Tuesday, August 16, 2016

-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.

1 comment:

  1. Is there a way to watch the event live on computer? Link anyone?