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Shohei Ono prolongs Grand Prix title in Düsseldorf
20 Feb 2016 19:25
Japanese World champion Ono Shohei returned to action in Dusseldorf and successfully retained his 2015 Dusseldorf title in a showing which sent out a message to his U73kg rivals as he closes in on his first Olympic Games. Ono, who missed the end of the 2015 season with a back injury, competed for the first time since winning his second world title last year and was unrivaled in Germany.
Ono opposed world number one Rustam Orujov of Azerbaijan in the U73kg final in their first meeting. The Japanese prodigy went ahead with a waza-ari from an uchi-mata which was the only score of the contest as the Japanese fighter showed that he is ready to claim his spot at Rio 2016.
In the first semi-final Ono defeated world number one An Changrim of Korea with an uchi-mata earning a waza-ari score and AN was unable to respond with a score of his own. Ono was more active and was a comfortable winner as he overcame the challenge of one of his greatest rivals going into this Olympic Games and even Tokyo 2020. In the second semi-final Orujov surpassed Georgian Olympic champion Lasha Shavdatuashvil. London 2012’s gold medallist at U66kg struck first with a yuko from a makikomi effort but his Azerbaijan rival fought back and registered a waza-ari which was still the biggest score of the contest after five minutes.
The first bronze medal was claimed by Shavdatuashvili who defeated former European champion Rok Draksic of Slovenia. While there was one Olympic champion on the mat, there was also an Olympic in the coaching chair as -63kg hero Urska Zolnir gave instructions to Draksic. Shavdatuashvili led by a yuko and sealed his fate by throwing with a stop-start uchi-mata as his Slovenian opponent could not get off the technique.
The second bronze medal was won by An who inflated his team’s already impressive medal haul as he bested world number 151 Narankhuu Khadbaatar (MGL). AN bided his time and produced a magical moment at the halfway point as he countered a failed drop seoi-nage as Narankhuu left his neck exposed and An seized the shime-waza opportunity and the Mongolian tapped out immediately.
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