World Judo Championships:
1: 26 July, 2001
By: Barnaby Chesterman
Go to: Day 1, Day
2, Day 3, Day
out our photo gallery »
as they did two years ago in Birmingham, Japan dominated the opening
day of the World Judo Championships in Munich on Thursday. And the
star of the Japanese team was the prodigiously gifted Kosei Inoue,
who once again stole the headlines. The first day promised much with
two current Olympic champions and three current world champions on
display. There was also a sizeable crowd, although it did take time
to pick up throughout the day. The Germans put on some traditional
dancing for the opening ceremony, which was greatly enhanced by the
warm atmosphere created by excellent lighting. The acoustics also
helped the atmosphere as at times the crowd managed to create enough
noise to suggest the Olympic stadium was full.
Women's over 100kg
This category had a particularly strong field with Olympic champion
Hua Yuan of China leading the way. Yuan was also runner-up in Birmingham
two years ago, so was eager to win her first world title. Yuan is
probably the only woman in the heavyweight category who can throw
with a standing Ippon-seoi-nage, which is her most potent weapon.
She went through her first two opponents, Carmen Chala of Ecuador
and Marie Ellis Veys of Belgium, very quickly, throwing both for Ippon
with her favourite technique. She then had a tough battle with Hsiao
Hung Lee of Chinese Taipei but threw her for Ippon with O-soto-gari
from an initial Ippon-seoi-nage attack. Yuan faced Karina Bryant of
Great Britain in the semi-final, in what promised to be her toughest
fight yet. Bryant was commanding form having beaten both Mariana Prokofieva
of Ukraine and Tsvetlana Bozhilova of Bulgaria by Ippon. Bryant's
Tsuri-goshi throw for victory against Bozhilova was particularly impressive.
But Yuan demonstrated just why she is the Olympic champion and dominated
the gripping from the start. The Chinese fighter caused Bryant many
problems pulling her head down and soon scored Yuko with Ouchi-gari.
Bryant could not match her energy and Yuan added Waza-ari with Te-guruma,
following it into Tate-shiho-gatame for victory.
That set up an all-Asian final against the 20-year-old up-and-coming
Japanese star. Midori Shintani fought well to reach the semi-final
but few expected her to beat the World Open champion, Daima Beltran
of Cuba. Beltran had edged out Sandra Koeppen of Germany on a split
decision in the quarter-final and looked the most likely contender
for Yuan. Beltran dominated most of the semi-final encounter but crucially
Shintani scored Waza-ari with Ouchi-gari mid-way through the bout.
Beltran twice scored Yuko and Shintani was penalised Shido, but she
held on for a place in the final.
The young Japanese started aggressively and fought well for her grip.
But Yuan was on top form and eventually forced an opening, attacking
with Ippo-seoi-nage and driving Shintani to the side to score Yuko.
Another lightning Ippon-seoi-nage attack gave her another Yuko and
Shintani never looked like threatening again.
There was some cheer for the home crowd as Koeppen took a bronze medal
with a powerful display to overcome Bryant in just one minute. The
pair had battled out a thrilling semi-final in the European Championships
in Paris two months ago, but this time Koeppen was dominant. She took
Bryant down with Tani-otoshi and then controlled her into an unbreakable
hold. Beltran also bounced back from her disappointment to narrowly
clinch the other bronze medal with a decision against Veys.
Men's over 100kg
With France's Olympic champion David Douillet now retired, his conquered
opponent from the Sydney final, Shinichi Shinohara of Japan, was the
overwhelming favourite for this title. He started well enough with
two comfortable victories against Nacani Qerawaqa of Fiji and Abdull
Tangriev of Uzbekistan, and looked formidable. But Alexandre Mikhailine
of Russia had a rude awakening waiting for him in the quarter-final.
Mikhailine seemed to be sparked into attack by fear as Shinohara took
hold of him, but he caught the reigning double World champion cold
and spun underneath him, turning him onto his back for Ippon with
Sumi-gaeshi after just 12 seconds of the contest. Everyone in the
stadium was stunned, none more so than Shinohara himself, who hasn't
tasted defeat by Ippon since another Russian, Tamerlan Tmenov, beat
him in the final of the Minsk 'A' tournament three years ago.
That victory boosted the confidence of the European Open champion
who then scored a brilliant Ippon against the huge Iranian, Fashandi
Miran, in the semi-final. With the scores locked, Mikhailine unleashed
a powerful left-handed O-goshi and spun the Iranian onto his back.
That set up a final against the giant Chechnyen-turned-Turk, Selim
Tataroglu. He pinned the silver-medallist from Birmingham, Indrek
Pertelson of Estonia, for Ippon in his semi-final, having stormed
through his opening two rounds.
