LONDON – One mistake cost Barbadian Kyle Maxwell a shot in the third round of men’s 73kg judo competition here at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Inside the packed ExCel arena where a very knowledgeable and lively crowd created an absolutely electric atmosphere, Maxwell went down to world No. 2 Riki Nakaya of Japan by an ippon. He was pinned to the mat, giving up maximum points.
Nakaya went on to win the silver medal a few hours later, losing to Russia’s Isaev Mansur and the bronze medal went to France’s Ugo Legrand.
To that point, just over two minutes into the fight, Maxwell had been doing a very good job of frustrating Nakaya as Barbados Olympic Association officials Steve Stoute (president); vice president Ralph Johnson; secretary general Erskine Simmons; chef de mission Cammie Burke and Dr Adrian Lorde, the team medic, supported from the stands.
Maxwell’s parents Lionel and Roseanne, and sister Khadija also sat in the stands, waving a very large Barbados flag when the youngster was introduced.
“The result is disappointing,” Maxwell told NATIONSPORT.
“However, I am happy he didn’t throw me for sure. He held me down and he is very good at mat work. What I can say is, I somewhat believe he was worried. He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know what I can do. He doesn’t know what style I can fight. He was cautious and he realized he almost got countered when he went in for a Seoi nagi (lifting shoulder throw).”
That caution came about because of the difference in height, which played a major role in the strategy Maxwell and his coach Ian Weithers had decided on prior to the fight.
“We knew that he was strong on the mat, but we saw a weakness that we thought we could exploit. He wasn’t comfortable against tall players. He is 5’6”. Kyle is 6’2”. We saw that whenever he went against a tall player who went over the top he had some challenges,” Weithers explained.
“So our strategy was stay off the mat, over the top grips to control him, and keep the gripping exchanges short – 15 to 20 seconds – and build the match from there. [With] Each 20-second start over, go from there and look for the opportunities for throwing.
“Kyle executed it, I thought, well in the initial part of the match. The guy was tentative because he saw Kyle’s height. He tried an attack and was very, very out of position. I was very happy with that because I knew that the strategy would work.”
After realizing that his attempted throw did not work, Nakaya became even more cautions, but then came the error.
“When I went to attack him, I missed his leg. He pulled down with his right arm; I lost balance and went forward onto my knees and hands. From there, it is mat work. He has very good mat work skills and I was trying to avoid it, but I was unsuccessful,” the 22-year-old said.
Unlike others who qualified with one race or a boxing match, Maxwell took two long years gaining the required number of points for London 2012. It is an experience he wouldn’t change for the world.
“Not many persons get to come to the Olympics. This is a privilege and honour to be here among the world-class athletes and to have a world ranking alone is really something you have to work at and have commitment to. As far as I can see it, there is nothing that can make me happier than being here,” he said.
Now that his participation in the games is over, Maxwell, who has been in England for almost a month training, will return to Barbados and his studies at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill before returning to the competition circuit.
On Sunday, Guyana’s Raul Lall was thrown by Saudi Eisa Majrashi after just 12 seconds in the men’s 60kg class.