Thursday, July 20, 2017

-81kg 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)

Khasan Khalmurzaev hasn't fought much since winning gold in Rio 2016 but when he does he shines. He is the top prospect in Budapest.

The -81kg category used to be loaded with lots of really top and exciting players like South Korea's World & Olympic Champion Kim Jae-Bum (now retired), Georgia's World Champion Avtandili Tchrikishvili (moved up a weight class), France's World Champion Loic Pietri (not selected) and USA's Olympic Silver Medalist Travis Stevens (seemingly retired).

They are all gone now but there remains two big prospects for the gold: Olympic Champion Khasan Khalmurzaev of Russia and World Champion Takanori Nagase of Japan. Both have fought very little since the 2016 Rio Olympics but when they did, they shone brightly. Khalmurzaev won the 2017 Ekaterinaburg Grand Slam while Nagase won the 2016 Tokyo Grand Slam. These men have fought only once, in 2015 at the Rabat World Masters where Nagase was triumphant.

The interesting thing is that while Khalmurzaev is ranked No. 2, Nagase is currently outside the Top 10 (he's currently No. 11). Depending on the draw, they might end up on the same side of the pool, which means they could meet earlier in the day rather than in the final.

Alan Khubetsov of Russia is the current World No. 1 and he has a great sode-tsurikomi-goshi. He is also the European Champion but he doesn't have the track record of Khalmurzaev.

Attila Ungvari is the home favorite. He did well in the Ekaterinaburg Grand Slam where he made it to the final (he lost to Khalmurzaev there). With home ground advantage, he might just pull off a suprise.

Other exciting players to watch are Ivaylo Ivanov of Bulgaria and Frank De Wit of the Netherlands, both of whom use a modified version of the Khabarelli technique with great effect. For more traditional or classical judo, you have to look at Victor Penalber of Brazil, who has massive throwing skills. Lastly, it's worth looking out for Antoine Valois-Fortier who recently won the Hohhot Grand Prix, defeating Russia's Khubetsov.

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