London – GBR, July 31, 2012: Urska Zolnir took Slovenia’s first ever gold medal in judo, after putting on a judo masterclass in the women’s -63kgs weight category. The male gold medal was won by Jae-bum Kim in the -81kgs category, which gave Korea their first gold medal and second overall medal of the judo tournament.
In the -63kgs Yoshie Ueno (JPN), the top seed, and Gevrise Emane (FRA), the second seed were unable to get through the preliminaries, both losing in the quarter finals. Ueno and Emane have been so dominant in the weight over the last four years that any discussion on who would win the -63kg Olympic gold resulted in only the two of them being mentioned. They have been far above the chasing pack for some years and were equally devastated not to make it to the final, especially in the other one’s absence. Ueno, lost a tight quarter-final against Da-woon Joung, before going on to beat Elisabeth Willeboordse in the repechage final and Munkhzaya Tsedevsuren (MGL) in the bronze medal contest.
Japan would have been confident of leading the judo medal table at this stage. In the four lightest female weight categories, which Japan have largely dominated since the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, they have only had a representative in one of the finals. They need some big performances from their heavyweights to stand any chance of topping the table come the end of the Games.
France, meanwhile, have their own realistic ambition of leading the table, but were unable to take advantage today, as Emane crashed out to the impressive Tsedevsuren in her quarter-final. After a repechage win over Alice Schlesinger (ISR) she won a flag decision against Joung. Emane made it four bronze medals for France so far in the judo.
The final was between Zolnir, who had scored an amazing four Ippons on route to the final, and Lili Xu of China. Zolnir ducked underneath Xu with just over a minute gone, scoring the decisive Waza-ari from a drop shoulder throw. It secured her and Slovenia Olympic gold.
In the-81kgs an awesome Travis Stevens (USA) and Ole Bischof (GER) blasted their way to the one side of the Olympic draw to meet in the semi final. Stevens was a man possessed all day, attacking and chasing every contest. In the quarter-final he caused a big upset, when he took out the world number one and top seed Leandro Guilheiro (BRA).
Bischof, the reigning Olympic Champion at the weight, has been in inspired form in 2012, winning the 2012 Paris Grand Slam and 2012 Dusseldorf Grand Prix. From his very first contest Bischof set out his stall to attack, attack, attack and nothing else. He is arguably the best judoka in the world in Newaza at the moment. In all three of his eliminations he won on the ground; the first two were hold-downs and then, most spectacularly, the third a Juji-gatame armlock against Japanese seed Takahiro Nakai.
The semi final between Stevens and Bischof was one of the hardest contests in judo history. Both men threw everything at the fight, attacking relentlessly, and were still doing so as Golden Score came to an end, with still nothing to separate them. This was one of those very rare contests where neither judoka deserves to lose. But in the end one has to, and the decision went unanimously in favour of Bischof.
On the other side of the draw Korea’s double World Champion Jae-bum Kim had battled through some tight preliminary contests before he overcame 2009 World Champion Ivan Nifontov (RUS) in the semi final to set up a final showdown with Bischof. Both judoka wanted it so badly, but Kim had a bit more in the locker. Perhaps the toll of the semi-final prevented Bischof from really chasing the contest like he usually does. Two Yuko scores from Kim was enough to secure him and Korea the title.
As with Bischof, Stevens was shattered from his semi-final encounter and it made all the difference against Antonie Valois-Fortier, who closed the contest out by a single Yuko. Valois-Fortier had put in a remarkable display himself, coming from nowhere and no real results of significance, to put away three medal prospects for the category – Elnur Mammadli (AZE), Euan Burton (GBR) and Srdjan Mrvaljevic (MNE) – before losing to Nifontov in the semi final. As the fight ended both he and Stevens broke down in tears. Both men had been brilliant all day, but unfortunately only one of them would be standing on the podium. The second bronze was taken by Nifontov, who threw Nakai twice for Waza-ari. His medal was Russia’s third in the men’s weights from a potential four. They maintain their position on top of the judo medal table with two golds and Nifontov’s bronze.
ROUND BY ROUND: WOMEN -63kg: ZOLNIR SEES OFF ASIAN CHALLENGE
TO TAKE GOLD FOR SLOVENIA
Surrounded by the powerhouses of Asian judo Urska Zolnir rose to become Slovenia’s first Olympic judo champion. With her shock of bleached, short blonde hair Zolnir lit up the arena not just with her powerful judo techniques. The top four seeds ended up on the podium albeit in a slightly different order. “ I woke up this morning having dreamed of ending up in the top five. But after the semi final with the Mongolian I was sure that I could win gold.”
