Tuesday, August 16, 2016

-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. 

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