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

Day 3: 28 July, 2001

By: Barnaby Chesterman

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

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Women's under 57kg

The reigning world champion, Driulis Gonzalez of Cuba was pregnant so could not defend her title in Munich. But her understudy, the 20-year-old World Junior champion, Yourisledes Lupety, more than made up for the great champion's absence with an energetic performance, full of spirit and dynamism.

Lupety took little time to announce herself on the senior ranks and quickly dispatched her first two opponents within the time limit. Her first real test came in the quarter-final against Kyung Soon Min of South Korea. She struggled to find a big throw and in the end was happy to settle for a victory by Yuko. That set up a semi-final meeting with the Olympic champion, Isabel Fernandez of Spain.

The rugged Spaniard qualified easily for the last four but the young Cuban was not fazed by either her reputation or aggression. Fernandez's style can at best be described as ugly, while the Cuban women are usually not far behind. But Lupety's youthful zest brings a spark to the Cuban style and she deservedly won a unanimous decision after a scoreless encounter. Fernandez typically did not put in a worthwhile attack and concentrated on trying to make her opponent look passive. But Lupety's attacks carried more punch and she moved into the final.

Kie Kusakabe of Japan, a bronze medallist from Sydney, had looked the likely finalist scoring two good Ippon victories with O-soto-gari. But she came unstuck in the semi-final against Deborah Gravenstijn of the Netherlands. Kusakabe struggled to cope with Gravenstijn's strong gripping and after a minute and a half was thrown for Ippon with a drop Seoi-nage.

Gravenstijn seemed over the moon to be in the final, as did the Cuban and they brought a refreshing enthusiasm to the under 57kg final which has been dominated by Fernandez and Gonzalez in recent years. Gravenstijn was totally outfought on thios occasion as Lupety's greater class showed. She won it with a drop Seoi-nage for Waza-ari, but at the end both fighters seemed equally delighted. Lupety, shaded the celebrations, though, bounding off the mat into the arms of coach Ronaldo Veitia Valdivie. And in a show of national pride, she dedicated her victory to her country.

Kusakabe took some time to recover from her defeat and started sluggishly in the bronze medal bout against China's Yuhua Xu. She was twice caught for low scores before she managed to rediscover her form. But once she did, the fight was a mere formality. Kusakabe scored Waza-ari with O-soto-gari and almost pinned Xu, but the Chinese escaped. Her reprieve didn't last long, however, and she was quickly thrown for Ippon with another O-soto-gari. Kusakabe could not hold back tears afterwards, although they were not tears of joy. "I am deeply disappointed that I missed the opportunity to become World champion," she said through the tears. "I'm really very, very disappointed."

Fernandez won the other bronze medal in a travesty of justice against Cinzia Cavazutti of Italy. The Spaniard's rugged pulling and dragging tactics somehow convinced two referees that she deserved the decision over Cavazutti's classical attacks. It was particularly hard luck on the Italian who was robbed of an Olympic bronze last year by another contentious decision against Maria Pekli. Ths time however, the referees weren't swayed by the home crowd. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the crowd made its displeasure very obvious after the fight by booing the referees as they left the mat.

Men's under 73kg

With the World champion, Jimmy Pedro of the USA now retired and Olympic champion Guisepe Maddaloni of Italy absent, this was a very open category. Several medal contenders fell early, such as World bronze-medallist, Sebastian Perreira of Brazil and the two Olympic bronze-medallists.

That opened the way for an impressive return to form for Vitali Makarov of Russia. He was a huge disappointment in the Olympic Games last year after winning silver in the World championships two years ago. But his left-sided Uchi-mata was working effectively and he swept into a quarter-final meeting with the dynamic Peruvian, German Velazco. He had already thrilled the crowd with a couple of big Ippon scores, including a full height Kata-guruma against Richard Leon of Venezuela after only 18 seconds.

Velazco started brightly and the Russian did well to survive a couple of huge early attacks. But Makarov weathered the storm, and then used all his experience to dump the Peruvian for Ippon half way through the scheduled five-minute contest.

That set up a semi-final against the impressive Polish fighter, Kryzsztof Wilkomirski. Makarov was always in control, though, and had the Pole on the defensive throughout. Makarov scored Waza-ari with a lovely Uki-goshi throw and then moved into the final when Wilkomirski picked up Keikoku for passivity. On the other side of the draw, the new Japanese fighter was causing quite a stir. Yusuke Kanamaru, a 21-year-old who won silver at the East Asian Games, was flattening opponents all over the place with his huge Sode-tsuri-komi-goshi throws. In the semi-final against Sung Ho Min of South Korea, he took just 33 seconds to dump him for Waza-ari twice with the same technique and move into the World championship final at his first attempt.

It was a match-up between the experienced Makarov and the exuberant Kanamaru, and it left the crowd breathless. The two held nothing back in search of a winning throw and risked everything for victory. Kanamaru seemed to tire first and took a long time to peel himself off the mat after each clinch that ended up on the ground. Makarov was not far behind but could afford to sit back after scoring Yuko twice without reply. Kanamaru was fearless, though, and continued to go for the big Sode-tsuri-komi-goshi attacks. Eventually it cost him as he simply ran out of energy and Makarov threw him for Ippon with his favoured Uchi-mata.

