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Glory for Odbayar Ganbaatar as Mongolia mounts fightback on day two
11 Mar 2017 15:10
World Judo Masters silver medallist Ganbaatar Odbayar of Mongolia captured Grand Slam gold for the first time as he bested double world champion and London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Nakaya Riki of Japan
Nakaya, who at 27 has a world of experience and is one of the most decorated judoka in the competition, has fallen behind Olympic champion Ono Shohei (JPN) and World Judo Masters and Paris Grand Slam winner Hashimoto Soichi (JPN) in the pecking order and thus starts have been infrequent on the IJF World Judo Tour.
World number nine Ganbaatar finally converted his opportunities into IJF gold on the elite stage as he countered a reverse seoi-nage with te-waza for a waza-ari and that provided enough for gold as Nakaya could not find a way onto the scoreboard before the four minutes elapsed. While the future of Nakaya is now questioned Ganbaatar could become a mainstay on IJF World Judo Tour podiums.
In the first semi-final Nakaya faced Ungvari Miklos (HUN) in a battle between London 2012 Olympic silver medallists. Evergreen Ungvari, 36, who won his Olympic medal at -66kg, was thrown with a tomoe-nage after 90 seconds of golden score for a waza-ari and Nakaya progressed into the final.
In the second semi-final Shavdatuashvili (GEO) committed a costly mistake against Ganbaatar as he received three shidos to be disqualified. The Georgian started slowly and never recovered as he was penalised for passivity for this third shido and was relegated to the bronze medal contest as his Mongolian adversary marched on into the final.
The first bronze medal contest saw Rustam Orujov (AZE) survive a high-pressure situation against Shavdatuashvili. Number one seed Orujov should be accustomed to it but he also had a first-class opponent in front of him and the prospect of his teammate also medalling at -73kg on his mind. The weight of expectancy was visible on his face in the warm-up area before he composed himself for the final block. After a fascinating four minutes, chants of ‘Rustam, Rustam’ rang out in the crowd and their man got there in the end after two minutes of golden score by turning his Georgian rival for a match-winning waza-ari. Orujov raised his hand aloft to acknowledge the crowd’s support and tapped the Azerbaijan flag on his judogi to show his pride.
The second bronze medal went to Ungvari after a thrilling contest against Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist Hidayat Heydarov (AZE). There was a 17-year age gap between the two as the 36-year-old Hungarian challenged the 19-year-old Azeri at home and tested the mettle of the teenager. Heydarov gave everything and looked on course for victory as he led with a waza-ari but Ungvari is a wily veteran and with 21 seconds left he turned over the youngster and tapped him out in a showing of craft and determination. Ungvari became the third oldest Grand Slam medallist of all time behind Yamamoto Sayuri (39) and Valentin Grekov (37) and there is still much to come from the Hungarian stalwart who is working towards the World Championships in Budapest.
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Febe De Leenheer (BEL)