Makarov’s successful return to judo arena
By Dmitry Kirillov
Four out of five matches in the over 200kg weight category have been won by Makarov by ‘ippon’; in two he needed just over four minutes to claim victory. This bodes well for him facing Egypt’s Islam El-Shehabi, Brazil’s Rafael Silva and Korean Sung-Min Kim at the next Olympics (each being ranked in the top ten worldwide). This will be Makarov’s first Olympic appearance since Athens, as he failed to qualify for Beijing. He changed weight category and many anticipated the end of his career but his recent win allows him to go through to London.
“Igor was upset by his failures,” notes prominent Belarusian judo coach Natik Bagirov. “Accordingly, he’s thirsty for a win. His four victories in Tsingtao have pushed him from 21st place to 16th worldwide.”
Only the top 22 in each weight category gain places at the Olympics. Belarusian Alexander Steshenko (under 81kg) was placed 9th in China, being defeated in the 1/8 finals by world champion Ivan Nifontov, from Russia.