on his back for ippon. He could yet salvage a bronze for Japan.

The Stevens vs Tchrikishvili match promised to provide lots of exciting moments and the crowd watched with eager anticipation of a big ippon. Initially it looked like it might become a tactical match as Tchrikishvili received one shido, then Stevens got one and another one. With just a minute left in the match, after Tchrikishvili did a desperate flop and drop attack Stevens pounced on him and slipped in a strangle that had the Georgian tapping. Stevens was through to the final.

Khalmurzaev's match against Toma was a shido fight with both having two shidos each at the end of regular time. But once into Golden Score Khalmurzaev threw Toma with sumi-gaeshi that scored ippon. It would be USA vs Russia in the final.

Marconcini has fought remarkably well throughout the day but in his bronze medal match, he wasn't able to stop a determined Toma who threw him with sumi-gaeshi for ippon.

Tchrikishvili came out with guns blazing and went hard after Nagase, who managed to weather the attacks long enough to execute a very low uchimata to score yuko. Tchrikishvili was not able to get the score back and had to go home empty-handed. Japan, meanwhile, got itself another bronze for its growing collection.

In the early stages of the final match, Stevens nearly caught Khalmurzaev on newaza but the Russian managed to survive the newaza onslaught. Time and again, the American threatened Khalmurazaev with newaza. When Stevens changed tact and attempted a hugging kosoto-gake, the Russian countered it with a neat uchimata for ippon. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

-57kg Overview

A total of 23 judokas took part in the women's -57kg division. Among the top competitors were Sumiya Dorjsuren (MGL), Telma Monteiro (POR), Kaori Matsumoto (JPN), Corina Caprioriu, and -- although she wasn't seeded -- Rafaela Silva (BRA).

Pool A: Dorjsuren (MGL)
Dorjsuren looked sluggish in her first bout and had to rely on a shido to get past Sanne Verhagen (NED). She only very narrowly beat Monteiro, during Golden Score, by a shido. Dorjsuren wasn't really attacking properly and was lucky to not have gotten a shido for false attacks. 

Pool B: Matsumoto (JPN)
Matsumoto beat her first opponent, Zouleiha Abzetta Dabonne (CIV) rather easily with newaza. First, she uses a "Huizinga Roll" to pin for yuko. Although Dabonne managed to escape that initial pin, Matsumoto continued with the newaza and secured a second pin, this time for ippon. Her next match, against Automne Pavia (FRA) was a lot tougher and a few times it looked like the very tactical Pavia could have stolen the match but time ran out with no score for either player. The very tense Golden Score period ended when Matsumoto managed to sneak in a sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for waza-ari.

Pool C: Silva (BRA)
Silva, clearly a woman on a mission, threw Miryam Roper (GER) with an uchimata for waza-ari in just 14 seconds. It could easily have been an ippon but it didn't matter because a few seconds later, she countered Roper for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. Silva continued to demonstrate her throwing capabilities by beating Kim Jandi (KOR) with kosoto-gari for waza-ari. After that, she beat Karakas Hedvig (HUN) with a side-takedown for waza-ari. She looked to be in great form as she stormed into the semi-finals.

Pool D: Caprioriu (ROU)
Caprioriu defeated Nora Gjakova (KOS) with a tomoe-nage for yuko and an uchimata, also for yuko. Next, she threw Lien Chen-Ling (TPE) with tani-otoshi for ippon for a place in the semi-finals.

In the first repercharge match, Portugal's Monteiro used tomoeo-nage against France's Pavia three times. The second time she tried to transition into an armlock but it didn't work. The third time though, she managed to straighten the arm for ippon.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Lien edged past Hungary's Karakas with a yuko score from a big uchimata that would have scored higher had the Hungarian not spun out as she did.

Dorjsuren made surprisingly short work of Matsumoto by taking her to the edge and dropping underneath her with a drop ippon-seoi-nage for an indisputable ippon.

The second semi-final match, between home favorite Silva and Romania's Caprioriu, had the audience members on the edge of their seats as the match went deep into Golden Score. At the three-minute mark Silva threw caution to the wind and launched into a big hooking osoto-gari. Caprioriu picked her up to try to do an ura-nage but the Brazilian proceeded to take her down for a waza-ari win.

