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Muju 2017 WC – Day 6: Niger gets first ever gold as Serbia takes 2nd title and Germany wins 1st

Muju 2017 WC – Day 6: Niger gets first ever gold as Serbia takes 2nd title and Germany wins 1st

Niger won its first ever gold medal at the World Taekwondo Championships thanks to Abdoul Issoufou’s superb performance in the Men’s +87 kg division. Germany grabbed it first title in the event through Alexander Bachmann’s victory in the Men’s -87 kg category, while Serbia took its second gold as Milica Mandic proved to be the strongest in Women’s -73 kg. Great Britain, Korea and Russia won the silvers on Thursday, while Mexico, Netherlands, Gabon, Russia, Slovenia and Korea tasted bronze.

Niger Team with Issoufou holding gold

Final Podiums
Men’s -87 kg
1 – Alexander Bachmann (GER)
2 – Vladislav Larin (RUS)
3 – Kyo-don In (KOR)
3 – Ivan Trajkovic (SLO)

Men's -87 kg podium

Men’s +87 kg
1 – Abdoul Issoufou (NIG)
2 – Mahama Cho (GBR)
3 – Roman Kuznetsov (RUS)
3 – Anthony Obame (GAB)

Men's +87 kg podium

Women’s -73 kg
1 – Milica Mandic (SRB)
2 – Hyeri Oh (KOR)
3 – Reshmei Oogink (NED)
3 – Maria Espinoza (MEX)

Women's -73 kg podium

Evening session
Men’s -87 kg
Vladislav Larin (RUS) really struggled to defeat Kyo-don In (KOR) after a very close and exciting match that needed the extra time to be decided. The local athlete started better, hitting his opponent with 2 actions in 1 attack -a punch and a body kick- that gave the Asian a 0-3 lead. He used the fist again to put himself 4-0 up, but Larin reacted with a powerful body kick. The Korean surprised Larin with another punch (2-5) with only two minutes left, but the Russian saved the best for the final. He found In’s trunk in two consecutive occasions to take a 6-5 lead, but yet another punch from the Korean tied the game to 6. Sudden death period… A lot of attacks from both sides, but no movement on the scoreboard… until the Korean tried a desperate one with 2 seconds left that ended with his body falling on the floor and giving Larin the keys for the final.

Larin (RUS-red) vs Bachmann (GER-blue)

Alexander Bachmann (GER) and Ivan Trajkovic (SLO) also seemed to be heading for a sudden death period, but a surprising right trunk kick from the German with only 4 seconds to go put him directly in the gold medal match (15-13). The fight had been very close again, with both athletes exchanging more than 10 certain kicks -including one head shot from the German- to entertain the spectators at T1 Arena. It was a matter of a small detail, and Bachmann was the smartest player in the end, securing the first medal for his country in the event after a discouraging performance so far.
Women’s -73 kg
Korea wasn’t going to allow another category without Finalists in the evening session, so Hyeri Oh (KOR), reigning Olympic and World champion, took advantage of the crowd’s support and edged another Olympic medalist such as Maria Espinoza (MEX) in an intense clash that ended 15-6. The Mexican managed to handle all Oh’s attacks until the last round, which started with a 5-1 lead for Espinoza. But in the last two minutes, the Korean champion showed all her skills to connect several body kicks combined with a head kick that had only one final solution: the gold medal match.
Milica Mandic (SRB), London 2012 Olympic gold medalist, didn’t have an easy way after such a success, struggling to achieve good results in major competitions, but she came back at her best to Muju. She didn’t have a comfortable opponent in the Semifinal, as Reshmei Oogink (NED) was able to stay ahead of the fight at the beginning after launching a precise body kick in the first seconds. Mandic warmed up and found a better rhythm in the end, connecting a super body kick that allowed a 3-2 lead for her, but a gam-jeon in the final seconds led the clash to the sudden death period. The extra time lasted just 3 seconds, the time Mandic needed to launch a perfect head shot for the crucial 3 points.
Men’s +87 kg
Abdoulrazak Issoufou (NIG), silver medalist in Rio 2016, was a bit better than Anthony Obame (GAB), also silver medalist at London 2012 Olympics and world champion at Puebla 2013, in the second Semifinal, which ended 16-9 for the Niger representative. Issoufou was up in the match during all time, and bit by bit, managed to increase the gap. 1-4 at the end of the first round, 5-7 with 4 minutes played, and 5-11 with only 1 minute to go. Obame had to take risks, and he did. He rose his score to 8, but the desperation to score didn’t result. Issoufou scored 5 more points to reach the Final.
Mahama Cho (GBR) made his way to a world championships’ Final for the first time after a perfect fight against Roman Kuznetsov from Russia, who was smashed by the British athlete throughout the 6 minutes. Cho performed at a superb attacking level, launching extremely powerful and fast kicks from both sides to score no less than 22 points. On the other hand, Kuznetsov could only score through 2 gam-jeons and a body kick in the last seconds when everything was decided. The best performance of the night so far was Cho’s, no doubt about it.
Men’s -87 kg
The first gold of the evening wa taken by Germany, who still hadn’t reached the podium in Muju, as Alexander Bachmann got ird of no other tan Vladislav Larin (RUS), world number 1, bronze at Chelyabinsk 2015 and reigning European champion, by 11-9 after a very clever match. He contained most of Larin’s attacks and waited for the right time to launch super powerful kicks. Both athletes exchanged points until there were only 50 seconds to be played. With 7-7, Bachmann surprised Larin with a fist attach that gave him an 8-7 lead. With this move, he also managed to throw Larin on the floor, rising the lead to 9-7. With almost no time left to react, Larin left too much space for the German, who used his right leg again to hit the Russian in the trunk and kiss the gold medal.
Women’s -73 kg
Hyeri Oh (KOR), reigning Olympic and World champion, couldn’t revalidate her crowin in front of her supporters as Milica Mandic from Serbia, London 2012 Olympic gold medalist, proved to be the strongest finalist in the last period to taste glory by 17-13. It was a fight with ups and downs, with Mandic taking a 4-0 lead at the very beginning, Oh reacting with a 8-0 run, and Mandic answerin with a 13-3 partial. The score of the last period was 4-10, with the Serbian showing the world why she grabbed the gold medal at London 2012. Her attacking pace was just too much for the Korean, who could not stop the body kicks from Mandic, who seems to be definitely back to the top class Taekwondo for good.

