Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympic Taekwondo Men's 59kg Women's 48kg Qualifiers

Olympic Taekwondo Women’s 49kg and Men’s 58kg- An Outsider’s Perspective

Beijing, China—In an age of full-contact fighting and mixed martial arts, Olympic Taekwondo is proving to be hardly a pushover sport.

In the Women’s 49 Kilogram weight class of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Charlotte Craig of the USA went toe-to-toe against Venezuela’s Dalia Contreras Rivero. They came out throwing right-leg roundhouse kicks in the blink of an eye. Venezuela landed a high kick like something out of Soul Calibur 4 that almost took Craig’s nose off. She then went for another roundhouse, missed, and turned it into a spinning back kick. When do you see cool stuff like this in MMA? One last roundhouse by Venezuela won her the match over Craig by a score of 3-2.

The second match saw Buttree Puedpong of Thailand fighting Thi Ngoc Truc Tran of Viet Nam. Thai’s are famous for their kicking prowess, and Thailand certainly brought it with a stinging exchange of low kicks that threw a point on the board for the country that kicks tires. She then threw a high snap kick that I thought landed in Viet Nam’s throat! The first round ended with me rubbing my collar bone.

Third round, Thailand came out with a flying side kick that narrowly missed. I remember in Muay Thai we used to call that kick the “Almighty Boot.” The match went onto sudden death and Viet Nam came out with what sure looked like a flying knee to me. This is TKD and not some other more famous kicking martial art involving knees and elbows right? A last roundhouse by Thailand won the match.

In the Men’s 58kg class, Mexico’s Guillermo Perez faced Afghanistan’s Rouhulla Nikpai as chants of “MEHICO! MEHICO!” echoed from the stands. Perez hardly came out like a Mexican Jumping Bean while Nikpai squatted down into a modified horse stance, defending. Suddenly, both fighters leapt at the same time and threw one-two kicks at each other like one-two punches in mid-air. As Nikpai leapt in the air, Perez shot out a roundhouse while Nikpai was still airborne, sending him flailing to the mat like some blow-up pool toy. Third round, Nikpai’s high kick landed on Perez’s head while he was still touching him! Can you say flexible? Nikpai then threw a stop kick that landed right on Perez’s hip, sending him to the mat with a charlie-horse. When Perez came back, he came back with a vengeance, kicking Nikpai literally out of the air, catching his high kick with his hand and kicking him off his feet again. One more right leg roundhouse by Perez and it was all over. Victory was handed to an unlikely contender, Mexico.

Generation O (O for Octagon) is indeed a new breed of athlete and fighter, but fighters and athletes from other disciplines like Olympic Taekwondo have proven that they are worthy of respect as elite athletes. Olympic Judo has made the switch to the full-contact arena, I am confident that Olympic Taekwondo can and has to a certain degree. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is currently trying to make the switch backwards to sanction itself as an Olympic sport, but I’m sure that scenario would turn out something like Olympic Softball, we all know which country would take home all the medals.

Catch the rest of the action live on or check my blog for the latest updates at

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling 84k/96k Finals

Beijing, China—Andrea Minguzzi of Italy took a few deep breaths and smiled as he stepped up to the podium to receive his Olympic gold medal. Victory gleamed in his eyes as he put his arm around the Chinese escort girl and kissed her on cheek in front of swarms of cameras. Suddenly, Ara Abrahamian of Sweden snatched his Bronze medal from around his own neck, threw it down in the center of the ring, and stormed out of the arena.

The 84 Kilo Bronze Medal Freestyle Wrestling bout of the 2008 Olympics saw Melonin Noumonvi of France face off with Ara Abrahamian of Sweden. Off the whistle, France jockeyed for underhooks and tried to create space for a hip-toss, but Sweden pushed him out of bounds. Sweden went down and France struggled to lift him over for a point. The second period saw little action as Sweden went down and defended for thirty seconds to win the Bronze Medal by points. France refused to shake Sweden's hand.

The United State's Adam Wheeler stepped up to the mat on a mission to fight Korea's Tae-Young Han for the Bronze Medal in the 96 Kilo match. Adam pushed his opponent around, man-handling him relentlessly on his feet. When Korea went down, Adam attempted to turn him from a high chest-lock instead of a gut-wrench, which Korea took advantage of by spinning and ending up on top of him. Then Adam went down and Korea attempted a turn from the gut-wrench, but Adam slipped out of it and ended up on top for near-fall as well. "USA! USA!” cheered fans as Adam Wheeler became the only American to medal in Greco-Roman Wrestling, and in his first Olympics nonetheless!

