Wednesday, August 17, 2016

+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.

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