Monteiro, who had been using tomoe-nage a lot in this competition, used it again and scored with it against Caprioriu. Although it was only given a yuko, Monteiro was able fight tactically for the rest of the match and won herself her first Olympic bronze medal.

The Lien-Matsumoto match was an equally exciting one as both players knew each other very well having trained together in Japan. Both also liked to do newaza and it showed in their match. Lien very nearly caught Matsumoto with a sankaku -- similar to the kind she caught Matsumoto with at the 2016 Guadalajara Grand Masters a few months back. For her part, Matsumoto tried a turnover that she specialized in which has caught many international players. She briefly trapped Lien with it but the Taiwanese player, who clearly was familiar with the technique, managed to escape. With less than a minute to go, Matsumoto attacked with kouchi-makikomi -- a technique she doesn't frequently use -- and caught her opponent by surprise. It scored yuko and it was enough to win her the bronze.

The final match gave the home crowd something to cheer about as local hero Silva went up against Mongolia's Dorjsuren for the gold. Both players had a shido on the scoreboard when Dorjsuren attempted a sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi which Silva countered with a hand movement for waza-ari. Although Silva's right arm briefly touched Dorjsuren's legs, it was deemed a legal move because she didn't let go of her grip on the Mongolian's sleeve. Silva then proceeded to fight a cautious tactical game to run out the clock and won herself, and her country, its first judo gold medal in the Games.

-73kg Overview

The men's -73kg division promised to be an exciting one with 35 participants battling it out for the top spot. The favorites were plentiful but none more so than Shohei Ono (JPN). But there were many  others who were very capable, including An Changrim (KOR), Denis Iartcev (RUS), Lasha Shavdatuashvili (GEO), Rustam Orujov (AZE), Dex Elmont (NED), Sagi Muki (ISR) and Rok Draksic (SLO)

Pool A: Van Tichelt (BEL)
An opened up the accounts by throwing Mohamad Kasem (SYR) with his trademark reverse seoi-nage for ippon. That brought him up against Dirk Van Tichelt (BEL) whom he tried to throw with a reserve seoi-nage as well but the experienced Belgian fighter was ready for that and countered him in spectacular fashion to score waza-ari. Van Tichelt, who has earlier easily beaten Morad Zemouri (QAT) with an armlock now had to face Denis Iartcev (RUS), a much tougher opponent. But Van Tichelt was on form and he threw the Russian with seoi-nage for waza-ari and then footswept him for yuko beofre time ran out. Van Tichelt was lucky, however, to not have been given more shidos as he was dropping down a lot.

Pool B: Ono (JPN)
Ono is one of those players who are able to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents just by reputation alone and this was obviously the case with Miguel Murillo (CRC) who received three shidos in under a minute for non-combativity. Not content to win on penalties, however, Ono proceeded to pin him for ippon. His next opponent, Victor Scvortov (UAE) was more willing to take the fight to Ono but that didn't stop Ono from throwing him with uchimata for ippon. Lasha Shavdatuashvili (GEO) was another tough cookie. Ono wasn't able to get the grip he needed to do uchimata so instead, he wrapped his arms around the Georgian's head and threw him with koshi-guruma for waza-ari.

Pool C: Orujov (AZE)
Orujov had a tough time against Didar Khamza (KAZ), and had to rely on penalties to get through his first bout. He won his next match, against Jake Bensted (AUS), more decisively with juji-gatame for ippon. Against his toughest opponent, Miklos Ungvari (HUN), he did well by countering the Hungarian's tomoe-nage attempt for a waza-ari score.

Pool D
Muki, ever the big thrower, launched Draksic with a left hip throw for ippon. He used the same technique in his next match, against Igor Wandtke (GER) and got a waza-ari for it. Against USA's Nick Delpopolo, he switched to osoto-gari and scored an ippon with it.

Iartcev looked set to win after he countered Shavdatuashvili's sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi for yuko midway through the match. With smart tactical play, he could run down the clock. With less than 30 seconds left, Shavdatuashvili scored with osoto-gari for waza-ari and just seconds later, counters him for waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

In contrast to the first repercharge match, the second one, between Ungvari and Delpopolo, was a very tactical one that was settled by a penalty in favor of the Hungarian. Not very exciting for the fans.