For the 84 Kilo Gold Medal, Hungary's Zoltan Fodor went toe-to-toe with Andrea Minguzzi of Italy. Right off the bat, Italy went after an arm-drag, while an aggressive Hungary shucked him by. Italy went down and pretty much scooted out of bounds, no points were awarded. Then Hungary went down while Italy smacked him against the mat repeatedly attempting for a lift. A bit of unnecessary roughness maybe seeing as Hungary only scooted out of bounds as well. The score remained tied at 1-1 in the first period.

Second period, Italy worked a gut-wrench on the mat attempting a lift unsuccessfully, while Hungary leapt out from under him, only to be pounced on again by Italy. Still no points awarded. They slapped hands into the third period.

Jockeying for hand control and underhooks, they stood shoulder to shoulder with little activity until Italy went down. Taking Hungary's strategy, Italy leapt up from bottom and scrambled back to neutral. Hungary went down and Italy exploded into an amazing back-suplex sending Hungary's feet flying in a wide arc over his head! Italy jumped up and down as the ref raised his hand, and both wrestlers hugged in a gesture of good sportsmanship.

After his grueling match, Andrea Minguzzi of Italy flew into a back flip and took a victory lap around the mats to his countrymen singing his national anthem, holding his flag above him like a flying badge of honor as he ran. Though exhausted and sweating buckets, the look of joy and relief on his face was amazing. This was his moment in the spotlight, he was a star, and as he jumped onto the railings to shake the Chinese audience members' hands, I thought of how cool it must have been to be there in person to see him become an Olympic Champion.

Live coverage of Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling continues on Previous results are posted on my blog at

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Judo Men's 81Kilo and Women's 63kilo Finals

Olympic Judo Men's 81Kg and Women's 63Kg Finals

Beijing, China—When the bell sounded, ending the Gold Medal match of the Men’s 81 Kilo Judo competiton, Ole Bischoff of Germany and Kim Jaebum of South Korea were both flat on the mat with their hands over their faces. One was smiling, the other cringing. As they stood and fixed their gi’s, the referee declared the winner, and decided that it was Ole Bischoff of Germany who was smiling.

Olympic Judo of the 2008 Beijing Games commenced this morning with American Travis Stevens making his debut against Tiago Camilo of Brazil. Off the bat, Stevens got right up in Camilo’s face, exactly the way to handle a traditional fighter. Stevens dropped for a seoi nage that Camilo stepped over, while Stevens ended up standing behind him. They started kazushi-jacking each other, trying to load each other up on their hips. Stevens swept Camilo while Camilo used the momentum to pull him to the side and end up on top of him. A big uchi-mata by Camilo wasn’t quite enough for an ippon, but it was enough to send the American Travis Stevens home without a medal.

The Japanese dominated in the Women’s 63kg Gold Medal bout, with Ayumi Tanimoto mopping the mat with France’s Lucie Decosse. At first, Decosse was solid, not letting Ayumi man-handle her, tripping her with a footstop. That pissed Ayumi off and she tripped Decosse with the same footstop, it was all fight from there on out. Decosse threw her leg out for an osoto-gari leg sweep, while Ayumi spun around and turned it into an amazing uchi-mata that sent Decosse’s feet in a rainbow arc over the mats and planted her there, where she sat stunned as the crowd went wild for Ayumi. Aiko Sato of Japan had fangirls cheering for her in the stands, Ayumi had an army of fanboys chanting her name and even a Japanese television stations staged to interview her post fight.

Tiago Camilo came back to face Guilluame Elmont of the Netherlands. Camilo came out with an ankle pick that slammed Elmont to the mat. I’m impressed with the judoka in that even a simple wrestling move like an ankle pick can end in a slam. Back in neutral, Elmont tried for an inside leg sweep that sent Camilo flying out of bounds. Elmont then tried for a seoi nage, big mistake as Camilo stepped over and spun into an armbar that had Elmont hugging his arms for dear life. Camilo then showed his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills as he transitioned to full-mount, cinched his arm underneath Elmont’s head, grabbed his gi sleeve and threw his other arm over Elmont’s neck for an Ezekiel Choke! Tiago Camilo of Brazil became the Bronze Medal winner with the first tap of the Beijing Olympics.

