Tuesday, July 18, 2017

-66kg Analysis

Full Analysis


+100kg Men: Riner (FRA)
+78kg Women: Asahina (JPN)
-100kg Men: Haga (JPN)
-78kg Women: Tcheumeo (FRA)
-90kg Men: Toth (HUN)
-70kg Women: Arai (JPN)
-81kg Men: Khalmurzaev (RUS)
-63kg Women: Trstenjak (SLO)
-73kg Men: Soichi Hashimoto (JPN)
-57kg Women: Tsukasa Yoshida (JPN)
-66kg Men: Hifumi Abe (JPN)
-52kg Women: Majlinda Kelmendi (KOS)
-60kg Men: Naohisa Takato (JPN)
-48kg Women: Urantsetseg Munkhbat (MGL)

Hifumi Abe may be ranked No. 7 but he is by far the top favorite to win the gold in Budapest.
The -66kg division is an interesting one with a few top prospects and many dark horses who may just pull off an upset.

The top ranking player is South Korea's An Baul but rankings sometimes really do not reflect who is the top favorite. In this case, the one who many people think will win the gold is 7th ranked Hifumi Abe of Japan.

An, a former world champion, is surely a top prospect for the final. He has not fought in many major tournaments since the 2016 Rio Olympics where he got silver. But he did win the 2017 Asian Championships. He's only fought Abe once, back in 2014 in the World Junior Championships. He lost that one.

Abe, who is still only 19 years old, has had a string of stunning victories in the past year. He won gold at the 2016 Tyumen Grand Slam, the 2016 Tokyo Grand Slam and the 2017 Paris Grand Slam, all very convincingly. There simply isn't any player around who is as dynamic as this young superstar. He is the firm favorite for gold.

One player who might be able to upset him on the way to the top, if they happen to meet in the preliminary rounds, is Mongolia's Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj who has fought and beaten Abe twice. But this was back in 2015. Abe has come a long way since then. Still, the cagey Mongolian might be Abe's undoing.

Former World Champion Georgii Zantaraia did poorly in the 2016 Rio Olympics but he has bounced back this year, winning the 2017 European Championships. He also got a silver medal at the 2017 Hohhot Grand Prix. The only time he fought Abe and An was at the same competition, the 2014 Tokyo Grand Slam, where he lost to both of them. But Zantaraia is a such an unpredictable, explosive and dynamic player. On a good day he can't beat anyone in the world and he might just be able to pull it off in Budapest.

Two dark horses with big throws are Nijat Shikhalizada of Azerbaijan and Charles Chibana of Brazil. Neither has fought Abe before. It would be an interesting encounter if they did in Budapest. Another dark horse worth mentioning is Abdula Abdulzhalilov of Russia who has had some very good results lately, including golds at the 2017 Ekaterinaburg Grand Slam, the 2017 Antalya Grand Prix and the 2016 Qingdao Grand Prix.  He lost to An in 2017 Rome World Cup thought and he has never fought Abe.

Italy's Fabio Basile has only competed once since winning the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He took part in the 2016 Tokyo Grand Slam where he lost his first match to a relatively unknown Japanese player named Norihito Isoda (currently ranked No. 50). Since then he has taken part in a dance contest but no judo. It's not even clear whether he will compete in Budapest.

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