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The gold backpatch fits as Khasan Khalmurzaev wins at home in Russia
21 May 2017 15:10
Rio 2016 Olympic champion Khasan Khalmurzaev thrilled the partisan crowd as he beat two-time Grand Slam runner-up Ungvari Attila (HUN) in the U81kg final of the Grand Slam in Ekaterinburg. The 23-year-old crowd pleaser punched the air after throwing Ungvari with a uchi-mata for ippon after just 58 seconds.
Russian Khalmurzaev celebrated his second Grand Slam gold after a win in Baku in 2015 but this victory was extra sweet as it was his first IJF competition since he won the Olympics and it came in front of his family, friends and fans. Khalmurzaev is now the front-runner to top the -81kg podium at the World Championships and the gold backpatch will be a target on his back for all entrants in Budapest.
In the first semi-final Paris Grand Slam winner Frank De Wit (NED) was outlasted by Khalmurzaev who threw the young Dutchman with an uchi-mata for a waza-ari score after 12 seconds of golden score.
In the second semi-final Ungvari defeated Antalya Grand Prix bronze medallist Murat Khabachirov (RUS) as the latter ran out of steam in golden score. Ungvari, the younger brother of Hungarian legend Ungvari Miklos, rolled over the Russian after 68 seconds of golden score for a match-winning waza-ari.
The first bronze medal was clinched Pan American Championships bronze medallist Etienne Briand (CAN) who narrowly defeated Khabachirov with a waza-ari score after four minutes from a morote-seoi-nage to open his Grand Slam medal account. Briand said: “Khalmurzaev is the Olympic champion so I was expecting a difficult match. It was tied at the end with two penalties each. I thought I had done most of the attacking and put him at risk a few times. I tried to make him take another penalty by increasing my speed but that ended up backfiring because I made a mediocre attack and took another penalty. That’s how I lost,” explained Briand.
Paris Grand Slam silver medallist Zebeda Rekhviashvili (GEO) won the second bronze medal after a surprisingly one-sided clash against top seed de Wit. Rekhviashvili has the tall order of filling the gap left by former world champion Avtandili Tchrikishvili (GEO) who has moved up to U90kg but is making great strides as he showed here with three waza-ari scores giving him the platform to go on and win by ippon.
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