The crowd got quiet as Ole Bischoff and Kim Jaebum faced off in the finals. Bischoff immediately footswept Jaebum and swiveled around him like a wrestler, hopping to the side and attempting to pull him over for a guard sweep. Jaebum controlled the mat but Bischoff controlled the kazushi, every scramble was a setup for a throw. Bischoff hooked a leg inside Jaebum’s for a big trip and pulled him into guard, finally getting that guard sweep. The bell rang, ending the match, and declaring Ole Bischoff Olympic Champion.

Olympic Judo streams live at 12:00am tonight on Yesterday's competition results are posted on my blog at

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic Judo Women’s 56 Kilograms and Men’s 73 Kilograms- Day 3

Beijing, China—Day 3 of Olympic Judo in the Women’s 56 Kilo and Men’s 73 Kilo is underway.

First up in the Women’s 56Kilo Quarterfinals was Yurisleydis Lupety of Cuba vs. Jean Baptiste of Haiti. This match was literally bad blood as an ankle pick by Cuba sent Haiti careening head-first into the mat and bleeding tributaries. Cuba won the bout with an awesome double-leg lift which makes me think there is more wrestling in judo than there is in wrestling. There was also an incident involving an ippon-seoi nage shoulder throw and a flying referee’s chair.

Next bout in the 73Kilo Men’s Category was Erik Kibanza of the Democratic Republic of Congo facing Rasul Boquiev of Turkmenistan. If the last Women’s bout was Wrestling, this was Gymnastics. Boquiev dropped down for a circle throw and Kibanza completely cart-wheeled over it not just once, but twice on two circle throw attempts! Boquiev came back to win the match with an insane ippon-seoi nage into side-control and pin.

The Australians were downright angry judoka. Both Dennis Iverson and Maria Pekli came out aggressive like someone had just kicked over their brand new motorcycles and they’re coming to kill them (no one touches my Yamaha). Pekli came and just shucked Bernadette Baczko of Hungary out of bounds. Forget about tie-ups, she was throwing kicks like a Muay Thai fighter, somehow passing them off as footsweep attempts. Pekli, by sheer aggressiveness won by a shido, maybe they were just afraid she would go kill someone if she lost. Iverson’s temper on the other hand didn’t help him in the least bit as he pressured and punked Sezer Huysuz of Turkey around. Sezer waited for a failed drop shoulder throw by Iverson to take his back, pick him up like a freestyle wrestler, turn him like he was his bitch, and pin him with a scarf hold. Temper, temper.

Rinat Ibragimov of Kazakisan landed a beautiful sacrifice circle-throw on Korean Champion Wang Kichum, but Wang is the Prince of Persia. He stopped time already at 120 degrees into an ippon and practically rewound it, spinning off his head completely back over Kazaskistan to side-mount him.

Brazilian Leandre Guilheiro lived up to the legend and the stereotype of the Brazilian groundwork, pulling guard whenever he could, grabbing collars instead of sleeves, doing the cart-wheel guard pass on his head to flip out of sacrifice throws and sweeps. Mariano Daniel Bertolotti of Argentina was not happy after his bout with Leandre.

The match of the afternoon however was Aiko Sato of Japan vs. Xu Yan of China (ooooohh!). Japan and China generally hate each other as a rule and there was no exception here, they looked like they were ready to kill each other and China looked like she was going to eat souls. Fan girls in the stands chanted “AI-KO, AI-KO” as Aiko Sato showed her Judo finesse. Xu’s Judo was brutal, but Aiko’s was beautiful, she was quick and fluid and moved like water. She’d slip a throw and slide right into another one, pop to her feet and try it again, never letting up, but she’d just bounce into them like it was the most natural thing in the world. She missed a shoulder throw on Xu and turned it into a creative single leg snatch takedown. Her Judo was calligraphy. So it was a surprise to fans and audience when Xu Yan of China was awarded the victory for playing it safe, even the commentators agreed that the wrong athlete won the match and there were boo’s from the crowd. Aiko came back to pin Nina Koivumaki of finland, but was seriously injured by Ketleyn Quadros of Brazil and had to be carried out of the arena on a spine board.

Xu Yan went on to win the Bronze Medal in the Women’s 56 Kilogram Weight class.

For more live feeds of Olympic Judo, log onto If you are not a cable subscriber, lie and say you are because the live-feeds will not play if you specify local broadcast. Replays of matches are available in the results section for a limited amount of time. Thank you for reading and I will be covering the remaining Judo and Wrestling competitions for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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