Judokas spreading the way.
IJF News - 11 August, 2016
The apotheosis of the Olympic judo tournament will come on Friday when, after six days of fierce fighting, a seventh and final day will showcase the heavyweights who will have their chance to be crowned Olympic champion on the tatami of the Carioca Arena 2.
It is certain that there will be strong people, both physically and mentally, on the tatami and many champions per square metre, as was the case today for the sixth day of the Olympic tournament during the opening matches of -100kg and -78kg.
The public and fans around the world expected a lot of the male category today, with all these champions, world and Olympic medallists, who could claim the title in 2016 and succeed the Russian Tagir Khaibulaev who was unable to extricate himself from a first round contest against the world number one Elmar Gasimov. The audience was not disappointed. The shocks were frequent as the athletes were competing at the height of the global sporting spectrum, the Olympic Games.
Rio 2016 Olympic -78kg champion Kayla HARRISON (USA)
When the tournament began on Saturday, it was still difficult to foresee the weekend. But here it is, the Games for the judoka is almost over. The atmosphere today was once again amazing, especially when Brazil won its second medal from Mayra AGUIAR (BRA).
It was in a packed arena that the best judoka of this era clashed with their hopes pinned to their bodies as they felt this inexplicable emotion that invades the champions after the final seconds of an Olympic final are over. Any description of this feeling would remain futile if we did not have the thousands of images and hours of television that allow people to follow judo at the Olympic Games moe than ever, not to mention the interaction that continues to grow on social media.
Rio 2016 Olympic -100kg champion Lukas KRPALEK (CZE)
At the end of the day, Mr. Marius VIZER, IJF President, said: "It's been six days now that judo is successful in Rio 2016. Six days that we have daily two new Olympic champions, who are not only champions on the mat but also in life. Judo is more than a sport and it allows everyone to build develop their mind and body. This is what the judoka around the world have shown since the beginning of the tournament.
“The American Kayla Harrison won her second Olympic title in a row today. This is a performance that few athletes are capable of achieving. She won today with style and respect for all her opponents. Czech athlete Lukas Krpalek was able to be Olympic champion in a category that was very tough. After his world title in 2014, it has been a little more difficult for him, but he is back in his best form and in time. I congratulate all those great champions, all medallists as well as all participants without whom we would not have the same success."
Mr. Sergey BUBKA, IOC Executive Board Member alongside Mr. Marius VIZER, IJF President
The IJF President was joined by a host of venerated guests including:
Mr. Sergey BUBKA - IOC Executive Board Member
Mr. Christophe DUBI - Olympic Games Executive Director - IOC
Mr. Laurent PETRYNKA - President of the International School Sport Federation
Mr. Denis MASSEGLIA - President of the NOC of France
Above - Mr. Marius VIZER, IJF President, with Mr. Christophe DUBI - Olympic Games Executive Director - IOC
Trinidad and Tobago's first ever Olympic judoka Christopher George (in blue) fought Myanmar flagbearer Yan Naing Soe in -100kg preliminary action
London 2012 Olympic champion Kayla HARRISON (USA) became a two-time Olympic champion on Thursday as she won all four of her contests by ippon on the greatest platform in the sport to become one of the greatest judoka of all time. America’s first Olympic judo champion HARRISON, 26, faced London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Audrey TCHEUMEO (FRA) in the -78kg Olympic final as the anticipated USA-Brazil showdown between home hero Mayra AGUIAR (BRA) and her American arch-rival did not materialise.
After winning the World Judo Masters in May, HARRISON spoke of the time she has been dedicating specifically to her ne-waza and that showed today as she won all of her contests on the ground. TCHEUMEO, who had the Olympic rings shaved into her hair, was tied up with the American as they both attacked with osoto-gari but both judoka cancelled each other out with a stern defence. The French fighter was caught on the ground, as have many of her teammates this week, as HARRISON produced great transition to submit her foe with a juji-gatame.
America’s double Olympic judo champion said: “Winning my first Olympic gold (in 2012), I thought nothing would ever get better but this is better."
“Like I've said before, what people don't realise is that it is not just today, it's the four years that led up to today. I can't tell you how many times I've drilled all of those situations, thousands and thousands and thousands. I've fought every single girl here a million times. My coaches made me fight in every tournament when I was tired, when I was injured, when I didn't want to fight. That's the reason that I won today, is because of them. They made me mentally tough and they made me ready for any situation."
In the first semi-final HARRISON humbled world silver medallist Anamari VELENSEK (SLO) with a juji-gatame having won her previous two contests by holding down her opponents.
In the second semi-final former world champion Mayra AGUIAR (BRA) squared off in a battle of London 2012 Olympic bronze medallists as she fought fellow former world champion Audrey TCHEUMEO (FRA). As ‘Ole, ole, ole, ole, Mayra, Mayra' chants rang out around the Carioca Arena 2 the contest was settled by shido penalties as TCHEUMEO was not even remotely unsettled by the home reaction for the Brazilian star. The Frenchwoman won 1:2 on shidos to make sure that she would improve on her London bronze.
