This year’s Summer Olympics are truly something special to behold. In 2014, the IOC gave the OK for Kosovo to be able to participate in the Olympics after Kosovo declared independence, despite the major opposition from Serbia – who have been its main opponent since their independence back in 2008 – and they really made sure to leave their mark. This year was Kosovo’s first year to participate in the Olympics and with Majlinda Kelmendi representing them, they managed to take home their first ever medal, and if that wasn’t enough, it was a gold medal!
Womens 52kg Highlights
Majlinda Kelmendi won the gold medal in the women’s Judo 52kg weight class on Sunday by defeating the tough Italian, Odette Giuffrida. Majlinda managed to defeat her semi final opponent Misato Nakamura of Japan to advance in the finals against Odette, who defeated Ma Yingnan of China in her semi final match.
In the final match, Odette went for a foot sweep of sorts when Majlinda countered her with an Uchi Mata and threw Odette on her side, getting herself an early point. The rest of the match was Odette trying to get a grip to throw Majlinda and Majlinda staying away from contact, which of course caused her to get a penalty for delay and refusing to attack which may have even costed her a second penalty, but luckily, in the dying seconds, she managed to convince the ref that she was aggressive enough to not get penalised again.
In the rest of the women’s division, Misato Nakamura managed to win a bronze medal for Japan by defeating a game opponent in Brazil’s Erika Miranda while the other bronze medal went to Russian Natalia Kuziutina who managed to pin her opponet, China’s Ma Yingan, to get the victory.
Men’s 66kg Highlights
Today’s men division was filled with upsets, possibly the biggest one happening in a match between Golan Pollack of Israel, who was coming into this match as the number eight ranked Judoka in the world, going up against a man in Mathews Punza of Zambia, who wasn’t even ranked in the top 20 in the world in the men’s 66kg division. It’s hard to believe that this match would last in just two minutes as the fight hit the ground and Mathews would end up climbing on top of the Israeli, pinning him to get the Ippon to shock the Judo world. Of course, Punza’s lucky run would end in the round of 16, but his victory over Golan Pollack will certainly live on in our memories.
The other big surprise was the 21-year-old Fabio Basile, ranked 29th in his weight class, going on to just dominate the weight class and win the gold medal. He won his first three contests all by Ippon, one of them was an upset against the second ranked Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj of Mongolia. His gold medal match was against South Korean An Baul, who was also on an impressive win streak as well, overcoming one of the favorite fighters and incredibly difficult Japanese Masashi Ebinuma in the golden score to reach the final against Basile. However, Basile would continue his dominance by hitting him an Osoto Gari, or big outside sweep for a ippon to win the gold medal.
The bronze medals went to the favorite Ebinuma and Rishd Sobirov of Uzbekistan. Japan are currently leading in nations for Judo medals, but all of them are in bronze, including Ebinuma, making it four in total. This comes as a surprise as for so long, Japan have dominated their homegrown sport in medals but they have been struggling in recent times with just four years ago in London, where Japan only won one gold medal.