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Puebla 2013 Day 4: Russia joins Korea's 2nd party

Puebla 2013 Day 4: Russia joins Korea's 2nd party

Korea won two more gold medals in Puebla 2013 WTF World Championships fourth day of competition to strengthen its leadership in the Medal Count of the event with 4 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze. Tae-Hun Kim became the new World Champion of the Men’s -54 kg division by smashing Chia Lin Hsu 7-0 (TPE) in a completely controlled final, while Yu-Jin Kim had to wait until the extra period to confirm her victory against Ana Zaninovic (CRO), who was 1 second away from the glory (7-6 SDP). The other gold medallist of the day was the Russian Olga Ivanova, who proved herself as the new queen of the +73 kg category with a convincing win over the local idol, Briseida Acosta (MEX), by 8-3.
The bronze medallist of the three categories ended up being Hussein Sherif (EGY) and Jerranat Nakaviroj (THA) in Men’s -54 kg, Ana Bajic (SRB) and Anne-Caroline Graffe (FRA) in Women’s +73 kg, and Yamisel Núñez (CUB) and Floriane Liborio (FRA) in Women’s -53 kg.
The first Semi-final of the fourth competition day at Puebla Exhibition Center put number 5 seeded Yu-Jin Kim (KOR) and non-seeded Yamisel Núñez (CUB) face to face. The first round of the fight finished with no points in the score, as both athletes proved to be really good when dodging their opponents’ kick attacks. Núñez was the first fighter to break the ice with a quick chest kick, which seemed to wake Kim up, as the Korean connected a tremendous head kick with her right leg instantly after being down 1-0. With 3-1, Kim managed to control the pace of the match, allowing Núñez to score only one chest kick throughout the clash. In the end, 4-1 and fourth final for Korea in the Championships.
The second Female’s -53 kg match confronted number 3 seeded Ana Zaninovic (CRO) and Floriane Liborio (FRA), ranked in second place of the draw. The Croatian dominated the fight from the beginning, successfully attacking Liborio’s defense with his right kick three times in the first round, which finished 3-0. Zaninovic tried to control the match from a solid defense since then, but was penalized with a kyong go that made the French athlete score her first point of the clash. The Croatian took the penalty as a catalyst, as she obtained 4 points in a row since then, thanks to a chest kick and a spectacular head kick with only 1 minute left. Time to defend… one kyong go, 7-2 and access to the final achieved. Ana reached the stage her sister couldn’t complete two days ago, leading Croatia to its first gold medal chance of the event.

Ana Zaninovic (CRO) aims a kick at Floriane Liborio (FRA) during Women's -53 kg second Semi-final. All photos: Oriol Guanyabens

The next combat of the day starred Anne-Caroline Graffe (FRA), ranked number 1 of the Women’s +73 kg division, and Olga Ivanova (RUS), number 5 seeded. The French fighter, silver medallist at London 2012, and the Russian challenger offered the excited Mexican crowd one of the best fights of the tournament so far. The first period finished 7-5 for the Russian, who connected 2 head kicks as she permitted the French star scoring only one. Graffe took advantage of her great experience and responded to the challenge with a great second period, which ended with 11 all in the score. A heartbreaking final round was about to be played. Both fighters tried their best but did also feel the pressure, as no more points were scored until the last minute, when Ivanova found a crack on the French wall with an accurate chest kick. 12-11 with 30 seconds left, enough time for Graffe to react with a powerful and accurate chest punch, 12-12 and the crowd getting ready for the extra time. The spectacular action seemed to give the French a lot of confidence, maybe too much, as she tried to repeat it with just 5 seconds on the clock, but when the referee had already stopped the fight. Kyong go and 12-13 for Ivanova, who avoided the contact since then and confirmed her presence in the big final.
Time for Ana Bajic (SRB) tried to find her way to her fisrt big crucial fight of her career. But her opponent was not an easy one at all: Briseida Acosta (MEX), the local idol. Bajic scored the first point quickly, but Acosta, carried by the spectators, turned the score around with a tremendous head kick. At the end of the second period, Acosta was up by 4-2, which allowed her to perform a defense master-class with her right leg throughout the round, which ended 2-5. Mexico secured the silver, its third medal of the tournament.
After Women’s Semis, Tae-Hun Kim (KOR) and Jerranat Nakaviroj (THA) opened the Men’s -54 kg ones with an extremely intense fight that finished 10-4 for the Korean, who certified his country’s fifth presence in a final. The first two periods were really tied, with the Thai fighter leading the match by 1 point in up to 3 different times. At the end of them, absolute equality: 3-3. An early kyong go to Nakaviroj wich costed him 1 point (4-3), gave Kim the confidence he needed to display his splendid catalogue of actions. One chest kick, one turn chest kick and a brutal head kick were too much for the Thai, who could only score one more point by kyong go. 10-4 for the Korean.