In the first bronze medal contest AGUIAR faced Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist Yalennis CASTILLO (CUB) who had been involved in the longest contest of the competition so far as she beat Dutch fighter and former world champion Marhinde VERKERK in her second contest after an incredible tussle which required an additional seven minutes of golden score action after the four minutes of regulation time. AGUIAR went ahead with a yuko and trapped the Cuban in osaekomi but to her credit the seasoned campaigner plugged away and found a way out before conceding a score. Brazil clinched their second medal of the competition as AGUIAR saw out the remaining time without any scares to become a double Olympic bronze medallist.
The second bronze medal contest saw VELENSEK defeat European bronze medallist Luise MALZAHN (GER) to win Slovenia’s second medal of the week. A strangle from the Slovenian subdued the German fighter who was well-backed by her travelling supporters as she came up short in her bid to win Germany’s second judo medal at Rio 2016. The Slovenian was the only new fighter on the -78kg podium from London as three of the four were there with 2012 silver medallist Gemma GIBBONS (GBR) the only absentee.
TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA) vs HARRISON, Kayla (USA)
Bronze Medal Fights
AGUIAR, Mayra (BRA) vs CASTILLO, Yalennis (CUB)
VELENSEK, Anamari (SLO) vs MALZAHN, Luise (GER)
VELENSEK, Anamari (SLO) vs HARRISON, Kayla (USA)
AGUIAR, Mayra (BRA) vs TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA)
1. HARRISON, Kayla (USA)
2. TCHEUMEO, Audrey (FRA)
3. AGUIAR, Mayra (BRA)
3. VELENSEK, Anamari (SLO)
5. CASTILLO, Yalennis (CUB)
5. MALZAHN, Luise (GER)
7. JOO, Abigel (HUN)
7. POWELL, Natalie (GBR)
The Czech Republic’s Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony flagbearer Lukas KRPALEK (CZE) became the standard-bearer today as he won his country’s first Olympic judo medal and first gold in any sport at Rio 2016. Former world champion KRPALEK, 25, already had all the motivation he needed with a tilt at an Olympic title at stake but welcomed his new born baby Antonin to the world just a fortnight ago and was fighting for him and his late teammate Alexandr JURECKA who tragically passed away last year. World Judo Masters bronze medallist KRPALEK faced top seed Elmar GASIMOV (AZE) in the -100kg final and with everything in the balance with 30 seconds remaining it was the Czech fighter who delivered the defining moment as he threw the Azeri for ippon with an ouchi-gari to ensure that his team’s first Olympic judo medal was the most valuable and beautiful.
KRPALEK said: “Many people told me, 'Lukas, you will be champion, you will be champion'. That was very hard. A lot of people in Czech Republic had huge expectations. I am the number one in the Czech Republic and I am a legend in judo at home.
"In the first round and in the second round I did not feel so good. Every match was so hard, but the first and the second match were even harder, because I fought with small guys and I don't like that. I am very proud that I could win the first Olympic medal for Czech Judo, the gold medal. It is amazing."
The Czech Republic hero spoke about his touching tribute to his friend and teammate JURECKA (CZE) who died in a diving accident in September 2015 in Italy.
"In the last two matches I thought so strongly about my friend. I can't lose the match. I was thinking about him the whole day and especially in the last two matches. I had his picture with me all the time."
In the first semi-final GASIMOV bested Havana Grand Prix winner Artem BLOSHENKO (UKR) as he explosively booked a place in the -100kg final to guarantee his country a second judo medal at Rio 2016. The Azeri screamed with delight and threw his arms into the air as he let all of his emotion out as his dreams looked poised to come true.
In the second semi-final KRPALEK faced Cyrille MARET (FRA) who was determined to make a mark at the Olympics. The Czech fighter held down MARET with a tate-shiho-gatame to secure a place in the Olympic final.
The first -100kg bronze medal contest saw birthday man MARET whipped the French fans and their flags into a frenzy as he beat Karl-Richard FREY (GER) with a thunderous osoto-gari for ippon.
The second -100kg bronze medal contest saw world champion HAGA Ryunosuke (JPN) – who lost his scoreless quarter-final to KRPALEK on shidos – defeat BLOSHENKO on the ground as the Japanese men continued their prolific record of medalling in all six categories to date with heavyweight hope HARASAWA Hisayoshi (JPN) their last man in action on Friday.
Lukas KRPALEK (CZE) vs GASIMOV, Elmar (AZE)
Bronze Medal Fights
MARET, Cyrille (FRA) vs FREY, Karl-Richard (GER)
BLOSHENKO, Artem (UKR) vs HAGA, Ryunosuke (JPN)
BLOSHENKO, Artem (UKR) vs GASIMOV, Elmar (AZE)
KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE) vs MARET, Cyrille (FRA)
1. KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE)
2. GASIMOV, Elmar (AZE)
3. MARET, Cyrille (FRA)
3. HAGA, Ryunosuke (JPN)
5. FREY, Karl-Richard (GER)
5. BLOSHENKO, Artem (UKR)
7. DARWISH, Ramadan (EGY)
7. GVINIASHVILI, Beka (GEO)
Friday - 12 August
10:00 - 13:00 Preliminaries
15:30 - 18:10 Final block
Location: Carioca Arena 2
IJF Media & Communications Department
Mark Pickering, IJF Media Manager
Nicolas Messner, IJF Media Director
Photos © IJF Media by G. Sabau, Tamas Zahonyi and Jack Willingham
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