The final for men U90kg was definitely one of the most awaited matches of the final block and it started immediately with a fast rhythm, with a mix of reversed seoi-nage from Trippel and low koshi-guruma from Bekauri. When Lasha Bekauri scored a waza-ari, Trippel knew that it would be difficult to come back. He tried, but the young Georgian managed to keep his distance from the German’s attacks and at the end of a new day of judo, became the new Olympic champion of the men’s -90kg weight division; a new name on top of the world for the next three years.
“This is a special day in my career. I am very happy. I am young, I am just 21 years old, so it is a bit unbelievable for me that at such a young age I became an Olympic champion. This is just the beginning, because I would like to be a four-time Olympic champion. The dream came true, but this is just the beginning. I would like to dedicate the medal to my people, my family, and my country. All the fans too. This gold medal is for my country. Georgia is a small country, but we have really big heroes. This is the biggest success now I realise how happy people are in Georgia. We are a nation of warriors and fighters. It is a fantastic feeling that people in Georgia are happy for me. This is just the beginning.”
He praised his wonder doctor: “Zurab Kakhabrishvili is the best doctor in the world because a month ago in Budapest I badly injured my shoulder and we were scared about Tokyo. Thanks to him today I felt great and I was able to produce my best judo. Now I am Olympic champion. Life is good.”
Eduard Trippel said, “You know I know I can throw but in order to do that I have to be relaxed and enjoy what I’m doing. Everyone was nervous this morning. Not me! I took it as a normal competition and so I enjoyed it a lot. That is why I did good judo and the silver medal is the result of all of that.”
“First I was angry on the postponement of the Games but after that I realised that I had more time to prepare. I did mental training, trained with a psychologist because at this level we are so even that to win a medal you have to be strong with your head. I also did physical training.”
Trippel: “I want to thank my family, and my friends. To my home club trainer also, because he trained me so many times. I want to thank my national coaches. And the police too, because they supported me all the time.”
Bronze for Uzbekistan and Hungary
Mihael Zgank (TUR) was really disappointed. He knew it as soon as he landed on his back that the competition was over and that despite all efforts he won’t go back home with the precious medal. On the other side, Davlat Bobonov (UZB) knew that he had performed the best move possible, with a really low tai-otoshi, sending a wave of happiness through the delegation stands, where the whole Uzbek team was waiting for their first medal. The day was long, but suddenly with moments like that it looked infinitely shorter.
In the second bronze medal contest, with his left-handed kumi-kata, Mikhail Igolnikov (ROC) bothered many of his opponents during the day and Toth (HUN) was no exception. The Hungarian struggled throughout normal and extra-time, but slowly he built something and in a last blast of energy scored a waza-ari to win a well-deserved medal.
Toth: “My family worked a lot together for this. My teammates who work with me every day, it was a great adventure for us. I hope I can give them some experience back to get another medal for my club. Also I dedicate the medal to my country, because we are a really small country, and this is big for us.”
Mikhail Igolnikov (ROC) and Lasha Bekauri (GEO) got away from the rest to enter the semi-final and in the other one the underdogs such as Mihael Zgank (TUR) and Eduard Trippel (GER) survived an awesome elimination game. The reigning world champion, Nikoloz Sherazadishvili (ESP) was strangled in the quarter-finals, Davlat Bobonov (UZB) could not resist Lasha Bekauri, Noel van ‘t End (NED) and Ivan Felipe Silva Morales (CUB) succumbed to the energy of Mihael Zgank (TUR), while Toth Krisztian (HUN) and Nemanja Majdov (SRB) could not reach the last four either.
The first semi-final therefore pitted two favourites, Mikhail Igolnikov (ROC), still able to win a medal for the ROC athletes and Lasha Bekauri (GEO), clearly well recovered from his shoulder injury obtained in Budapest during the Mixed Team World Championships. If we had doubts about that injury, we have the answer, it’s all good. Bekauri qualified for the final, with a single waza-ari that sent Igolnikov in the bronze medal match. Only 21 year old, Bekauri was a junior world champion and now in the position to win the Olympic title.
The other semi-final saw Mihael Zgank (TUR) and Eduard Trippel (GER) face off, with the guarantee that one of the great leaders of the morning would still be present in the final and this was Eduard Trippel, who after another tensed and long golden score period finally scored a waza-ari that was uncertain until it was clearly confirmed by the video.
If several favourites were eliminated during the morning session, we found several of them in the repechage too, including three of the medallists of the last World Championships Hungary 2021.
Double world champion, Nikoloz Sherazadishvili (ESP) had a difficult start with several golden score periods and finally a defeat against the often dangerous opponents, who he admits he has difficulty competing against, Mikhail Igolnikov (ROC). To keep hoping for a medal, the Spaniard faced Davlat Bobonov (UZB), who was one of the last chances of Uzbekistan to reach the podium. It was written that it was not Sherazadishvili’s day as he had to bow out to Bobonov for a spot in the bronze medal contest. Bobonov reacted excited: “This is for my country, for the people who helped me, and my family. Also to my upcoming baby, since I am expecting a child.”
In the second repechage match, 2019 world champion and winner of the World Judo Masters this season, Noel Van ‘t End met Toth Krisztian (HUN), another world medallist, and with a shoulder movement banked a waza-ari that offered him the possibility to win bronze.
It must be noted that, after days of Japanese domination, for the first time since the beginning of the Olympic tournament, there was no Japanese athlete present in the final block for men, since Mukai Shoichiro was eliminated by Toth Krisztian in the early rounds.
Lasha Bekauri is 21 years and two days old on Wednesday and is the sixth youngest Olympic gold medal winner in the men’s division ever.
The two youngest Olympic gold medal winners in the men’s -90kg event have won their gold medals in Japan. At the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964, OKANO Isao (JPN) was 20 years and 275 days old.
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