Ono showed just how versatile he was by throwing Van Tichelt with yoko-tomoe-nage for waza-ari, followed by drop morote-seoi-nage for yuko, before ending it with another yoko-tomoe-nage for ippon. His masterful performance proved that even if you can stop his uchimata, you can stop Ono from throwing you.

Although both Orujov and Muki are capable throwers, their semi-final match was a tactical one. With two minutes let in the match, there were already plenty of shidos on the scoreboard, with Muki having three to Orujov's two. Under pressure to get a score, Muki then got footswept for yuko. With the match being as tactically fought as it was, there was no chance for Muki to even up the score. 

Shavdatuashvili looked like a man possessed as he attacked Muki non-stop and eventually caught him with a hugging kosoto for ippon.

Ungvari is a good ground-fighter but that didn't deter Van Tichelt from taking the fight to him on the ground, strangling him before transitioning to an armlock for ippon.

If Orujov were to have any chance at beating Ono he would have to outgrip him but no amount of heavy gripping would stop Ono. He first threw Orujov with a low uchimata for waza-ari and, at the edge of the mat, he executed a kouch-gake that scored ippon. With that, he won Japan its first judo gold of the Games.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

-52kg Overview

The women's -52kg weight class featured a superstar in the form of Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS) but also competing was triple World Champion Misato Nakamura (JPN). A potential challenger to the both of them was Andreaa Chitu (ROU).

Pool A: Giufridda (ITA)
Chitu started her campaign well, throwing Laura Gomez (ESP) with a hip throw for yuko, followed by a very low soto-makikomi for waza-ari. Another soto-makikomi gave her waza-ari-awasatte-ippon.

This pitted her up against Odette Giufridda (ITA), who had beaten Mareen Kraeh (GER) with a direct attack tani-otoshi that scored yuko. On paper Chitu was the stronger competitor but in their match, Giufridda was the one who scored with a nicely-timed footsweep for yuko.

Pool B: Ma (CHN)
Home favorite Erika Miranda (BRA) won her first match  against Hela Ayari (TUN) by swinging her around, taking her to the ground and pinning her for ippon. The Tunisian suffered a badly injured left shoulder and had to be helped off the mat.

Miranda wasn't able to manhandle Ma Yingnan (CHN) but she was ahead by one penalty when, with less than 30 seconds to go, the Chinese player launched an ouchi-gari that scored waza-ari. And with that, she dashed Miranda's hope of Olympic gold.

Pool C: Kelmendi (KOS)
Kelmendi wasted no time launching Evelyne Schoppe (SUI) with an uchimata that thrilled the crowd. But in her next fight against Christianne Legentil (MRI), who had surprisingly beaten her by ippon in the 2012 London Olympics, Kelmendi was extremely cautious. Never really fully committing to her attacks, she relied on aggressive gripping to make her opponent look passive. Winning by penalties isn't what the crowd wanted to see but she was through to the semi-finals.

Pool D: Nakamura (JPN)
Nakamura used groundwork to defeat Tsolmon Adiyasambuu (MGL), pinning her for ippon. That victory brought her up against the very tough Natalia Kuziutina (RUS) for a spot in the semi-finals. It was a fierce battle that took them into Golden Score. There, the Japanese pinned her Russian opponent for the chance to face Kelmendi in the semi-finals.


In the first repercharge match, home favorite Miranda was down by waza-ari when she launched Romania's Chitu with a beautiful uchimata for a crowd-pleasing ippon.

Legentil of Mauritius played an overly defensive game against Russia's Kuziutina, who managed to catch Legentil on the ground and then pin her for ippon. But even if she hadn't, the Russian would have still won it on penalties.

A semi-final bout between Giufridda and Ma was not something the pundits would have expected. Theirs was a scrappy match and in the end, the Italian won by a penalty.

The semi-final match between Kelmendi and Nakamura could easily have been the final. It was also a very tactical fight. Although there were no big throws the crowd was fully into this match because of the personalities involved. In the end, Kelmendi won by shido although was very lucky not to have been given a shido herself as she was backtracking a lot towards the end.