The two fighters received a standing ovation as they left the mat and both looked pleased with their results. Askhat Shakharov of Kazakstan was another who was delighted after fighting through the repechage to win bronze. He threw Min for Ippon after a minute and a half and then danced around the mat before leaping into his coaches arms, before he had even bowed off. "This feels simply great," he said. "I never expected to win bronze and I'm speechless. I will celebrate this a lot." Wilkomirski completed the set of happy fighters by winning the other bronze medal against Andrey Shturbabin of Uzbekistan.

Women's under 52kg

Legna Verdecia, the Olympic champion from last year was the favourite to win the title as the reigning champion Noriko Narasaki hasn't been seen fighting since her defeat in the Olympic final last year. The Cuban was unconvincing, though, as she stuttered into the quarter-finals. There she faced an inspired Rafaella Imbriani of Germany and a partisan home crowd. Verdecia was the better fighter throughout but constant whistling from the crowd helped the referees to penalise the Cuban for dropping. Crucially she received a third penalty with seconds remaining to hand the fight to the German, although Verdecia had good reason to feel a little aggrieved by the crowd's role in the contest.

Imbriani was fortunate again in the semi-final where she was often on the back foot but benefited form another penalty victory against Salima Sdouakri of Algeria who was bidding to win her country's first World Championship medal and the first by any African woman. It wasn't to be, though, and the German moved into the final.

There she faced the class competitor in the top half of the draw, Sun-Hui Kye of North Korea. It is five years since an unknown 16-year-old shocked Ryoko Tamura and the Judo world in the Olympic final in Atlanta, but since that glorious day, Kye had not managed to win another world or Olympic title. She stepped up to under 52kg but was always a minor medallist.

This time, though, she was looking very strong and had no difficulties in moving past some of the favourites into the semi-final. Georgina Singleton of Great Britain, Ioana Dinea of Romania and Marie-Claire Restoux of France were all beaten convincingly before the Korean faced the new Japanese fighter, Yuki Yokosawa. She put up a better fight but never looked like beating Kye who scored Yuko twice to advance into the final.

Kye was not going to be intimidated by the crowd and try as they did, they could not lift Imbriani to victory. Kye's strong high left-hand grip caused the German many problems as it had her other opponents throughout the day. Kye scored Waza-ari with a left Uchi-mata and that was enough to finally ad the world title to her Olympic gold. Imbriani was delighted with her silver medal, though, and paid tribute to the crowd for its support.

Soukari just missed out on the bronze when poor refereeing cost her against Yuxiang Liu of China. The Algerian was much the more attacking throughout but lost by Koka. Liu managed to escape punishment for a defensive display and the unlucky Souakri missed out on making history. Verdecia was an unpopular winner of the other bronze as she won a unanimous decision against Yokosawa. The crowd was particularly unhappy at the outcome, which was important for another reason. Up until then both the Cuban and Japanese women's teams had perfect medal records, winning a medal in every weight category. Bt one of them would have to lose that record and it was Japan.

Men's under 66kg

The biggest shock of the day came in the first contest as the reigning world champion, Larbi Benboudaoud of France was spectacularly thrown for Ippon by Aidiyn Smagulov of Kyrgyzstan. Benboudaoud looked in control of the fight although his smaller opponent never seemed worried by the Frenchman's awkward gripping. Then out of the blue he spun underneath Benboudaoud and turned him onto his back with Kata-guruma. Smagulov, who won Olympic bronze at under 60kg last year, then suffered a bad defeat against Juan Jacinto of Dominican Repubic as the surprises rained down.

The Olympic champion, Huseyin Ozkan of Turkey was another casualty, beaten narrowly by Yordanis Arencibia of Cuba. Arencibia was far from his spectacular best, but fought sensibly to make the semi-final, against Musa Nastuyev of Ukraine who had knocked out the former world champion, Yukimasa Nakamura of Japan. Arencibia was looking the most likely winner, but he was caught cold by Nastuyev after just 16 seconds and thrown brilliantly for Ippon with Ashi-guruma.

On the other side Jacinto came within four seconds of a place in the quarter-finals but then seemed to stumble over a desperate last attack from Arashi Miresmaeli of Iran, to lose agonisingly by Ippon. That was a huge let off for the Iranian who made the most of it to win through to the final with an excellent semi-final victory over Islam Matsiev of Russia. Miresmaeli, just 20-years-old, kissed the tatame after his victory as he was guaranteed Iran's best ever result.

The final was fairly unspectacular compared to the fireworks in the under 73kg final, but Miresmaeli lit up the stadium half way through with a brilliant Ippon. He picked up his opponent with a huge Te-guruma to smash him into the mat and take the gold. Miresmaeli has come on a long way since his fifth place at the Olympics last year and also won the Asian championship earlier in the year in Mongolia.

Arencibia recovered to edge out another Algerian bidding to be his country's first world medallist in the bronze medal fight. It was level until the final minute when the Cuban score a couple of time decisive Yukos. It was Cuba's first medal in the men's categories and Arencibia emulated his performance of two years ago. He burst into tears at the end but insisted, "No-one should be mislead by my tears. I'm not crying because I am disappointed, but for joy."

Korea's Hyung Ju Kim took the other bronze medal with a unanimous decision against Matsiev. It was far from an inspiring battle, but the referees at least got the outcome right this time.



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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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