Muju 2017 WC – Day 3: Europe grabs both titles through Russia and Serbia
Europe was the big winner of the day at Muju 2017 WC as Maksim Khramtcov from Russia and Vanja Stankovic from Serbia grabbed the two titles awarded on Monday after clinching the Men’s -74 kg and the Women’s -49 kg divisions respectively. Khramtcov was forced to beat no other than the silver medallist at Chelyabinsk 2015, Nikita Rafalovich (UZB) by 6-3, while Stankovic faced another extremely powerful rival, Panipak Wongpattanakit (THA), bronze medallist in Rio 2016 and reigning world champion in Women’s -46, whom she managed to defeat by 10-5. The bronze medals of the M-74 category were taken by Hajizavareh from Iran, world champion two years ago, and Sarymsakov from Kazakhstan. The lower step of the podium in W-49 was occupied by Yuntao Wenren from China and Kristina Tomic from Croatia.
Men’s -74 kg
1 – Maksim Khramtcov (RUS)
2 – Nikita Rafalovich (UZB)
3 – Masoud Hajizavareh (IRI)
3 – Kairat Sarymsakov (KAZ)
Women’s -49 kg
1 – Vanja Stankovic (SRB)
2 – Panipak Wongpattanakit (THA)
3 – Yuntao Wenren (CHN)
3 – Kristina Tomic (CRO)
Women’s -49 kg
The current Olympic bronze and world champion Panipak Wongpattanakit, proved to be stronger than the Chineses representative, Wenren, in the first Semi-final of the session, grabbing the access to the final by 10-7. Even though the Chinese representative was the first athlete to score taking advantage of a precise punch in the first seconds of the match, the Thai was able to turn the score around trhough a head kick at the end of the first period and stayed up in the fight since then until the end. Another head kick in the second round gave her a 9-2 advantage which was just too much for Wenren, who could only make it to 7 points against the 10 awarded to Wongpattanakit.
Wongpattanakit’s opponent in the final was going to be decided in the second battle of the evening: Vanja Stankovic (SRB) versus Kristina Tomic (CRO), a place which was more deserved by the Serbian, who won the battle by 12-6. While Tomic almost able to score through penalties, Stankovic performed a superb attacking show with her right leg, finding the Croatian’s head in two occasion throughout the match and the chest once. Tomic tried her best in the final moments, but Stankovic was too solid, leaving no significant cracks on her defense.
Men’s -74 kg
The first Men’s clash of the evening session couldn’t even start as the reigning Olympic champion, Masoud Hajizavareh was knocked out during his Quarter-final’s game against the Egyptian Eissa and couldn’t be fit for the fight. That placed Maksim Khramtcov from Russia in the big final without having to waste any energy on the day, which made him even more dangerous.
The second place in the final was decided in the sudden death period for the first time in an evening session on this event and was taken by Nikita Rafalovich (UZB). The Chelyabinsk 2015 silver medallist connected a superb chest right kick in the extra time that was the key to the final. His opponent, Sarymsakov from Kazakhstan, was a rock during the whole fight, and was about to make the final as he led 8-6 with few seconds left, but too much avoiding in the end wasn’t good enogh for him. Both athletes were really close to each other during the whole combat and made the audience enjoy a great Taekwondo fight.
Women’s -49 kg
Vanja Stankovic was the first non-Korean fighter to grab a gold medal in Muju after astonishing everyone at T1 Arena with a great demonstration of defense and calm combined with precise right kicks. The Serbian defeated no other than the reigning -46 kg world champion and Rio 2016 bronze medallist, Panipak Wongpattanakit, by 10-5 after leading the fight from the first round. She found the Thai’s head in the first two minutes and found it again in the final round, something the Asian wasn’t able to do throughou the clash. The only moment in which the match could have changed was when Wongpattanakit connected a head kick with few seconds left, but she did it after holding Stankovic, so even though the Thai coach asked for the video replay, the score did not turn around. The European fighter handled the pressure better than the more experienced athlete, which surprised everyone and gave her a well deserved gold.
Men’s -74 kg
Maksim Khramtcov was the second hero of the day, giving Russia the first gold in the event and the second for Europe on Monday. He got rid no other than Nikita Rafalovich in the big final by 6-3, a fight that was completely dominated by his powerful left leg, which he used both to intimidate the silver medallist in Chelyabinsk during the whole 6 minutes and defend himself from the Uzbekistan player. Both fighters used the first round to study each other (0-0), in the second period, Rafalovich took an early lead thanks to a gam-jeon, but Khramtcov reacted instantly to grab his 2 first points through a left chest kick. He was touched in the same way in the third by Rafalovich, who seemed to take control (2-3), but two more left chest kicks were the proof he deserved the crown (6-2).
Day session: Men’s -68 kg and Women’s -67 kg
Korea (2), with world champion and double Olympic medallit Dae-hoon Lee among them, Turkey, USA, China, Bulgaria, Chinese Taipei and Jordan, thanks to the reigning Olympic champion Ahmad Abghaush, were the seven countries who managed to place athletes into the Semi-finals of the Women’s -67 kg and Men’s -68 kg categories, which will both be resolved during tomorrow’s evening session.
The competitors who will fight for the gold medals on the third day of action will be:
Men’s -68 kg
– Dae-hoon Lee (KOR)
– Vladimir Dalakliev (BUL)
– Yu-jen Huang (TPE)
– Ahmad Abughaush (JOR)
Lee will face Dalakliev for a place in the big final, as the reigning Olympic champion Abughaush and Huang will fight each other for the other spot. The Korean idol showed his power in the division after successfuly defeating Hauihongthong (THA 34-10), Kayirbek (KAZ 39-27), Pontes (BRA 25-7) and Yaghoubi (IRI 15-11) mostly by a consistent point difference, while Dalakliev had to beat Asp (NOR 24-14), Chamalidis (GRE 2-0 by GDP) and Gutierrez (MEX 15-11) to make his way to the Semis. On the other side of the draw, Huang got rid of Trejos (COL 21-7), Ortiz (PER 23-5), and Longobardi (GBR 24-10), while Abughaush left Iqbal (PAK 23-5), Purevjav (MGL 39-8) and Minin (RUST15-10) on his way to certify a medal in the category.
Women’s -67 kg
– Nur Tatar (TUR)
– Jan-di Kim (KOR)
– Paige McPherson (USA)
– Mengyu Zhang (CHN)
Tatar, Rio 2016 bronze medallist and European silver, clearly proved to be a candidate for the gold after beating Mirhosseini (IRI 4-2), Tursunkulova (UZB 20 by GDP) and Jelic (CRO 1-0 by GDP), securing the first medal for Turkey in the event; Kim showed her consistency over Heredia (MEX 17-6), Khan (RUS 14-8) and Azizova (AZE 7-0); McPherson edged Roebben (BEL 20-10), Godel (POL 16-7) and Pagnotta (CAN 12-10); while Zhang’s surprising and extraordinay performance on Monday left Smaili (ALG by Disqualification), no other than the reigning World champion Chia Chia Chuang (TPE 15-5), Titoneli (BRA 12-2) and Lauren Williams (GBR 31-22) behind her.
Tomorrow will be the day for the Semi-finals and Finals of these two divisions and for the beginning of the Women’s -53, +73 kg and Men’s -58 kg categories, which will complete their draw until the Semi-final round.
Pau Aguilar, Muju