RIO DE JANEIRO - Undefeated all year, Khasan Khalmurzaev is now the Olympic champion.
The sixth-seeded Russian beat Travis Stevens of the United States to win the judo gold medal Tuesday in the 81-kilogram division. It was Russia's second gold in judo at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
"I know (Stevens) and he is strong," the 22-year-old Khalmurzaev said. "So I did all I can to win this gold medal.
"I saw on TV that I am the winner of these games and I can't believe it."
In the final, Khalmurzaev and Stevens fought for control of each other's uniform. Stevens appeared to have a lapse of concentration which allowed Khalmurzaev a slight gripping advantage, and that was enough to let the Russian throw Stevens for an ippon score to automatically end the contest.
Stevens then crouched over, his hands covering his face.
Until the final, Stevens had looked unbeatable. The Pan American Games champion overcame longtime rival Avtandili Tchrikishvili with a stranglehold so powerful that the Georgian was forced to tap out, leaving him in tears.
The bronze medals were won by Sergiu Toma of the United Arab Emirates and Takanori Nagase of Japan.
Despite the widespread Russian doping scandal, the country's entire judo team was allowed to compete in Rio. Russian President Vladimir Putin is the honorary president of the International Judo Federation, the sport's governing body.
"We watched the final announcement that we would be allowed to go," Khalmurzaev said, "but the goal was always just to keep training."
In the women's 63-kilogram division, top-seeded Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia took gold, following in the footsteps of London Games champion Urska Zolnir in the same category. Zolnir is now on Trstenjak's coaching team.
Trstenjak beat second-seeded Clarisse Agbegnenou of France. The women's bronze medals were won by Yarden Gerbi of Israel and Anicka Van Emden of the Netherlands.