Edition No. 27. Summer, 2001. Today is
2001 World Judo Championships:

Day 2: 27 July, 2001

By: Barnaby Chesterman

Go to: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

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The second day of the World Judo championships carried on in the same thrilling vein as the previous day with some excellent judo and tremendous excitement in front of the IJF's special guest, new IOC president Dr. Jacques Rogge. Just as the day before, there were some major upsets and a few young stars lit up the tournament. But not to be outdone, there were also some stirring performances from some of judo's traditional challengers.

Women's under 70kg

With the World and Olympic champion, Sibellis Veranes of Cuba, missing from the competition, there were more than a few fighters who probably felt this could be their year. None more so than the beaten finalists in the last two major international tournaments, Ulla Werbrouck of Belgium and Britain's Kate Howey. And for a time it looked like they might just meet in the final.

Howey eased into the last four with a couple of comfortable victories and a hard fought win against the industrious Canadian, Marie Chisholm. She was then tested by Amina Abdellatif of France but was more positive throughout and won a unanimous decision to reach the final for the second time.

Werbrouck was dominant with her Uchi-mata and needed just 60 seconds in each of her first two rounds to bowl over her opponents. Veranes' understudy, Regla Leyen, put up a stern test but lost by a single penalty score in the quarter-final. That pitted Werbrouck against Masae Uneno of Japan, a 20-year-old who is just starting to make a name for herself. Two years ago, as a teenager, she reached a bronze medal fight against Kate Howey, but lasted just five seconds in what could only be described as a rude awakening to medal fights at world championship level.

Last year she was handsomely beaten by Werbrouck in the Olympic first round, despite having won the Asian championship earlier in the year. And this year she was a little fortunate to have got this far as she was 15 seconds from being knocked out by Lea Blavo of Cote d'Ivoire. But this time she performed at the highest level. Everything went to plan at first as Werbrouck scored Yuko with Uchi-mata, but after two minutes Ueno suddenly turned the tie on its head. She caught Werbrouck with a brilliant left Ashi-guruma to leave the Belgian flat on her back and out of the final.

Maeda certainly had a score to settle with Howey in the final, and after just six seconds she had at least improved on there last meeting. On this occasion, however, Howey had just returned from a five-month injury lay-off and was clearly not in her prime condition. Just being in the final was an excellent achievement, but the energy of the 20-year-old Japanese caused her problems. The fight remained even for the first half but then Ueno took control, countering a tiring Howey for Yuko with O-soto-gaeshi. The Briton couldn't recover and had to settle for yet another silver medal. Howey has two Olympic medals, five world championship medals and 10 or 11 European championship medals but only one in that vast collection is a gold medal. Nonetheless, she was pleased with her achievement. "Considering that I couldn't train properly for five months because of a shoulder injury, this is a really good success; more than I could have expected," she said.

Ueno was delighted at having fulfilled a dream and revealed the secret to her success, forty winks. "I was not good in my third fight against Lea Blavo and felt depressed afterwards," she said. "In order to build myself up I simply went to sleep for one hour. This obviously changed my attitude. That's the medal I have dreamt of for many years."

Werbrouck went on to easily take a bronze medal against Cecilia Blanco of Spain. And the young Cuban, Leyen took the other place on the podium, edging out Abdellatif with a unanimous decision.

Men's under 90kg

The reigning World champion, Hidehiko Yoshida of Japan, retired after last year's Olympic Games, in which he badly injured his elbow. The silver medallists from both the last world championship and the Olympics were also missing so the Olympic champion, Mark Huizinga of the Netherlands, was the overwhelming favourite. Huizinga came unstuck, however, in his second contest and was surprisingly caught with an Ashi-waza for Ippon by Khaled Meddah of Algeria.

