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Judo at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games:

Women's Half-Heavyweight

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Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing Science and Technology University Gymnasium, Beijing
Date Started: August 14, 2008
Date Finished: August 14, 2008
Format: Two single-elimination pools, with winner of each pool advanced to the final. All judoka losing to the finalists in each pool advanced to repêchage pools, with the winners of the repêchage pools earning bronze medals.

Gold: CHN Yang Xiuli
Silver: CUB Yalennis Castillo
Bronze: FRA Stéphanie Possamai
KOR Jeong Gyeong-Mi


Cuba’s [Yurisel Laborde] had won the 2005 and 2007 World Championships but at the Pan American Judo Championships in May 2008 in Miami, Florida, she defected to the United States and was not available to compete for Cuba at Beijing. At first, although it was known she had disappeared, it was not certain if she had defected. But a week later she retained immigration lawyer Wilifredo “Willy” Allen and applied for political asylum. Laborde commented on her defection, “A Cuban athlete’s life is a hard, complicated life with a lot of sacrifice involved. You don’t see the fruits of your labor. I played for 12 years on the national team, and I was never able to get a home or a car. I was twice the champion of the world, and I couldn’t have a home or a car.”

In Laborde’s absence the class was relatively open, although Japan’s [Sae Nakazawa] had been runner-up at the last two Worlds. But Nakazawa lost her opening round match to Italy’s [Lucia Morico], and would not even get to the repêchages. Cuba had selected [Yalennis Castillo] to replace Laborde. She made it to the final where she faced China’s [Yang Xiuli]. Castillo had no international record while Yang had won only a bronze at the 2006 Asian Games. The final was long, dull, and passive. It went to extra time and after five minutes of golden score time, no points had been scored. Yang was declared the winner by yusei-gachi in the hantei. The two bronze medalists were [Stéphanie Possamai] (FRA) and [Jeong Gyeong-Mi] (KOR), who had also been the bronze medalists at the 2007 Worlds.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Yang Xiuli 24 China CHN Gold
2 Yalennis Castillo 22 Cuba CUB Silver
3T Jeong Gyeong-Mi 23 South Korea KOR Bronze
3T Stéphanie Possamai 28 France FRA Bronze
5T Esther San Miguel 33 Spain ESP
5T Edinanci da Silva 31 Brazil BRA
7T Pürevjargalyn Lkhamdegd 21 Mongolia MGL
7T Heide Wollert 26 Germany GER
9T Sagat Abikeyeva 27 Kazakhstan KAZ
9T Lucia Morico 32 Italy ITA
9T Marylise Lévesque 25 Canada CAN
9T Michelle Rogers 32 Great Britain GBR
13T Divya Tewar 24 India IND
13T Vera Moskalyuk 26 Russia RUS
15 Yelena Proskurakova 23 Kyrgyzstan KGZ
16T Stephanie Grant 21 Australia AUS
16T Houda Miled 21 Tunisia TUN
16T Sae Nakazawa 25 Japan JPN
16T Vivian Yusuf 24 Nigeria NGR
20T Lorena Briceño 30 Argentina ARG
20T Maryna Pryshchepa 25 Ukraine UKR