The draws for 59 kg and 75 kg at the Rio Olympics were released earlier today and the US is in decent position to get the ball rolling. Jesse Thielke (USA) will be meeting up with Moroccan Medhi Messaoudi while Andy Bisek (USA) gets to battle it out against Yurisandi Hernandez (CUB), an opponent Bisek has already experienced some success against.
There isn’t a whole lot out there about Messaoudi. He qualified for Rio at the sparsely-attended Africa/Ocenia tournament back in the spring. It was basically a round-robin where he went 1-1, winning one match 8-6 and then getting tech’ed out by one of Egypt’s more capable athletes, Haithem Ahmed Fahmy (world no. 10). Messaoudi is not on the level of any of Thielke’s more recent international opponents, and that’s including Guarav Sharma (IND), who Thielke lost to at the 1st OG Qualifier. He’s here because of geographic fortuity more than actual merit. That may sound kind of cutting to say about an Olympian, but it is extraordinarily unlikely Messaoudi makes it to Rio any other way.
Messaoudi bends at the waist a bit, folkstyle-like, and seems to have a fairly basic arsenal. He doesn’t look like a big ole’ pushover, but chances are Thielke will run through him like an angry train that just left the station. Should Thielke prevail, the likelihood is that two-time Olympic silver medalist Rovshan Bayramov (AZE) will be waiting for him. Hamid Soryan (IRI, world no. 14) and Ibragim Labazanov (RUS, world no. 17) are also on Thielke’s side of the bracket but seriously, one step at a time.
Bisek has beaten Hernandez a couple of times or so. They actually had a pretty entertaining match at Beat the Streets last year, too. Hernandez is tough. He moves well, displays fairly consistent defense, and is willing to bark back during exchanges. But he can certainly be turned and Bisek has done so on several occasions. If Bisek is about to begin a march to history, this is an appropriate opponent to have to kick it off.
If Bisek does in fact get past Hernandez, he will face the winner of Bozo Starcevic (CRO, world no. 17) and Selcuk Cebi (TUR). On the top half, a high-profile grudge match between Roman Vlasov (RUS, world no. 1) and Kim Hyeon-woo (KOR, world no. 4) is going to eliminate one of two medal favorites from gold contention. It also means that Bisek will be seeing one of them should he make it to the semifinals. Hey, we said that bracket is stacked, didn’t we?
Enjoy the show!