Mandic (SRB-red) connects a head shot against Oh (KOR-blue)

Men’s +87 kg
Abdoul Issoufou (NIG) had to content with the silver medal at Rio 2016 Olympics, but the tall athlete from Niger wasn’t going to miss another opportunity to win a major final. He was impossible to be attacked during the whole match, with Cho only being able to score through 4 gam-jeons. Issoufou, on the other hand, apart from taking advantage of these 5 free points, was able to connect two extraordinary trunk shots in the last round to rise his count to 9. Issoufou used a 9-1 advantage with few seconds left to avoid contact with Cho, receiving 3 more penalties, but taking the gold to Niger for the first time ever in our sport.
Day session: Men’s -63 kg and Women’s -57 kg

Great Britain (2), Korea, Sweden, Turkey, China, Iran and Azerbaijan confirmed their place in tomorrow’s podium after the day session of Muju 2017 Day 5 was completed.
Seven countries managed to place one athlete each into the Semi-finals of the Women’s -57 kg and Men’s -63 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 -63 kg

– Mahammad Mammadov (AZE)
– Mirhashem Hosseini (IRI)
– Bradly Sinden (GBR)
– Shuai Zhao (CHN)
Mammadov, gold medallist at Taipei 2014 Junior Championships, will face Hosseini for a place in the big final, as the athlete who defeated the reigning world champion Achab (BEL), Bradly Sinden from Great Britain, will fight Zhao from China for the other. The British youngster showed he is someone to watch out for after successfuly beating Chi-Hou Ng (MAC 35-2), Guzman (ARG 2-0 by GDP), Cunha (BRA 22-1) and the number 1 seed Achab (BEL 13-11), while Zhao had to defeat Chea (LBR 19-3), Edwin (NGR 33-12), Navea (CHI 16-15) and the local hope Park (KOR 27-16) to make his way to the Semis. On the other side of the draw, Mammadov got rid of Toirov (UZB 10-3), Diao (SEN 26-6), Costa (POR 35-17) and the Russian Izutdinov (RUS 11-7), while Hosseini left Hajjami (MAR 25-5), Chang (USA 21-10), Recber (TUR 20-6) and Ho (TPE 21-7) on his way to certify a medal in the category.
Women’s -57 kg

– Jade Jones (GBR)
– Ah-reum Lee (KOR)
– Nikita Glasnovic (SWE)
– Hatice Ilgun (TUR)
The double Olympic champion Jade Jones proved to be a the big candidate for the gold once again after beating Laaraj (MAR 10-0), White (USA 20-2) and Chen (TPE 11-8), securing another medal for Team GB in the event; Lee showed her power over Christensen (DEN 27-5), Vuletic (CRO 15-9) and Hamada (JPN 14-8); Glasnovic beat Moya (PER 9-2), Harnsujin (THA 5-4) and Parsa (IRI 7-7 by SUP); while Ilgun’s superb performance on Thursday left Muriu (KEN 30-6), Tarvida (LAT 5-4), Froemming (GER 18-8) and Cunha (POR 2-2 by SUP) behind her.
Tomorrow will be the day for the Semi-finals and Finals of these two divisions and for the beginning and end of the Women’s -62 kg and Men’s -80 kg categories, which will complete their draw until the final podium.
Pau Aguilar, Muju

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