Tae-Hun Kim (KOR) jumps looking for a crack on Nakaviroj's (THA) defense

The last Semi of Day 4 wasn’t as spectacular as the previous one. Chia Lin Hsu (TPE) achieved an early 3 point lead thanks to 3 precise chest kicks in the first round and was always in control of the fight, dodging all the attempts launched by the Egyptian and number 3 seeded Hussein Sherif. The second round did not produce any points, and that was the tone of the clash until the last 30 seconds, when Hsu connected two consecutive chest kicks that were quickly contested by Sherif, who inaugurated his scoreboard with a great head kick that was eventually not enough. 3-5 for Hsu and second final for Chinese Taipei in the event.
The first Final of the day ended up being the first crucial match that needed to be decided in the extra time, with the Korean Yu-Jin Kim winning the third gold medal of the Asian giants in this 2013 World Champs. Almost all points scored during the regular time were achieved in the last second of a period, with the first one finishing with 1-3 for Zaninovic (CRO), the second one ending with a 5-4 lead for Kim, and the last one becoming a an absolute thriller, as with 5 seconds left, the Croatian managed to score a spectacular turn chest kick that seemed to give her the title. Kim reacted immediately and was able to connect a chest right kick in the very last second of the match, with Zaninovic already celebrating the gold on the tatami. A fact that could have had an impact on the extra time, where Kim scored the winning point in her first brave attempt of the period , miles of a second before Zaninovic had touched her head with the right food.

Briseida Acosta (MEX), desolated after losing the gold medal match against Ivanova (RUS) in front of her compatriots

The most expected match of the day was the final between the local idol, Briseida Acosta (MEX), and the Russian outsider, Olga Ivanova (RUS), who battled for the Women’s +73 kg title in an impressive and emotional atmosphere at Puebla Exhibition Center. However, the crowd’s support wasn’t enough to beat Ivanova, who proved to hold an unbreakable confidence after having recently defeated the big favorite of the draw. The Russian led the fight from the very first moment, scoring 3 chest kicks in the first round to end it with a 3-0 lead. She then started the second round with a higher pace, connecting a powerful head kick to make the 6-0. Acosta, who didn’t want to let her compatriots down, tried really hard to come back, and managed to score a head kick that get her closer to the Russian (6-3). But the Russian didn’t lose the focused, remained extremely solid and managed to score 2 more points by hitting the Mexican’s chest with her right leg. Russia had just grabbed its first gold of the tournament.
The closing combat of Puebla 2013 Day 4, confirmed Korea’s second triumphal day of the tournament, as Tae-Hun Kim (KOR) became the new Men’s -54 kg champion after smashing Chia Lin Hsu (TPE) in a brilliant performance that combined both attacking and defending skills. Kim reached an early lead thanks to a left chest kick in the first part of round 1. He confirmed his superiority at the beginning of the second period, when he showed his left head kick weapon once again. Hsu tried to comeback with several head kick attempts, but none of them ended up being successful, even though Chinese Taipei’s coach asked for the video replay after a close one. Kim was not going to drop a gold medal which was already feeling his, so one more head kick, 7-0, and yet another title for the Asian giants.
Pau Aguilar
(Puebla, Mexico)

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