LONDON: Kim Jae-Bum claimed the one gold medal missing from his collection as he won the Olympic men’s under-81 kg judo title at the ExCel Arena Tuesday.
In doing so, the South Korean gained a measure of revenge as he beat Germany’s Ole Bischof in the final, reversing their result from Beijing four years ago.
Kim, 27, came into the competition as a double world champion, Olympic finalist, five-time Asian champion and once Asian Games gold medallist.
Yet the one major victory missing from his CV was the Olympic crown.
However, he produced an imperious performance in the championship rounds to land the gold medal.
Kim proved too fast and dynamic for Bischof in the final, twice registering a minimum yuko score with a shoulder throw (seoi-nage) attack.
Bischof, 32, claimed afterward his powers had diminished since Beijing while Kim has just got better, but the Korean disagreed.
“Bischof is such a great fighter, I’m very glad to have competed against him in the final,” he said.
“He has very good ground techniques, he said he’s aged compared to four years ago but I didn’t see any indication of him getting old.
“He has great physical strength and power, if I had been too nervous and not prepared enough for the Olympics I might have lost to him.”
The German had nothing but respect for the man who dethroned him.
“Four years ago was when he was quite young and was the Asian champion. Now I’m four years older while he’s developed,” he said.
“He’s much stronger and quicker, he deserved to be champion and I’m happy he got the gold medal.”
In the semifinal Kim had taken part in one of the tournament’s fights, beating Russian Ivan Nifontov by a half-point waza-ari from another seoi-nage.
But that one score did not tell the tale of a hugely entertaining bout full of attacking verve, mostly from Kim but also from the Russian.
Bischof himself had been involved in an entertaining semifinal against American Travis Stevens, although that was in part due to the needle provoked by some wayward strikes and even a head-butt.
At one point the pair squared up as if to take the fight into street rules.
“I’ve been in judo for a very long time and usually that doesn’t happen so it would be better to ask the American fighter [why it did],” Bischof said.
Stevens then lost to Canada’s Antoine Valois-Fortier for bronze while Nifontov snatched the other bronze from Japan’s Takahiro Nakai.
In the women’s under-63 kg category Urska Zolnir won Slovenia’s first ever women’s Olympic gold medal and the first for her country in judo.
She beat China’s Xu Lili in the final, throwing her opponent with seoi-nage for a waza-ari.
She had been as brilliant as she was brutal all day, dispatching her first three opponents with arm-locks before flattening Mongolia’s Munkhzaya Tsedevsuren for the maximum ippon (a technical knockout) in the semifinal.
Having also claimed bronze in Athens eight years ago, the 30-year-old said it would soon be time to hang up her belt.
“I’m already 30, this is my third Olympics and my second medal.”
“I’ve got the gold one now and you won’t see me in Rio.
“I’m happy, it’s really hard to express my feelings right now, I still haven’t realized exactly that I won gold because under-63 kg is a category with a lot of good athletes.”
World champion Gevrise Emane of France and Japan’s world No. 1 and twice former world champion Yoshie Ueno took the bronze medals.