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!

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