The final was a fairly dull affair, though, as Tataroglu is not the
most dynamic of fighters and his sheer size and power forced a cautious
approach from Mikhailine. But the young Russian is maturing into one
of the most fearsome heavyweight fighters in the world and also has
a good tactical head for one with such young shoulders. Mikhailine
was only fighting in the heavyweight category because of an injury
to Tmenov, but as the European Open champion, and bronze medallist
at under 100kg in Birmingham, he is was already one of the favourites.
Just as their bout in the European championships had been decided
on penalties, so too was this one. Mikhailine feared Tataroglu's big
hip throws, but the Turk was not fast enough to feel he could really
threaten. So what manifested was a tactical stalemate as the two traded
penalties, until Mikhailine put in a string of swift attacks leaving
Tataroglu penalised alone. That was all it took to decided the final
and Tataroglu eventually earned Hansoku-make for passivity, giving
Mikhailine his first world title. Many more may follow for this talented
fighter, at least until Inoue finally steps up to heavyweight. Shinohara
proved his class by easily bouncing back to take bronze. In the repechage
his opponents were all too aware of his left Uchi-mata attack, but
Shinohara switched to O-soyto-gari with devastating effect. Germany's
Andreas Toelzer lasted less than 30 seconds and then Pertelson was
dispatched with a minute to spare in the fight for a podium finish.
The other bronze went to Miran who edged out Georgi Tonkov of Bulgaria
to win a rare medal for Iran at this level.
Women's under 78kg
The biggest surprise in this category came during the draw yesterday
when it transpired that China had not entered a fighter. Neither Olympic
champion Li Tang nor World silver-medallist, Yufeng Yin, were present,
so the draw appeared to be a likely shoot out between World champion,
Noriko Anno of Japan and Olympic silver-medallist, Celine Lebrun of
France. It certainly appeared that way right up to the semi-finals
as both progressed authoritatively. Anno eased into the semi-finals
with convincing victories over Samby Dashdylam of Mongolia, Claudia
Zwiers of the Netherlands and Paulina Monney Akissi of Cote d'Ivoire.
The semi-final against So -Yeon Lee of South Korea was a lot tougher,
though, and Anno squeezed through courtesy of a single late penalty.
Lebrun had won her first two fights thanks to single penalties against
Uta Kuehnen of Germany and Catarina Rodrigues of Portugal. In her
semi-final she faced the 21-year-old Cuban, Yurisel Laborde, who was
a surprise winner against Britain's Michelle Rogers in the first round.
Lebrun and Laborde exchanged penalties and the scores remained level
until the final few seconds. Lebrun tried to win it and Laborde countered
her for Yuko. With only a few seconds left, Lebrun still went for
broke and with six seconds remaining it almost paid off. She couldn't
quite get enough rotation from a Tsuri-goshi attack, though, and once
again her dream of world gold was to fade.
Laborde's previous best result was a bronze at the Junior World championships
three years ago and a final against the world champion proved one
step too far. Laborde gave a good account of herself, but Anno's experience
told and she attacked at just the right time towards the end of the
bout to win by a single penalty score.
Lebrun bounced back emphatically and easily disposed of Zwiers for
bronze, pinning her with Yoko-shiho-gatame. The other beaten semi-finalist,
Lee, also prevailed in her bronze fight, narrowly beating Kuehnen
on a split judges decision. The decisive flag even took a split second
longer to be raised, pre-empting howls of derision from the partisan
Men's under 100kg
As ever, this was always going to be about Japan's Kosei Inoue. On
this occasion, however, questions had been posed about his invincibility
after a defeat at the hands of Anatol Kovacs of Hungary in the Millennium
Cup in March. At just 23 years of age, Inoue was already the reigning
World and Olympic champion. But despite his undoubted aura, he was
convincingly beaten by his nemesis, Kovacs, earlier this year in Budapest
and had also lost in their only previous meeting in 1999.
Inoue was given several unlikely tests on his way through the draw
and was asked many questions, but he responded brilliantly. Elco van
der Geest was like a rabbit cayght in headlights and lasted 37 seconds
before a brilliant Uchi-mata planted him firmly on his back. But Martin
Padar of Estonia caused Inoue all sorts of problems by continually
frustrating his preferred grip. For four minutes Inoue toiled to get
his favoured grip to no avail and then suddenly he switched his line
of attack and spun under Padar to score Yuko with Seoi-nage. Having
defended against Uchi-mata so effectively, Padar suddenly had a new
problem to contend with and he cracked. Just a few seconds later he
was emphatically despatched for Ippon with Uchi-mata.