That opened up the category into and exciting and unpredictable race for gold. Adrian Croitoru of Romania was one of those possible contenders but he was dispatched for Ippon by Yoon Dong-Sik of South Korea in the first round, countered with O-soto-gaeshi in the dying seconds. Yoon carried through his good form all the way to the semi-final but then came unstuck against Frederic Demontfaucon of France.

Demontfaucon had only been back in international competition for a year and a half after two frustrating years out with knee injuries. But the Frenchman is fighting better than ever, and swung the tie in his favour with a Waza-ari score from his favourite Tomoe-nage technique. Despite accumulating Keikoku, and teetering on the edge of disqualification for dropping, he held out to reach the final.

The other side of the draw featured a couple of unlikely semi-finalists with Zurab Zviadauri of Georgia taking on Skander Hachicha of Tunisia. The two were evenly matched and the fight went to a decision which Zviadauri won.

Zviadauri and Demontfaucon fought a close final until the Frenchman scored Yuko with Tomoe-nage. That seemed to swing the tide in his favour and the Georgian appeared to wilt. Demontfaucon took full advantage and finished the contest with an armlock to take his first world title.

Demontfaucon's first victim, Rassoul Salimov of Azerbaijan, came a long way through the repechage to challenge for bronze against Hachicha. The two were evenly matched until the Olympic bronze-medallist and European runner-up, score Ippon with a massive pick-up. Salimov was too happy to elaborate on his feelings but did say, "I'm happy. Bronze - good." He was joined on the podium by Yoon, who beat Amel Mekic of Bosnia-Herzegovina with a stunning Uchi-mata for Ippon.

Women's under 63kg

Once again an Olympic champion was missing from the line-up. Severine Vandenhende of France was badly injured in the European championships in Paris earlier in the year and didn't make the draw. With Sung-Sook Jung now retired and coaching the Korean team, the other two Olympic medallists were the favourites. Shufang Li of China did not last long, however, and was outclassed by another Olympic medallist (in the under 70kg category) from last year, Ylenia Scapin of Italy. Since the retirement of Jenny Gal, Scapin has stepped down from under 70kg and she looks strong at under 63kg.

The other Olympic medallist, Gella Vandecaveye of Belgium was in what seemed to be a much easier draw and had few problems in reaching the semi-final. There she faced the Austrian, Claudi Heill, and the two could barely be separated throughout four minutes of Judo. It went to a decision and to the derision of a strong Austrian contingent in the crowd, Vandecaveye took a split decision to reach her third successive final. Scapin looked to be a likely opponent until she was thrown for Ippon in the quarter-final by another brilliant young Cuban, Anaisis Hernandez. But she didn't make the final either and was out-foxed by Sara Alvarez of Spain in the semi-final.

Alvarez had already gone one better than in the last two World Championships where she won bronze medals, but the 22-year-old had dreams of the top tier. Vandecaveye, however, was eager to win back the title she took in 1993 in Hamilton. Having suffered heartache two years ago and in the Olympic Games last year, Vancaveye was on a mission. She took the fight to the Spaniard and scored Waza-ari with Ashi-waza early on. But that wasn't enough for the Belgian and she continued to press forward. Alarez never got going in her first world final and Vandecaveye finished her off with a drop Seoi-nage for Ippon.

Vandecaveye then revealed that she was once again fighting with an injury. Torn knee ligaments almost put paid to her Olympic participation last year and a back injury before the European championships earlier this year restricted her movement to the extent she could barely walk off the mat after securing a seventh European title. But her latest injury had a touch of farce about it. While cooking dinner a couple of weeks ago, Vandecaveye dropped a kitchen knife on her big toe, severing the tendons. There was nice finishing touch to the victory for the Belgian as her compatriot, IOC president Dr. Jacques Rogge, presented her with the gold medal.