Miranda and Nakamura's match was a closely fought one. Spurred on by the home crowd, Miranda took the fight to the Japanese and at the end of five minutes no one was ahead. Perhaps incensed at not being able to throw the Brazilian during regular time, Nakamura unleashed all her fury in Golden Score, launching non-stop attacks. Miranda was in danger of getting a shido when she was thrown by a sharp ouchi-gari for yuko.

Compared to the tense Miranda-Nakamura battle, the second bronze medal match between Russia's Kuziutina and China's Ma was a relatively tame affair. The uneventful match ended when the Russian beat pinned her Chinese opponent for ippon.

Giufridda could have fought a tactical match and try to beat Kelmendi by shido. That's what underdogs tend to do when faced against a top competitor. But the feisty Italian would not have any of that. Instead she took the offensive and did a bold direct-attack tani-otoshi (she used this to great effect in her earlier match against Germany's Kraeh). But it's always a danger this against an uchimata specialist like Kelmendi, who used that very technique to counter Gifridda for a yuko. After that, Kelmendi played a tactical game, running out the time to win herself an Olympic gold medal. Kudos however to Giufridda for daring to attack.

“I'm so happy. To be honest, I came here for the gold medal, but it's crazy. I'm so happy for me, for my coach, for all my country. This is the first time that Kosovo is part of the Olympics, and for the first time, I think gold is huge."

Final Results
1. KELMENDI, Majlinda (KOS)
2. GIUFFRIDA, Odette (ITA)  
3. NAKAMURA, Misato (JPN)
3. KUZIUTINA, Natalia (RUS)
5. MIRANDA, Erika (BRA)  
5. MA, Yingnan (CHN)
7. CHITU, Andreea (ROU)
7. LEGENTIL, Christianne (MRI)

-66kg Overview

The men's -66kg division promised to be a really exciting one with many top players competing, namely An Baul (KOR), Rishod Sobirov (UZB), Georgii Zantaraia (UKR), Masashi Ebinuma (JPN), Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj (MGL), Nijat Shikhalizada (AZE) and Mikhail Puliaev (RUS). Pools A and B went largely according to expectations but there was complete turmoil in Pools C and D as many lesser-known players upset the favorites.

Pool A: An (KOR)

South Korea's reigning World Champion An had a tough draw, with players from Kazakhstan, France and Uzebekistan in his way to the semi-final. But in the end, he managed to get past them rather handily. In his first match, against the unorthodox Zhansay Smagulov (KAZ), he scored waza-ari with a very low drop morote-seoi-nage and then ended the match with an armlock for ippon. It was a good first win. Next, he dispatched Kilian Le Blouch (FRA), firstly with a cross grip drop seoi-nage for waza-ari and then a double sleeve drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for ippon. He has a slightly harder time against former double World Champion Sobirov but his cross grip seoi-nage caught the Uzbek player by surprise for a waza-ari score. Although Sobirov is known for making last minute comebacks, he wasn't able to do it this time.

Pool B
Crowd-favorite, former World Champion Zantaraia, was shockingly knocked out in the first round by Sergiu Oleinic (POR), who threw him with a very low drop ippon-seoi-nage  for yuko. The Portuguese player then ran out the clock and with that, Zantaraia's Olympic quest was over.

Oleinic's match against Wander Mateo (DOM) was to be but a formality but this was the Olympics where big upsets can and do happen. Against all odds, the Dominican player lasted until Golden score. When Oleinic tried to catch him with a drop seoi-nage, Mateo had the presence of mind to counter... and for ippon, no less!

Japan's triple World Champion Ebinuma, who was also in that pool, threw home favorite Charles Chibana (BRA) with a reaching osoto-gari. The Brazilian tried to spin out but landed on his side, so a yuko score was given. Ebinuma then proceeded to pin Chibana for an ippon. Next, Ebinuma gave Ma Duanbin (CHN) a judo lesson, throwing with sumi-gaeshi for yuko, pinning for waza-ari and then throwing him again, this time with drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi, for ippon. It was a masterful performance.

