Although there were no French fighters amongst the favorites to vie for the gold medal in this category, the -90kg event was as crowd favorite as there were many big throwers in the contest.
Amongst them: World and Olympic Champion Ilias Iliadis of Greece, former World Champion Tiago Camilo of Brazil and former World Champion Lee Kyu-Won of South Korea. Both the Japanese fighters Takashi Ono and Daiki Nishiyama were big throwers as well.
In a championship that has thus far featured a lot of drop-down techniques and matches won by penalties, the crowd was naturally yearning to see some big throws — and they were not disappointed.
Iliadis had some difficulty with the experienced Polish fighter, Robert Krawczyk, who took him to full time but lost by a yuko. After that, it was a smooth ride to the top of Pool A for Iliadis who won every match by big throws and ippon scores, to the delight of the audience.
South Korea’s Lee was expected to top Pool B but he got caught by a Russia’s Kirill Denisov‘s powerful kosoto-gake for ippon in the quarter-final. Japan’s Ono and Nishiyama topped Pools C and D respectively.
Iliadis continued to thrill the crowd in his semi-final bout, throwing Denisov with a massive ura-nage that looked like it could’ve come out of a Greco-Roman wrestling match. The other semi-final was less interesting because the two Japanese fighters obviously knew each other’s styles too well. In the end, the match was won by penalties with Ono incurring one more shido than Nishiyama.
Bronze Medal Matches
The bronze medal match between Japan’s Ono and Korea’s Lee was one worthy of a final. Both men were big throwers and both fought hard to salvage their country’s pride. The Korean threw Ono with a reverse seoi-nage into kuchiki-daoshi combination that caught the Japanese completely offguard. With a waza-ari scored and only about a minute left in the match, it seemed like Lee was on his way to win a bronze for Korea when Ono came in with his trademark uchimata that spun the Lee flat on his back. Both men looked stunned at the sudden reversal of fortune.
The other bronze medal match, between Russia’s Denisov and Cuba’s Asley Gonzalez was less exciting as both men were tentative in their attacks. After Gonzales received a shido for not attacking, Denisov seemed content to play the gripping game. He probably felt confident that he could make his opponent look passive, incur another shido and thus allow him to win by a yuko. Shortly after the match went into Golden Score, the Cuban fighter came in with a very low morote-seoi-nage that threw the Russian on his side. Yuko was scored and that was enough to win Gonzalez the bronze.
The final was as virtual repeat of the 2010 Tokyo World Championships, right down to the throw that won the match. Just as in Tokyo, Nishiyama tried to create some space to come in with uchimata while Iliadis kept pulling him in tightly to tie him up.
This fierce exchange of grips went on for a while before Iliadis began to dominate by pulling Nishiyama’s head down. The Japanese was in danger of being given a penalty when Iliadis came in with his famous hip throw and just like in Tokyo, he slammed Nishiyama flat on his back for ippon.
ILIADIS, Ilias (GRE) vs. NISHIYAMA, Daiki (JPN)
ILIADIS, Ilias (GRE) vs. DENISOV, Kirill (RUS)
ONO, Takashi (JPN) vs. NISHIYAMA, Daiki (JPN)
Bronze Medal Fights
LEE, Kyu-Won (KOR) vs. ONO, Takashi (JPN)
GONZALEZ, Asley (CUB) vs. DENISOV, Kirill (RUS)
PESSANHA, Hugo (BRA) vs. LEE, Kyu-Won (KOR)
GREKOV, Valentyn (UKR) vs. GONZALEZ, Asley (CUB)
1. ILIADIS, Ilias (GRE)
2. NISHIYAMA, Daiki (JPN)
3. ONO, Takashi (JPN)
3. GONZALEZ, Asley (CUB)
5. LEE, Kyu-Won (KOR)
5. DENISOV, Kirill (RUS)
7. PESSANHA, Hugo (BRA)
7. GREKOV, Valentyn (UKR)