Monday, August 15, 2016

-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.

Repercharge
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.

Semi-Final
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. 

Bronze
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.

Gold
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.

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