Vitaly Makarov celebrates birthday with Russian team in Mongolia. He is now the team lead and is busier than ever. Since the departure of Ezio Gamba due to illness, Makarov has had a tough job. His real home is in Spain with his family, but he travels frequently throughout the year.
Vitaly Makarov was a world champion and Olympic medalist and fought some valiant battles with some of the top athletes of the day such as Gennadi Bilodid, Christoph Galliano, Daniel Fernandez, Lee Won-hee and Jimmy Pedro. However, the best game of them all was against Japan’s Kanamaru.
The best judo matches are those in which the players on both sides constantly exchange attacks. It’s not uncommon to see an all-around final, it really can go either way. Vitaly Makarov’s (RUS) final at the 2001 World Championships in Munich was such a match.
His opponent is the dynamic Japanese player Yusuke Kanamaru, a morote-seoi-nage specialist who beat Makarov in the World Cup final in Budapest a few months ago.
Makarov kicked off the game with an uchimata attack in the opening seconds. After a while, Kanima answered the question. This back-and-forth attack pattern will continue for the remainder of the game.
The technology used by each player is virtually unchanged. Kanamaru occasionally uses yoko-tomoe-nage, but for the most part, it’s morote-seoi-nage. His main attack is the descending version, but he also has a standing version where he will come in with a “floating elbow”. This is a common method used by Japanese players when doing standing morot-sai. Three-time Olympic champion Tadahiro Nomura also used the “floating elbow” method when doing standing stances.
As for Makarov, he plays mostly introvert, although at one point in the fight, as Kanamaru moves forward, he decides to give his Japanese opponent a taste of his own medicine and makes a near-run move . But Makarov’s main attack is the uchimata.
Since both players were clearly very familiar with the other’s style, neither of their respective preferred techniques worked. But heading into the final minute of the game, Makarov was two Yukos ahead. He got the first by countering a morote-seoi-nage attack by Kanamaru and the second by a well-timed foot sweep.
With little time left in the game, Kanimaru applied pressure and Makarov released another introvert as they headed towards the edge of the mat. This time, it launched Kanimaru into the air, leaving him lying flat on the ground as an indisputable ippon.
And just like that, one of the most exciting competitions in the world of judo came to an end. Kanamaru bowed to Makarov with a smile on his face, shaking hands and congratulating him warmly. It’s a nod to the better player winning that day. Kanamaru and Makarov also became good friends after their careers.