Fabio Basile's Path To Olympic Gold
Italy’s Fabio Basile was not an unknown quantity when he stepped on the judo mat at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He had, after all, won the bronze medal at the European Championships that year. However, it is true that he was relatively unknown when compared to some of the bigger stars competing there, such An Baul (KOR), Mikhail Puliaev (RUS), Masashi Ebinuma (JPN), Georgii Zantaraia (UKR) and Rishod Shobirov (UZB).
Basile throws Seidl with a massive drop sode for ippon.
His first match of the day was against the capable German Sebastian Seidl. Basile despatched him with a very low, drop sode-tsurikomi-goshi which left the German flat on his back, for a spectacular ippon.
Shikhalizada hesitated for a second after getting thrown and paid the price for it.
Next up, he was up against the experienced Shikhalizada, who was expected to come up tops in this encounter. Basile surprised Shikhalizada with a tewaza counter that scored waza-ari. The Azerbaijani fighter was left momentarily stunned and this was enough time for Basile to whip a strangle across his neck and secure a submission.
Basile opened up the accounts with a side takedown, one of his trademark moves.
His third match of the day was against the cagey Mongolian Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj who was caught by very low, side-takedown (yoko-otoshi) in the opening seconds of the match.
Davaadorj spent the rest of the match trying to get back that score. Basile took advantage of that and foot-swept Davaadorj with a classical de-ashi-barai just as the Mongolian was pushing forward.
Basile kisses his coach after making it to the final.
Have fought two very well-known fighters in his last two fights, Basile faced a fellow relative unknown fighter, Adrian Gomboc of Slovenia, in the semi-final. (Basile was ranked 29th while Gomboc, 32). Both fighters were 21 years of age and equally hungry for success.
All day long, commentator Neil Adams had said that Basile was not just a good thrower, he was also a very tactical fighter and this aspect of his game was on full display in this semi-final match, which was won by penalties. Despite all odds, Basile was through to the final of the Olympic Games.
Basile ended the day just as he started it, with a stunning drop-down throw for ippon
He couldn’t have faced a tougher fighter in the gold medal match: The then-reigning World Champion An of South Korea. Basile, who clearly wasn’t fazed by An, made short work of him by throwing him with a very low, drop seoi-otoshi that had the Korean flat on his back. Ippon! And the gold medal was Basile’s.