Although Mateo had done well to get to the quarter-finals, Ebinuma was a bridge too far. The Japanese champion first threw him with a drop morote-seoi-nage for waza-ari, then a drop sode-tsurikomi-goshi for yuko, and finally a drop morote-seoi-nage for ippon. Ebinuma looked to be in top form.

Pool C
Mongolia's Davaadorj was the favorite here but in the quarter-final he came up against Fabio Basile (ITA), a relative unknown who was having the day of his life. The young Italian had earlier beaten tough opponents like Sebastian Seidl (GER), whom he had thrown with a drop sode-tsurikomi-goshi, and Azerbaijan's Shikhalizada, whom he had demolished with a side takedown and a foot-sweep for a waza-ari-awasatte-ippon. With that, he was through to the semi-finals. It was a surprise to everyone.

Pool D
Another huge upset was in the cards when Russia's Puliaev went up against Antoine Bouchard (CAN), who fought a highly tactical match that went into Golden Score. While there, Bouchard wasted no time clamping his grip on Puliaev's back and spinning him over to his side with sumi-gaeshi for yuko... and the win.

Bouchard would then meet Adrian Gomboc (SLO) in the quarter-final. The Slovenian had done remarkably well earlier, defeating Vazha Margelahsvili (GEO) with a drop sode-tsurikomi-goshi. He also had to beat Mathews Punza (ZAM) who had earlier shocked the stadium when he pinned Golan Pollock (ISR) for ippon. Punza didn't have it within him to create a second upset though and Gomboc was through.

In their quarter-final match, Gomboc countered Bouchard's clumsy uchimata for a waza-ari score early in the bout. Not content to coast on that lead, he went on to throw Bouchard with a rolling drop-seoi-nage for ippon.

Dominican Republic's Mateo fought the good fight against Uzbekistan's Sobirov and was actually ahead on penalties when the Uzbekh champion launched him with a huge uchimata for ippon.

In the second repercharge, Mongolia's Davaadorj was the aggressor while Canada's Bouchard fought a strategic game. In the last minute, Bouchard countered Davaadorj for waza-ari. It was yet another huge upset in a day already beset with many unexpected outcomes.

The An-Ebinuma semi-final match could easily have been the final. Excitement was in the air as these two top dogs stepped onto the mat. An got a shido first. Then Ebinuma got a shido as well. The match was pretty evenly fought until the end of regular time. In Golden Score, Ebinuma attempted a drop seoi-nage which An was able to counter for yuko.

Basile meanwhile had to rely on penalties for his semi-final win against Gomboc, but it was far from being a boring, tactical match. Both players made real attempts to throw the other and crowd showed its appreciation by roaring loudly each time an attack was made. 

Always calm, cool and collected, Sobirov won his bronze with a counter for waza-ari and then a strangle for ippon against Gomboc.

Ebinuma meanwhile, started his match against Bouchard cautiously, incurring a shido before ramping things up. Once he got started though, the attacks came in a flurry. A very low drop seoi-nage earned him a yuko. Not content to win with such a low score, Ebinuma followed that up with another drop seoi-nage. This time, it scored ippon.

With Ebinuma out of the way, An looked all set to claim the -66kg crown except things didn't go according to script. Basile scored the upset of the tournament by throwing An with a drop seoi-otoshi that landed the South Korean flat on his back. The crowd roared its approval as ippon was called. 

“Sincerely, I don't realise what's going on. Because in real life, I'm going to realise in a few hours that my life has always been judo."

Final Results
1. BASILE, Fabio (ITA)
2. AN, Baul (KOR)
3. SOBIROV, Rishod (UZB) 
3. EBINUMA, Masashi (JPN)
5. GOMBOC, Adrian (SLO)  
5. BOUCHARD, Antoine (CAN) 
7. MATEO, Wander (DOM)
7. DAVAADORJ, Tumurkhuleg (MGL)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

-48kg Overview

A total of 23 players took part in the Women's -48kg category. The top favorites were Urantsetseg Munkhbat (MGL), Sarah Menezes (BRA), Paula Pareto (ARG) and Ami Kondo (JPN).

