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Russian Olympic team announced by Ezio Gamba
26 Jun 2016 10:25
Finally the Russian team announced for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In some weight categories the Russians had a luxury position of various qualified candidates, although we knew who were the most of the names representing the Russian Federation. Only the category for men U81kg the biggest question. The choice was made for Khasan Khalmurzaev over 2012 Olympic Bronze medallist Ivan Nifontov, who was always the favourite judoka.
The development of Khasan Khalmurzaev in this weight division was spectacular. Khalmurzaev had the better results, although he is still young, he won the European title this year defeating 2014 World Champion Avtandili Tchrikishvili. He won the Grand Prix of Havana in 2016 and won the Grand Slam in Baku last year. Still team Manager Ezio Gamba decided to give the trust to Ivan Nifontov, who won the world title at the age of Khalmurzaev now, 22. Also in other countries the international (Olympic) experience was an important reason to make a choice for 2012 Olympians.
Michael Pulyaev was chosen above Kamal Khan-Magomedov U66kg. Pulyaev won silver at the World Championships in 2014 and 2015, Kamal Khan-Magomedov may be the more spectacular judoka of the two, but Pulyaev is the most stable and he is the number three seed in Rio.
U73kg Denis Iartcev had the best results compared to 2012 Olympian Musa Mogushkov who was in the race from the beginning when she switched to this category. Iartcev won silver at the Grand Slam in Paris this year and is seeded for Rio. Iartcev will need to defend Russia’s Olympic title in this category won by Mansur Isaev.
There was no doubt about the category U60kg where Beslan Mudranov is the triple European champion and silver medallist at the 2014 World Championships. This year Mudranov only competed in Düsseldorf where he won bronze. Mudranov is a candidate to take a gold medal for the Russian Federation again, won in 2012 by Arsen Galstyan.
Kirill Denisov is also seeded for Rio. The 28-year old Russian is sensitive for injuries but is the most stable performer at the major tournaments finishing in the World top 5 since 2009. He is the current vice world champion. In London he was close to bronze but finished fifth. He won the European titles in 2013 and 2015.
Interesting was the choice U100kg. Olympic Champion Tagir Khaibulaev was a safe choice and he developed a lot since his Olympic title in London in 2012, but most over outside the tatami. He had all the chances to time his return but impressed at very few occasions. A technician like Khaibulaev is always an Olympic medal candidate. As Adlan Bisultanov didn’t take his chance Khaibulaev is a safe bet. He knows when he must peak. In 2012 Khaibulaev went to London as World Champion, this time he will fight without the golden packpatch for the first time in four years, but with a golden experience.
Heavyweight Renat Saidov was never a doubt. Despite some small injuries he made his target with World bronze in 2014 and gold at the Grand Prix in Havana and recently with a golden test at the European Open in Madrid.
In 2012 Russia had an huge boost of judo by the success of five medals including three Olympic titles. The expectation won’t be so high this time, but pressure won’t be less. The prestige at the Olympic Games is unmatched.
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