LUKAS KRPALEK WINS FIRST IJF MEDAL FOR IPPON GEAR14. February 2018
Everything was focused on Lukas Krpalek for the first appearance of IPPON GEAR at an IJF event. The Czech Olympic Champion is the face of the new IJF brand which is based in Abensberg. Yes, Abensberg, the home of the famous judo club TSV Abensberg which is living the judo spirit to its maximum for more than half a century.
Sunday, February 11th 2018, the day was come and Lukas Krpalek stepped on the tatami in a fully packed Paris Bercy Arena facing none else than Yusei Ogawa from Japan. A tough draw for the former 100kg fighter from Prague. Both faced in an exciting 9min final at the Tokyo Grand Slam in December 2017 with the better end for the Japanese heavy weight. But not this time, the fight went into Golden Score again and Krpalek forced Ogawa into a third penalty which resulted into Hansoku-Make and finally the disqualification for his opponent.
Next round, Quarterfinal. Lukas Krpalek vs. Aliaksandr Vakhaviak from Belarussia, a dangerous fighter 20-30 kg heavier than the Czech superstar. But Krpalek controlled the fight with an impressive Kumi-Kata (grip fighting) and went again into Golden Score which seems to be always an advantage for the relatively light heavy weight from Prague. An exhausted Vakhaviak wasn’t able to follow the pace of Krpalek who finally threw the Belarussian for Wazaari and secured his ticket to the Semi Final.
In the Semi Final, Krpalek faced Sungmin Kim from South Korea. The 30-year-old Kim started off strong and Kpralek wasn’t able to control the Kumi-Kata for the first time this day. Having a hard time to adjust to the Korean’s style, the 27-year-old Czech made a small mistake which Kim used to his advantage. Ippon for the Korean, the dream of the Grand Slam Gold in Paris was gone. But wait, the video referees reviewed the score and gave Krpalek a second chance downgrading the score to Wazaari. The Czech “IPPON GEAR LEGEND” obviously tried to utilize this decision, put all into it and forced the very defensive Korean opponent into two penalties but finally ran out of time. Kim was through to the final, Krpalek into the fight for 3rd place.
The whole IPPON GEAR crew was awaiting the Bronze Medal Fight like an Olympic final. Would it be the first medal at the first Grand Slam for IPPON GEAR? The opponent, Roy Meyer from Netherlands, had definitely some arguments against that. It turned out to become the awaited thriller. No scores after 4 minutes, Golden Score again. Krpalek appeared to be the fresher of the two again but never underestimate an explosive and always dangerous Roy Meyer. After throwing Meyer for Wazaari which was taken back, Krpalek scored a second Wazaari and finally won the Bronze medal.
A special moment for Krpalek winning the second consecutive Grand Slam medal in the heavy weight division. Being one of the lightest athletes in this division, he seems more and more comfortable with the big guys.
For IPPON GEAR it was a proud moment winning the first medal in the first international event. The whole IPPON GEAR team looks forward to the upcoming Grand Slam in Düsseldorf where we are going to see the national teams of Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia and Denmark in the IPPON GEAR LEGEND uniform. More medals on the horizon? We will see but after the Grand Slam Paris…
…IPPON GEAR IS DEFINITELY IJF APPROVED!
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Pictures: Christian Fidler