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Travis Stevens pins his way into the semifinals of 81kg judo

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In his third Olympics, Travis Stevens is just one win away from his first medal.


The U.S. judoka, who is seeded fifth, won his first three matches during the preliminary rounds of the men's 81kg tournament on Tuesday. Two of those matches – a Round of 16 battle with Uzbekistan's Shaxzod Sobirov and a quarterfinal duel with Bulgaria's Ivaylo Ivanov – ended when Stevens held down his opponent for 20 seconds to score an immediate victory by ippon. Ivaylo is the world No. 4.



Stevens previously made it to the semifinals of the London Games but lost to Germany's Ole Bischof there. The loss moved him into the Bronze Medal Match, where he was defeated by Canada's Antoine Valois-Fortier. A medal in Rio would be Stevens' first at the Olympics.


The U.S. has never won a gold medal in men's judo. The last American male to win a medal of any color was Jimmy Pedro, the current USA Judo coach, at the 2004 Games. If Stevens wins in the semifinal, he will be guaranteed at least silver. If he loses, he will compete in one of two Bronze Medal Matches (and could potentially face Valois-Fortier once again).


The final block will start at 2:30 p.m. ET and will stream live on NBCOlympics.com. Stevens' opponent will be world No. 1 Avtandil Tchrikishvili of Georgia. Tchrikishvili won a world title in 2014.


Valois-Fortier will be also be competing in the final block. The 2012 bronze medalist lost to Russia's Khasan Khalmurzaev in the quarterfinals and will fight in the repechage for a shot at a second bronze medal.


Upset of the day

In the Round of 32 in men's 81kg, El Savador's Juan Turcios pulled off the day's biggest upset when he took down Greece's Roman Moustopoulos.


At the end of the Olympic qualification period, Moustopoulos was ranked No. 9 in the world in the weight class; Turcios was much further down the list in 79th.


An unfazed Turcios, who already had a waza-ari on the board, scored an ippon to take the surprise victory.


63kg favorite advances

As expected, world No. 1 Tina Trstenjak found her way into the women's 63kg semifinals.


The Slovenian, who won her first world title in 2015, finished the Olympic qualification period with more ranking points than any other judoka.


After winning her opening match by just a single yuko, Trstenjak asserted her dominance in the quarterfinals by pinning China's Yang Junxia for an ippon.


Brazil eyes another medal

Trstenjak 's opponent in the semifinals will be Brazil's Mariana Silva.


Silva's quarterfinal match with Yarden Gerbi of Israel went into a golden score period, with Silva getting the yuko after about two minutes of extended time.


Brazil entered the Olympics with high expectations for medals in judo, particularly on the women's side, but was shut out of the podium on the first two days. Rafaela Silva won gold on Day 3, and Mariana Silva will attempt to make it two in-a-row during the final block.


Here's a look at the matches coming up in today's final block. Rankings from the end of the Olympic qualification period are included.


Men's 81kg semifinal matches

No. 1 Avtandil Tchrikishvili (GEO) vs. No. 5 Travis Stevens (USA)

No. 10 Sergiu Toma (UAE) vs. No. 6 Khasan Khalmurzaev (RUS)


Men's 81kg repechage matches

No. 35 Matteo Marconcini (ITA) vs. No. 4 Ivaylo Ivanov (BUL)

No. 2 Takanori Nagase (JPN) vs. No. 3 Antoine Valois-Fortier (CAN)


Women's 63kg semifinals matches

No. 1 Tina Trstenjak (SLO) vs. No. 16 Mariana Silva (BRA)

No. 2 Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA) vs. No. 3 Miku Tashiro (JPN)


Women's 63kg repechage matches

No. 10 Yang Junxia (CHN) vs. No. 4 Yarden Gerbi (ISR)

No. 8 Anicka van Emden (NED) vs. No. 6 Kathrin Unterwurzacher (AUT)




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