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Tagir Khaibulaev back to Olympic level
1 Nov 2015 17:30
Olympic champion Tagir Khaibulaev took a vital step towards selection for Rio 2016 to defend his title by winning his first Grand Slam title by beating former world champion Lukas Krpalek (CZE). Khaibulaev threw Krpalek, who will be travelling to Japan following the Grand Slam for the third time this year, with an ippon seoi-nage for a score after 59 seconds.
Khaibulaev was chased down by Krpalek who ahead of the event said he’s still working to be in his best physical condition and that there is more to come from him between now and Rio. The Russian was penalised for going out and for a false attack but protected his advantage to win gold for Russia.
In the first semi-final Belgrade European Cup winner Domenico Di Guida (ITA) was held down for 20 seconds by Khaibulaev for ippon. In the second semi-final Krpalek downed Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix bronze medallist Javad Mahjoub (IRI) by two yuko scores including 13 seconds in osaekomi as the Italian escaped but still could not find a route to the final.
The first bronze medal was won by world silver medallist Karl-Richard Frey (GER) who boosted his Rio 2016 ambitions by defeating Mahjoub. Frey thew his opponent with a textbook uchi-mata for a waza-ari score and moved straight into osaekomi for 15 seconds to earn a crucial result after teammate and Olympic bronze medallist Dimitri Peters (GER) was eliminated in the second round. The second bronze medal was won by 22-year-old world bronze medallist Toma Nikiforov (BEL) who defeated surprise contender Di Guida. The Italian had never won a Grand Slam or a Grand Prix medal before today so was already assured of achieving the best result of his career. Nikiforov lifted his opponent up with an uchi-mata but Di Guida fell onto his front to avoid giving away a score. The Italian offered a nicely disguised left-sided ouchi-gari which had Nikiforov off balance but the Belgian turned out. Di Guida received a shido for a false attack before Nikiforov settled the contest by ippon with a rotating ko-soto-gake.
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