Mario Sabino of Brazil was next up and he too seemed to have sussed
out Inoue's line of attack. Sabino kept his right sleeve well back
and forced his left arm inside Inoue's right. This kept the genial
Japanese star at bay for three and a half minutes until in a flash,
he too felt the full force of Inoue's Uchi-mata. Inoue seemed to learn
his lesson, and in the quarter-final against Askhat Zhitkeyev of Kazakhstan,
the conqueror of former champion, Pavel Nastula of Poland, he never
gave his opponent a chance to try to frustrate him. Inoue faked an
Ouchi-gari attack and then threw the Kazakh for Ippon with O-soto-maki-komi
after just 40 seconds. Then he was faced with Ghislain Lemaire of
France in the semi-final, and once again his opponent had been working
on a defence to his Uchi-mata.
Inoue was penalised twice, early on, and Lemaire appeared to have
the measure of his opponent for three and a half minutes. Inoue seemed
to have no answers to Lemaire's gripping but suddenly, driven possibly
by desperation, Inoue scored Yuko with a scrappy Tani-otoshi style
counter. In front at last, Inoue relaxed and Lemaire tightened up,
and the end was nigh. Just a few seconds later, Inoue dived underneath
the Frenchman and scored Ippon with a drop Ippon-seoi-nage.
Inoue had by far the kindest side of the draw, whereas the other half
was littered with classic match-ups. Olympic silver-medallist, Nicolas
Gill of Canada, faced the European champion, Ariel Zeevi of Israel
in the second round. Gill surprisingly dominated and having forced
three penalties to Zeevi, he finished the bout with Waza-ari form
Tai-otoshi. Gill's reward was a contest against the dangerous Uzbek,
Armen Bagdasarov. Gill was again on fire and threw him for Ippon with
Uchi-mata-sukeshi. His third tough battle came against Iveri Jikurauli
of Georgia but this time he threw it away. Leading throughout, he
became defensive towards the end and a penalty 10 seconds from time
cost him a semi-final berth.
Jikurauli faced Kovacs in the semi-final, after the Hungary had excellent
victories against Sung-ho Jang of South Korea, runner-up two years
ago, and last year's European champion and Olympic bronze-medallist,
Jouri Stepkine of Russia. It was a largely scrappy fight, but Kovacs'
repeated Sumi-gaeshi attempts served him well enough to wrack up several
telling Koka scores. That proved enough to set up a dream final between
the current golden boy and his predecessor.
Kovacs himself was something of a prodigy in 1992 when he swept to
the Olympic title as a 20-year-old and then claimed the world title
a year later. But Kovacs had only faltered to deceive since then,
until the Millennium Cup four months ago.
Inoue had never beaten Kovacs, but he made no mistake this time, overcoming
a nervous start to throw the Hungarian for a perfect score (ippon)
just over two minutes into the contest. Kovacs had thrown Inoue for
Ippon with Uchi-mata-maki-komi in Budapest and clearly though he could
do it again as he launched into that technique with his first attack.
Inoue defended it much better this time but Kovacs still scored Yuko.
He then went for Sumi-gaeshi twice, without success, before Inoue
had even mounted a single attack. But the new prodigy had done his
homework. Some will also point out that he was returning from injury
when Kovacs beat him in Budapest, whereas this time he was in much
better shape. Inoue sent Kovacs sprawling to the canvas with a perfectly-timed
Ouchi-gari, and the nemesis was beaten.
It was the icing on the cake for the team from the land of the rising
sun, which already had gold, silver and bronze medals from the other
three weight categories. It was a good day all round for Asia in fact
and the two bronze medals in the under 100kg also went to Asia. Jang
squeezed past Lemaire by a penalty score and Zhitkeyev scored a late
Ippon against Jikurauli with a counter technique, having trailed throughout
Once again, though, the Japanese are looking very strong and with
four medals out of four on the first day, it looks like they will
once again top the medals table come the end of the weekend.
Ryoko Tamura (JPN)
KYE, Sun-Hui (PRK)
LUPETEY, Yurisleidis (CUB)
VANDECAVEYE, Gella (BEL)
UENO, Masae (JPN)
Noriko Anno (JPN)
YUAN, Hua (CHN)
LEBRUN, Celine (FRA)
LOUNIFI, Anis (TUN)
MIRESMAEILI, Arash (IRI)
MAKAROV, Vitali (RUS)
CHO, In-Chul (KOR)
DEMONTFAUCON, Frederic (FRA)
Kosei Inoue (JPN)
MIKHAYLIN, Alexandre (RUS)
MIKHAYLIN, Alexandre (RUS)