Artes Marciales

Harrison double Olympic champion;Krpalek sets the example


-78kg: American great HARRISON becomes a double Olympic champion

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.



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)


-100kg: Czech Republic flagbearer KRPALEK leads the way for his country

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.



Bronze Medal Fights
MARET, Cyrille (FRA) vs FREY, Karl-Richard (GER)
BLOSHENKO, Artem (UKR) vs HAGA, Ryunosuke (JPN)


KRPALEK, Lukas (CZE) vs MARET, Cyrille (FRA)

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