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Japan wins 8 of 9 finals at Asian Championships in Hong Kong
27 May 2017 12:30
Japan became the winner of the Asian Championships in Hong Kong, capturing eight gold medals in the process. Japan's efficiency was evident by winning eight of nine finals. The remaining six titles were won by Korea (3), Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Iran was a bit unlucky with two lost finals, but Korea also lost 4, Mongolia, 3, and Kazakhstan, 3.
The first and only gold medal for Mongolia was captured by lightweight Urantsetseg Munkhbat. This time she bested Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh, now fighting for Kazakhstan, in the final U48kg. Olympic runner-up Jeong Bo-Kyeong (KOR) won bronze. After the gold of Mongolia, Japan dominated with six gold medals. On Friday victors were Ai Shishime, who retained her title, Tsukasa Yoshida, and Nami Nabekura. No gold for last year’s champion, Sumiya Dorjsuren (MGL), who didn’t fight her bronze medal bout due to an injury.
On Saturday Yoko Ono defended her title successfully U70kg, whilst Shori Hamada and Nami Inamori completed the success for the Japanese women’s team with their sixth gold medal. Inamori defeated last year’s winner, Kim Min-Jeong, in the final in a weak field of 7 judoka. Only Funa Tonaki fell short after her losses against Galbadrakh and Kang (KOR) in the bronze bout.
In the men’s division, Japan started well with gold for Naohisa Takato. Then Korea struck with expected gold medals for An Baul U66kg and An Changrim U73kg. An Baul won his category in a field of 26, which was the best seeded division in Hong Kong. An Changrim regained his title of 2015. In these strong categories Japanese youngsters battled with the experienced Koreans and Kazakh and Mongolian opponents who took the medals, but it was still bronze for Fujisawa and Tatsukawa.
On Saturday Sotaro Fujiwara (19) became the youngest winner of the tournament when he claimed the gold U81kg against strong Iranian Saeid Mollaei. Korean Olympian Lee Seung-Su lost for bronze. Tajikistan celebrated the gold of Komronshoh Ustopiriyon, who defended his title again. Last year Ustopiriyon won the first and only Asian title for his country, ever. Also surprising was the loss of Dong-Han Gwak (KOR) for bronze.
Maxim Rakov won the gold U100kg; the 31-year old hasn’t forgotten how to win the title and the smart Kazakh bested Kim Hyeon-Cheol (KOR) in the final. Rakov defeated Kim in spectacular fashion, attacking him non-stop -- and nearly getting armlocked in the process -- before throwing him with a spinning hip technique in Golden Score. A great performance from this former World Champion from Kazakhstan.
The heavyweight final at the 2017 Asian Judo Championships was a good match up between Kim (KOR) and Shichinohe (JPN). Interestingly, both men tried drop seoi-nage. Perhaps they are honing their drop-seois for a future battle against Riner (FRA)! The match was eventually decided in Golden Score via groundwork. Pretty exciting match. The heavyweight gold was achieved by Kim Sung-Min, the only final where Japan was defeated. Ryu Shichinohe couldn’t defend last year’s title of Kokoro Kageura and took silver.
With 244 judoka from 29 countries the distribution was okay, but the top athletes from Japan stayed away, such as the World Championships team. Only Takato is expected in Budapest in August. The Koreans did send their team which was a useful practice and warning that there is still much work to do. China couldn’t impress with silver and two bronze, but is expected to have popular star Cheng Xunzhao at the World Championships.
Komronshoh Ustopiriyon (TJK) is a breakout star from a country not particularly known for judo. He is among a group of global athletes supported by the IJF who have done really well. Here, he wins the -90kg gold medal at the 2017 Asian Judo Championships. There's no score but he does all the attacking and in the end wins in Golden Score when his opponent gets his third shido and thus, hansoku-make. This effectively gives him an ippon.
World Junior silver medallist Sotaro Fujiwara (JPN) was the Japanese representative at the -81kg division. In the final he went up against the tough Mollaei (IRI), who did most of the attacks but ultimately it was the Japanese who scored with a perfectly-timed sasae-tsurikomi-ashi that scored waza-ari and won him the match.
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Perrine Saint Etienne (FRA)
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