Travis Stevens Upsets World Medalist Places Fifth at World Masters Championships

March 28, 2012, 11:31 a.m. (ET)
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Competing for the first-time at the World Masters Championships, 2008 Olympian Travis Stevens (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE / 81kg) placed fifth in Baku, Azerbaijan on Sunday.

Added to the international calendar for the first time in 2010, the World Masters Championships is an invitation-only event in which the top 16 players in each division compete for medals and nearly as many Olympic qualifying points as the Senior World Championships.  USA Judo sent a team of three athletes to compete in the event. 

“It was a different experience. We didn't have the warm up rounds like we would have in normal events,” Stevens said.  “But when you think about it, it's no different than the other tournament I fight. When you go to Grand Slams and Grand Prix events, you are going to have to be these types of players to medal and that's always the goal.”

In a division stacked with World and Olympic medalists, Stevens drew 2010 World medalist Masahiro Takamatsu (JPN) in the first round of the 81kg division.

“Takamatsu is a tough first match there were definitely easier first rounds that I could have had,” Stevens said.  “Style-wise I match up well with him, though, so I just had to make sure that I kept pressure on him all the time, mostly on the ground. If I could make sure he was nervous about being on the ground, he would hesitate with his throws.”

At the conclusion of the five-minute regulation period, neither player had scored and the match was sent into Golden Score (overtime) where Stevens threw Takamatsu with an uchimata (inner thigh throw) for a yuko (quarter-point) score.

“It was a long match and I could tell he was just as tired as I was,” Stevens said.  “Knowing that gave me some confidence that I could pull it off.”

With one more win needed to reach the podium in the single-elimination event, Stevens fought two-time World medalist Euan Burton (GBR) – the player Stevens lost to in the fourth round of the Senior Worlds last year.

Unfortunately, Stevens racked up four penalties and lost the quarter-final match.

“The match with Burton is one that is going to haunt me for a long time,” Stevens said.  “I lost that match because i didn't stick to the game plan that Jimmy and I had come up with. I was just too tired from the match before. He is a guy I can beat and I just needed to stay mentally tough in order to pull that one off.”

Although Stevens earned Olympic qualifying points, falling short of the podium left the 24-year-old disappointed with his performance.

“I'm not happy with the way I fought. Yes, I beat the guy who took third at Worlds and second at the Tokyo Grand Slam, but I hold my self to a higher standard I expect to win regardless of the draw. I know I have the judo to beat anyone in the division.  I just have to start pulling the trigger and throw.”

Stevens will have the opportunity to fight again for another chance at a podium finish when he fights at the Paris Grand Slam on Feb. 5 – an event in which he earned a bronze in 2010.

During the next few weeks, Stevens plans on working on his standing game.

“The goal is to always win. My second goal is for all of my matches to end with a throw.  I don't want to win on shidos,” Stevens said.  “For me, winning a medal at a big event doesn't provide me with comfort that I will do well in the next event. I think that this year's Paris tournament will be a lot tougher then last year’s as well.” 

Two other members of Team USA competed on Saturday, but both lost their opening matches to the eventual champions.

Stevens’ USA Judo National Team FORCE and NYAC teammate Nick Delpopolo (Wakefield, Mass.) fought two-time World Champion and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Ki-Chun Wang (KOR) after a first-round bye in the 73kg division.

Delpopolo and Wang fought for a full five minutes, but Wang won the match when he threw Delpopolo with a tai o toshi (body drop throw) for a yuko score). 

Marti Malloy (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University) fought four-time World medalist Telma Monteiro (POR) in the first round of the 57kg division.  Malloy went in for a sode (sleeve throw), but Monteiro countered with a footsweep for a waza-ari (half-point) score.  Monteiro finished the match when she footswept Malloy for another waza-ari score.

Reigning World Champion Kayla Harrison (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE / 78kg) was invited to compete, but was forced to withdraw from the event due to blizzard conditions that prevented her from leaving Boston. 

Complete results are as follows:

Men’s 60kg
1. Rishod Sobirov (UZB)
2. Arsen Galstyan (RUS)
3. Beslan Mudranov (RUS)
3. Ilgar Mushkiyev (AZE)
5. Boldbaatar Chimed-Yondon (MGL)
5. Jeroen Mooren (NED)
5. Amiran Papinashvili (GEO)
5. Pavel Petrikov (CZE)

Men’s 66kg
1. Tsagaanbaatar Hashbaatar (MGL)
2. Rok Draksic (SLO)
3. Tarlan Karimov (AZE)
3. Sugoi Uriarte (ESP)
5. Leandro Cunha (BRA)
5. Alim Gadanov (RUS)
5. Kamal Khan-Magomedov (RUS)
5. Joo-Jin (KOR)