Hernandez added to an excellent performance by the Cuban women by bouncing back to win bronze with a stunning Uchi-mata against Urska Zolnir of Slovenia. That maintained the Cubans record of a medal in every women's division, and with fighters like Verdecia still to come, it would be no surprise if the Cuban women complete a clean sweep. Japan matched that record with Ayumi Tanamoto taking the other bronze medal. She actually strangled Claudi Heill unconscious in doing so, but the Austrian made a swift recovery to the relief of everyone in the stadium.

Men's under 81kg

Incredibly yet another Olympic champion was absent from the line up, but this time it was because Makoto Takimoto was beaten in the Japanese trials. His place was taken by the former World and Olympic champion at under 73kg and under 71kg, Kenzo Nakamura. To unsuccessful years in the lighter division had led Nakamura to step up to under 81kg this season. That move looked to be justified as he took gold in the Paris tournament, and he also started well here.

He stormed through to the semi-finals with some impressive Ippon victories, including a huge Te-guruma to beat Flavio Honorato of Brazil, younger brother of the under 90kg Olympic medallist, Carlos. There he faced the powerful Estonian, Alexsei Budolin, who had blitzed all oppoenents in the European championships two months ago. Budolin was dominant here too and Nakamura was just another victim for the explosive Estonian. The two fought out a gripping battle but Budolin won it with Waza-ari from a powerful Russian-style Uchi-mata, with the lead arm over the near shoulder, gripping the belt. Nakamura had no answer to that and Budolin moved into the final. But despite his victory, Budolin bowed respectfully to the great champion as he shook his hand.

The other semi-final was equally impressive between the last two World Champions, Cho In-Chul of South Korea and reining title-holder, Graeme Randall of Great Britain. Both stormed to the last four in impressive fashion scoring a series of Ippon victories. Randall looked the more determined to hold on to his mantle and attacked most in the semi-final. Cho still looked dangerous but offered little, until 32 seconds form the end. Randall pushed forward, anticipating a decision, and was punished with a lightning Ippon-seoi-nage for Ippon, just when he looked the most likely finalist.

Cho started slowly again in the final and seemed almost scared of Budolin. The Estonian, who's coach was sporting a particularly fetching bandana, pushed for a score but found the Korean quick to take evasive action. Cho was penalised twice, but just as it looked like he would lose, once again he pulled a big throw out of the bag. Cho attacked with Ouchi-gari and then switched to a Khabarelli pick-up to score Ippon and regain the world title.

Cho paid tribute to his Estonian opponent and said he thought Budolin would be champion himself one day. But he put his victory down to good planning, rather than a moment of brilliance. "My strategy was to play it safe at the beginning and wait for my opponent to tire and wait for an opportunity. This plan worked perfectly," he said.

Randal was devstated at losing his title and struggled to raise his level in the fight for bronze. Elkhan Rajabli of Azerbaijan, on the other hand, was eager to make an impact on world judo himself, and was far from overawed by his opponent. Rajabli managed a couple of low scores but that proved enough to win bronze. Ironically, Randall's first victim, Sergui Aschwanden, bounced back from his crushing defeat to the Briton, to take the other bronze medal. Aschwanden was electric in throwing Nakamura for Ippon a peculiar O-goshi variation, before embarking on a lap of honour. In fact none of the medallists matched Aschwanden's celebrations and the young Swiss fighter was on such a high he almost took off right out of the stadium. He dedicated his medal to his coach, saying, "I love Leo Held, my coach. This is a super day, it's really great."

At the end of the second day, the Japanese still lead the way in the medal table with three gold, a silver and two bronze. Five other nations have a single gold medal each, but surprisingly not Cuba, yet.



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World Championships 2001



Ryoko Tamura (JPN)

KYE, Sun-Hui (PRK)

LUPETEY, Yurisleidis (CUB)


UENO, Masae (JPN)


Noriko Anno (JPN)


LEBRUN, Celine (FRA)





CHO, In-Chul (KOR)


Kosei Inoue (JPN)

MIKHAYLIN, Alexandre (RUS)

MIKHAYLIN, Alexandre (RUS)

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