In the first round of matches Ueno Yoshie JPN began well with a straightforward win over Garima Chaudhary IND by kesagatame within the first minute. Ramila Yusubova AZE scored yuko with uchi mata then nidan ko soto gake for waza ari for a win over Gulnar Hayytbaeva TKM. Home fans were disappointed when world champion Gevrise Emane FRA was awarded the contest after Gemma Howell GBR was disqualified for a direct leg grab. Tsedevsuren Munkhzaya MGL threw Jennifer Anson PLW with ko uchi gari for waza ari before applying a strangle for ippon. Next it was the turn of the dangerous Xu Lili CHN who threw Marianna Silva BRA with makikomi for waza ari after three minutes. Elisabeth Willeboordse NED scored waza ari with tani otoshi before applying sangakujime for ippon against Caren Chammas LIB. Urska Zolnir SLO threw Claudia Malzahn GER with ura nage before applying jujigatame for ippon and Hilde Drexler AUT wrapped up the first round when she scored yuko with ko uchi gari on Rizien Zouak MAR in the final 11 seconds to take the contest.
The second round required a step up from Ueno Yoshie JPN and she was taken into golden score by Marijana Miskovic CRO where the Japanese threw with a low left sided tai otoshi for yuko. Joung Da Woon had a bye in the first round but looked sharp in defeating Ramila Yusubova AZE with kuzure yokoshigatame for ippon. A tired looking Gevrise Emane FRA was taken into golden score by Yaritza Abel Rojas CUB where the Frenchwoman gained a hantei decision. Xu Lili CHN was blistering as she threw Edwige Gwend ITA with for waza ari with koshi guruma then held the Italian with keasa gatame. Elisabeth Willeboordse NED defeated Sevrine Nebie BUR with a shime waza whilst the fast improving Tsedevsuren Munkhzaya MGL threw Johanna Ylinen FIN for ippon with koshi guruma. Urska Zolnir SLO defeated Estafania Garcia ECU before Alice Schlesinger ISR closed out round two with a narrow win over Hilde Drexler AUT by shido.
In the quarter final Ueno Yoshie JPN was unable to come to terms with an aggressive Joung Da-Woon KOR losing by yuko and will have to look to the repechage for a chance at the bronze. Meanwhile Xu Lili CHN threw Elisabeth Willeboordse NED for ippon beautifully with uchi mata. Gevrise Emane FRA and Tsedevsuren Munkhzaya MGL fought it out in golden score but the Mongolian proved the more positive over the entire contest the French women’s luck runnig out and the Mongolian getting the hantei decision. Urska Zolnir SLO threw Alice Schlesinger ISR with seoi nage for ippon to book her place in the semi final.
There was very little to choose between Ueno Yoshie JPN and Willeboordse NED in the afternoon’s opening repechage contest and it looked as though it would go to golden score. But with only two seconds left on the clock Uneo came up with an o uchi gari kata guruma combination for yuko to bring about a heartbreaking defeat for Willeboordse. In the second repechage contest Gevrise Emane FRA faced Alice Schlesinger ISR. There were no score after five minutes and the pair went into golden score. Emane was able to raise her tempo, Schlesinger eventually being penalized and the contest going to Emane.
The first semi final was an all-Asian match up between Joung Da-Woon KOR and Xu Lili CHN. Joung, tall and rangy, caused Xu several problems with her extreme stance. But the shorter Chinese showed nice movement, good mat awareness and put in plenty of attacks to edge ahead and take the contest on a shido.
Next up was Tsedevsuren Munkhzaya MGL who was up against Urska Zolnir SLO. The Slovenian is known for her strong counters and ura nage and countered a Tsedevsuren uchi mata attack for ippon and take a place in the final with Xu.
Bronze Medal Matches
The first bronze medal match was between Ueno Yoshie JPN and Tsedevsuren Munkhzaya MGL. Ueno had to call on all of her experience to keep out the Mongolian and she took the contest on a single shido. It was not, however, her most sparkling performance. Emane FRA in turn in found it hard to find her best form in her bronze medal match with Joung Da-Woon KOR. Their match went to golden score with Emane coming out on top and the bronze medal.
