Beslan Mudranov was an unlikely contender to win gold in the run up to the judo events in Rio 2016. But on the first day of the Olympic games, he was able to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the sport, defeating Yeldos Smetov of Kazakhstan in the final of the men’s 60kg event.
With Mudranov’s victory, Russia wins its first gold in Rio 2016.
Mudranov is also one of 271 Russian athletes who was allowed to compete in the Olympic games. Months before the sporting event, the Russian Olympic team received sanctions imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for state-sponsored doping.
This almost resulted in a blanket ban of all Russian athletes, but instead the IOC left the decision to individual governing sports bodies.
This led to the ban of 118 Russians, including bans among track and field, swimming and weightlifting athletes, among others. Despite this, Russia is still considered as one of the powerhouses of the games.
In his win, Mudranov defeated Jeroen Mooren, Hovhannes Davtyan and Amiran Papinashvili. He also scored a huge win against top seeded judoka, Kim Won-Jin of South Korea, in his path to winning the gold medal.
“I don’t know yet, but right now I’m very happy. I don’t understand what I’m feeling right now. Today I felt okay, so I am at the peak of my career.” said the Russian judoka, in an interview after his fight.
Mudranov also made it clear that the doping scandal, has not hampered the confidence and determination of the entire Russian judo team, saying the allegations have not had “any effect at all” on himself or his compatriots.
“We were sure that they won’t exclude us, because excluding a whole country is firstly not fair and, it seems to me, impossible,” he added.
In other results, the men’s 60kg event silver medal was won by Diyorbek Urozboev of Uzbekistan while the bronze medal went to Naohisa Takato of Japan.
The women’s 48kg saw a win for Argentina’s Paula Pareto, while Jeong Bo Kyeong settled for silver. Kazakhtan’s Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh and Japan’s Ami Kondo were awarded bronze medals.
As Russia wins its first gold in Rio, many may still ponder if the team even deserves to be at the games, but at the end of the day, this is exactly what the Olympics stands for-unity against adversity.
PHOTO COURTESY: Martin Hesketh/ Flickr