The shocks continued in the Olympic judo competition in Beijing on Wednesday as a host of champions past and present saw their gold medal hopes go up in smoke.
This tournament has already been lit up by surprises on previous days with Italian Giulia Quintavalle winning the women''s -57kg category and German Ole Bischof surprising everyone in the men''s -81kg to claim gold.
On Wednesday Ilias Iliadis of Greece, the Athens champion at -81kg four years ago, was the first to fall to veteran Mark Huizinga of the Netherlands in the -90kg division.
The champion from Sydney eight years ago threw Georgian-born Iliadis for the maximum ippon score with an uchi-mata (inner thigh throw).
But Huizinga lasted only one more round as Swiss veteran Sergei Aschwanden proved his undoing countering the Dutchman''s uchi-mata with uchi-mata-gaeshi (inner thigh counter).
Aschwanden, a twice European champion, too fell victim to the curse of the underdog as Algeria''s Amar Benikhlef denied him a semi-final berth.
Benikhleef will meet Yves-Matthieu Dafreville in the last four after the Frenchman emerged from a quarter containing former three-time European champion Valentyn Grekov of Ukraine.
There was also a surprise in the other half of the draw where the 2005 world champion from Japan Hiroshi Izumi was stunned by Andrei Kazusenok of Belarus with kochiki-taioshi (running leg-grab).
Kazusenok then lost to Russian Ivan Pershin, another former European champion, meaning that Izumi, like Iliadis and Huizinga, will not even get a chance to fight for bronze in the repechage.
Georgian world champion Irakli Tsirekidze did survive the cull of champions, though, and will face Pershin, whom he has never lost to, in the semis.
Some of the top women also suffered in the -70kg catetory as world champion Gevrise Emane of France fell at the first hurdle against Spain''s Leire Iglesias, a silver medallist at the European Championships.
The woman who beat the Spaniard in that final in Lisbon, Italy''s Ylenia Scapin, also crashed out, thrown for ippon by Cuba''s Anaysi Hernandez with seoi-otoshi (shoulder drop).
Hernandez''s progress to the semi-finals, where she will confront German Annett Boehm, has helped salvage some pride for the formally dominant Cuban women''s judo team who have only one medal so far in Beijing.
Things were different in the other half of the draw where reigning Olympic champion Masae Ueno of Japan reached the semi-finals to face former world champion Edith Bosch of the Netherlands.
Ueno beat Bosch in the final in Athens four years ago and also defeated her in the semi-final of the World Championships in 2003 in Osaka, on the way to winning her second world crown.
However, Bosch deposed Ueno as world champion in 2005 and has a 2-2 record against the Japanese fighter.
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