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Korean An Baul favourite for Olympic title

28 May 2016 01:45

 IJF Media Department    IJF Media Team / IJF
20150825_Astana_final_AN, Baul (KOR) - PULYAEV, Mikhail (RUS)1077

World champion An Baul (KOR) is also ready to trade his red judogi backpatch for one of the gold variety as he past his latest test with a display of South Korean brilliance. An, 22, has a habit of making a mark on every new stage in his career, having won the World Championships at the first attempt, and now the former junior world champion has won the Masters on his debut at the invite-only event.

An will be targeting a unique hat-trick of debut victories as he approaches his first Olympic Games as one of the favourites. The Asian star was due to face 2015 World Judo Masters bronze medallist Davaadorj Tumurkhuleg (MGL) in the final but the Mongolian hurt his arm in his previous contest against European Games winner Kamal Khan-Magomedov (RUS) who received hansoku-make for a waki-gatame.

The first bronze medal was won by world bronze medallist Golan Pollack (ISR) as Khan-Magomedov could not take his place in the final block due to receiving a direct disqualification in his previous contest. The contest may not have materialised but the value of the result could not be overstated as the improving Pollack looks set for a place in the top eight in the Olympic qualification zone. The second bronze medal went to Qingdao Grand Prix winner Nijat Shikhalizada (AZE) who surpassed beaten semi-finalist Oleinic who was off the pace. Seisenbacher was again in the chair coaching his fighter and achieved the desired outcome as all the impetus was with Shikhalizada who was bright and positive throughout with a variety of attacks including a picturesque yoko-tomoe-nage effort. Neither judoka could break the deadlock but there was still a clear winner in the Azeri who could be highly-dangerous at the Olympics this summer.

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