The final was between China’s Xu Lili and Urska Zolnir SLO. It was the Slovenian who set the early pace, attacking strongly with her trademark ura nage before scoring with a quick left sided morote seoi nage to score waza ari. Xu was on the defensive thereafter, watchful of the quick fire tempo employed by Zolnir and, despite conceding yuko with ippon seoi nage it was Zolnir who took the gold.
ROUND BY ROUND: MEN -81kg: KIM TURNS TABLES ON BISCHOF
Kim Jae-Bum’s KOR gold medal winning performance may in some way help to erase the memories of his defeat to Ole Bischof in Beijing in 2008. In taking the -81kg category here today, Kim wrested the crown from Bischof in a controlled and workmanlike performance that had more to do with Bischof’s drained condition than Korean superiority. Not to take anything away from Kim however. He was as polished and entertaining as we have come to expect and wears the crown by right. “It’s the happiest day of my life and I’ve waited these last for years to achieve this goal”. Despite his loss, Bischof was gracious in praising Kim. “Of course I’m sorry to have lost the final but I was completely drained after my semi final with Stevens. Now it’s my turn to be runner-up for the next four years.”
Artem Vasylenko UKR opened the proceedings but was thrown for ippon with morote seoi by Islam Bozbayev KAZ. It was an excited crowd that greeted Elnur Mammadli AZE who was taken into golden score by the unfancied Antoine Valois-Fortier CAN the Canadian winning the hantei decision and, in the process putting out a jaded looking Mammadli.
We were quickly into the second round where number one seed Leandro Guilheiro BRA armlocked Konstantins Ovchinnikovs LAT in the final 30 seconds of the contest. Liva Saree LBR failed to show for the weigh-in giving Safouane Attaf MAR a walkover. Travis Stevens USA had a narrow win against Aljaz Sedej SLO by a single shido. Tomislav Marijanovic CRO lost to Avtandil Tchrikishvili GEO when the young Georgian threw him for waza ari with o uchi gari.
Reigning Olympic champion Ole Bischof GER began the defence of his title by executing a beautiful turnover in newaza to score waza ari on Antonio Ciano ITA for the winning score. “That was really a good first match” said Bischof. “But Antonio CIANO is really strong, he is a physical monster. His world ranking position does not reflect his real strength. It was a hard battle from the very beginning, not only after the warning (shido). In the middle of the match I almost armlocked him, but could not accomplish my technique until the end. But in the next situation I was more consistent in my technical action and got him. All of my opponents will have their matches to fight too. All will lose strength and power.
It is the same situation for all of us.” Bischof added “I am a bit confused because everything looks good. My opponent really had me at the edge of a defeat. He was quicker, tried a lot of techniques. But the bout is only over when it is over. After the early score against me I was always looking for a solution to that problem. I had to leave the prepared tactical line, what is quite untypical for me. I tried several approaches. Finally my better endurance, my very good conditioning level decided the match, definitely. I have followed the advice of my coach during the last half-year, went on jogging a lot to improve my endurance which helped me to win this bout.”
Next up to savor the Olympic experience was Sacha Dnanych TOG who was thrown twice with morote seoi nage by Islam Bosbayev KAZ. Seriu Toma MDA threw Jaromir Musil CZE with a huge o goshi for ippon whilst Nakai Takahiro JPN won by ippon to bring round two to a close. Number two seed Kim Jae Bum KOR was next up when he threw Yakhyo Imamov UZB with o soto gari for yuko and the winning score. Pulu Wiradamungga INA was thrown with morote seoi nage by Csoknyai Laszlo HUN then held with mune gatame for ippon. This brought Frenchman Alain Schmitt and Guilaume Elmont NED to the tatami for what proved a bruising second round encounter, Schmitt eventually taking the contest on a hantei. Fetra Ratsimiziva MAD was thrown for ippon with sode tsuri komi goshi by Emmanuel Lucenti ARG
Which quickly brought Valois-Fortier CAN and Euan Burton GBR to the mat. But it was disappoinment for for the British as Burton was thrown for ippon. Srdjan Mrvaljevic MNE defeated Josateki Naulu FIJ
Whilst Ivan Nifontov RUS overcame Reginald De Windt IOA. Omar Simmonds Pea PAN was thrown for waza ari with ko uchi gari by Joachim Bottieau BEL then strangled Simmonds Pea with okuri eri jime bringing the second round to a close.
The third round got underway with Leandro Guilheiro BRA throwing Safouane Attaf MAR with morote seoi nage for ippon. Travis Stevens USA and Avtandil Tchirikishvili GEO went into golden score. But the Georgian ran out of power and Stevens got him to the ground where he applied a shime waza for the win. Ole Bischof GER and Islam Bozbayev KAZ also went into golden score, the Olympic champion pressing hard in newaza on several occasions before coming up with the turn over and the win.