Men’s 73kg
1. Ki-Chun Wang (KOR)
2. Mansur Isaev (RUS)
3. Yasuhiro Awano (JPN)
3. Attila Ungvari (HUN)
5. Benjamin Darbelet (FRA)
5. Dex Elmont (NED)
5. Navruz Jurakobilov (UZB)
5. Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal (MGL)

Also Competed: Nick Delpopolo (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE), 0-1

Men’s 81kg
1. Elnur Mammadli (AZE)
2. Leandro Guilheiro (BRA)
3. Euan Burton (GBR)
3. Takahiro Nakai (JPN)
5. Safouane Attaf (MAR)
5. Axel Clerget (FRA)
5. Tomislav Marijanovic (CRO)
5. Travis Stevens (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE)

Men’s 90kg
1. Elkhan Mammadov (AZE)
2. Ilias Iliadis (GRE)
3. Kirill Denisov (RUS)
3. Takashi Ono (JPN)
5. Tiago Camilo (BRA)
5. Kyu-Won Lee (KOR)
5. Varlam Liparteliani (GEO)
5. Masashi Nishiyama (JPN)

Men’s 100kg
1. Sergey Samoylovich (RUS)
2. Tagir Khaybulaev (RUS)
3. Temuulen Battulga (MGL)
3. Maxim Rakov (KAZ)
5. Yauhen Biadulin (BLR)
5. Jevgenijs Borodavko (LAT)
5. Elmar Gasimov (AZE)
5. Hee-Tae Hwang (KOR)

Men’s +100kg
1. Teddy Riner (FRA)
2. Islam El Shehaby (EGY)
3. Keiji Suzuki (JPN)
3. Andreas Toelzer (GER)
5. Daiki Kamikawa (JPN)
5. Sung-Min Kim (KOR)
5. Rafael Silva (BRA)
5. Janusz Wojnarowicz (POL)

Women’s 48kg
1. Haruna Asami (JPN)
2. Emi Yamagishi (JPN)
3. Eva Csernoviczki (HUN)
3. Sarah Menezes (BRA)
5. Oiana Blanco (ESP)
5. Jung-Yeon Chung (KOR)
5. Urantsetseg Munkhbat (MGL)
5. Shugen Wu (CHN)

Women’s 52kg
1. Misato Nakamura (JPN)
2. Yuka Nishida (JPN)
3. Laura Gomez (ESP)
3. Bundmaa Munkhbaatar (MGL)
5. Ana Carrascosa (ESP)
5. Hongmei He (CHN)
5. Majlinda Kelmendi (IJF)
5. Marie Muller (LUX)

Women’s 57kg
1. Telma Monteiro (POR)
2. Kaori Matsumoto (JPN)
3. Concepcion Bellorin (ESP)
3. Jan-Di Kim (KOR)
5. Sabrina Filzmoser (AUT)
5. Kifayat Gasimova (AZE)
5. Hedvig Karakas (HUN)
5. Automne Pavia (FRA)

Also Competed: Marti Malloy (San Jose, Calif. / USA Judo National Training Site at San Jose State University), 0-1

Women’s 63kg
1. Gevrise Emane (FRA)
2. Yoshie Ueno (JPN)
3. Yarden Gerbi (ISR)
3. Claudia Malzahn (GER)
5. Anicka Van Emden (NED)
5. Yuhua Xu (CHN)
5. Ramila Yusubova (AZE)
5. Urska Zolnir (SLO)

Women’s 70kg
1. Lucie Decosse (FRA)
2. Ye-Sul Hwang (KOR)
3. Edith Bosch (NED)
3. Yoriko Kunihara (JPN)
5. Cecilia Blanco (ESP)
5. Rasa Sraka (SLO)
5. Haruka Tachimoto (JPN)
5. Kerstin Thiele (GER) 

Women’s 78kg
1. Xiuli Yang (CHN)
2. Celine Lebrun (FRA)
3. Abigel Joo (HUN)
3. Akari Ogata (JPN)
5. Catherine Jacques (BEL)
5. Audrey Tcheumeo (FRA)
5. Marhinde Verkerk (NED)
5. Heide Wollert (GER)

Women’s +78kg
1. Megumi Tachimoto (JPN)
2. Mika Sugimoto (JPN)
3. Na-Young Kim (KOR)
3. Lucija Polavder (SLO)
5. Maria Suelen Althemam (BRA)
5. Qian Qin (CHN)
5. Carola Uilenhoed (NED)
5. Song Yu (CHN)
Tags: Kayla Harrison, Marti Malloy, Nick Delpopolo, Travis Stevens