Pool A: Jeong (KOR)
Munkhbat, a groundwork specialist, defeated her first opponent, Laetitia Payet (FRA) with juji-gatame for ippon. Then, disaster struck in her next match when she got hansoku-make for grabbing below the belt while trying to stop Jeong Bokyeong's drop seoi-nage. And with that, the former world champion was out. Jeong had earlier thrown Ngoc Tu Van (VIE) with a side takedown, and then pinned her for yuko before armlocking her for ippon.

Pool B: Alvarez (CUB)
Defending Olympic Champion Menezes threw Charline Van Snick (BEL) for yuko twice, firstly with harai-goshi, then with drop seoi-nage. Her opening match thrilled the home crowd, but the excitement of a first-day gold was extinguished when she was defeated by Dayaris Mestre Alvarez (CUB) by a mere shido penalty. Alvarez had some difficulty earlier with Asaramanitra Ratiarison (MAD) in the first round and had to rely on penalties for the win. She did much better against Julia Figueroa (ESP) using a drop hip technique that rolled her opponent over for waza-ari and then followed that up with an ouchi-gari for yuko.

Pool C: Pareto (ARG)
2015 World Champion Pareto showed her class by throwing Irina Dolgova (RUS) with very fast and very low drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for ippon. She then beat 2012 London Olympic bronze medalist Eva Csernoviczki (HUN) with a drop seoi-nage for waza-ari. The Hungarian player had badly injured her leg and could not fight properly. 

Pool D: Kondo (JPN)
Former World Champion Kondo had a surprisingly difficult time against Edna Carrillo (MEX) and was ahead by only a shido when she managed to lock on a pin for ippon in the dying seconds of the match. Then, she nearly lost her second match, against Otgonsetseg Galbadrakh (KAZ), who was ahead by a waza-ari, when in the last minute Kondo decided to engage in newaza and ended up pinning her for ippon.

In the first repercharge match, Munkhbat, a newaza expert, successfully straightened Menezes's arm in the dying seconds of the match but the Brazilian held on to take the match into Golden Score. There, Munkhbat again went after the Brazilian's arm and after an excruciating struggle, Menezes had no choice but to tap. The Brazilian held out for as long as she could and it looked like her arm was broken or at least dislocated.

In the second repercharge, Galbadrakh smashed Csernoviczki with a humongous ura-nage for ippon.

Jeong scored against Alvarez with a low sode-tsuri-komi-goshi for waza-ari and then ippon through a smoothly-executed side takedown. She is truly a master at this technique.

Pareto scored against Kondo early in their match, with a drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi that rolled the Japanese player on her back for waza-ari. Pareto then fought a strategic fight for the rest of the match, and won.

Munkhbat's match against Kondo was a real tactical one with a lot of grip fighting exchanges. Kondo however managed to eke out a yuko score with osoto-gari. Although only the top half of the Mongolian's body landed on the side, under IJF rules this is sufficient for a yuko.

Galbadrakh meanwhile used her trademark ura-nage to smash Alvarez to the mat. It was a massive ippon that the crowd appreciated. It was also vindication for Galbadrakh, formerly from Mongolia but who switched to Kazakhstan in August 2015 as Mongolia already had an Olympic candidate in the form of Munkhbat. Galbadrakh had her Olympic qualification points set back to zero and she had to build up them up again by taking part in many competitions in the IJF circuit. She managed to not just that but actually got good seeding too.

A good opening drop sode-tsuri-komi-goshi attack by Jeong sent Pareto flying through the air but she managed to land on her front. No score. A nice kouchi-gari by Pareto (off a double sleeve grip) scored waza-ari, which allowed her to play a tactical match until time ran out. Pareto was now not only a World Champion but an Olympic Champion too!

"I've dreamed a lot about this and I'm very happy because of all the people cheering. I began with a low performance but I improved my development and I'm very happy to beat a hard contender."
~ Paula Pareto

Final Results
1. PARETO, Paula (ARG)                                                
2. JEONG, Bokyeong (KOR)                                                                      
3. KONDO, Ami (JPN)                                   
3. GALBADRAKH, Otgontsetseg (KAZ)         
5. MUNKHBAT, Urantsetseg (MGL)                                
5. MESTRE ALVAREZ, Dayaris (CUB)        
7. MENEZES, Sarah (BRA)