Nakai Takahiro JPN defeated Sergiu Toma MDA in a very tactical contest, the Japanese winning on a penalty. Kim Jae-Bum KOR was taken the distance by Csoknyai Laszlo HUN eventually shading the contest on the back of a shido to Csoknyai. Alain Schmitt GER was thrown somewhat surprisingly with de ashi barai for ippon by Emannuel Lucenti ARG whilst Antoine Valois-Fortier CAN continued to impress throwing Srdjan Mrvaljevic MNE with tomenage for yuko then tai otoshi for waza ari to put out the world silver medalist. Ivan Nifontov RUS was taken to golden score by Joachim Bottieau BEL where the Russian showed fine skill in putting together a ko uchi gari te guruma combination for a match winning waza ari.
The Quarter finals began with a bang when Leandro Guilheiro BRA was thrown with morote seoi nage for waza ari by Travis Stevens USA. Ole Bischof GER managed to work his magic in newza again, this time armlocking Nakai Takahiro JPN with jujigatame. Kim Jae-Bum KOR was never troubled by Emannuel Lucenti ARG the latter committing several errors and ending up with three penalties. Antoine Valois-Fortier CAN was thrown with harai makikomi for waza ari by Ivan Nifontov RUS bringing the quarter finals to a close. Repechage
The last time Leandro Guilheiro BRA faced Nakai Takahiro JPN the Brazilian ended up breaking his arm. But Nakai got a small piece of pay back in winning by a single yuko and earning a chance to fight for bronze. The second of the repechage contests featured Emannuel Lucenti ARG and Antoine Valois-Fortier. The Canadian scored waza ari with uchi mata with 2:20 left on the clock. Lucenti tried desperately to pull the score back but could not, and it was Valois-Fortier who progressed to fight for bronze.
Travis Stevens USA faced Ole Bischof GER in the first semi final. The pair, team-mates at Abensberg in the European Club Cup competition, met in the third round in Beijing 2008 with Bischof came out on top. Their match here in London was a memorable encounter, both fighters giving absolutely everything in a “dust-up” that had a noticeably tough and combative edge to it. Stevens suffered a cut above the left eye that needed lengthy attention and bandaging. The contest went to golden score where Bischof was given the decision, both fighters leaving the tatami showing respect to one another despite the battling nature of the preceding eight minutes. Kim Jae Bum’s KOR semi final with Ivan Nifontov RUS did not contain the quite the same “bite” and, once Kim had scored waza ari with seoi nage, the Korean controlled the remainder of the match comfortably.
Bronze Medal Matches
Ivan Nifontov heaped greater misery on the Japanese men’s team by destroying Nakai Takahiro JPN in the first of the bronze medal matches. Throwing Nakai twice Nifontov’s bronze brought the Russian men’s team their third medal to date at these Games. Travis Stevens USA faced Antoine Valois-Fortier CAN in the second of the bronze medal matches.
The final between Ole Bischof GER and KIM Jae-Bum KOR was a repeat of the Olympic final in Beijing in 2008. Kim scored twice within the first two minutes with o uchi gari after which he was in total control of the contest. Bischof for his part had been drained in his semi final with Stevens and it must have been desperately disappointing for Bischof to find the tank empty when put his foot to the floor. Kim it was then who took gold and deservedly so. But the sportsmanship, spirit and courage shown by Bischof and Stevens throughout the day was the stuff that inspires.
FINAL RESULTS: Women’s -63kg
1. ZOLNIR, Urska (SLO)
2. XU, Lili (CHN)
3. EMANE, Gevrise (FRA)
3. UENO, Yoshie (JPN)
5. JOUNG, Da-Woon (KOR)
5. TSEDEVSUREN, Munkhzaya (MGL)
7. SCHLESINGER, Alice (ISR)
7. WILLEBOORDSE, Elisabeth (NED)
Men’s -81kg: Final Results
1. KIM, Jae-Bum (KOR)
2. BISCHOF, Ole (GER)
3. NIFONTOV, Ivan (RUS)
3. VALOIS-FORTIER, Antoine (CAN)
5. NAKAI, Takahiro (JPN)
5. STEVENS, Travis (USA)
7. GUILHEIRO, Leandro (BRA)
7. LUCENTI, Emmanuel (ARG). —- IJF