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Shohei Ono is the coolest judoka on earth

27 Aug 2019 16:45

 Mark Pickering - IJF    IJF Gabriela Sabau / International Judo Federation

Olympic champion Ono Shohei won a rematch of the Rio 2016 final as Olympic silver medallist Rustam Orujov of Azerbaijan finished second best once again in a major final. Ono captured his third world title as he added to his 2013 and 2015 titles in his first appearance at the Worlds in four years.

The 27-year-old super man is truly in a class of his own and extended his winning run to 28 consecutive contests on the international stage. The owner of the gold backpatch claimed also red backpatch by ippon with his devastating uchi-mata to a thunderous ovation and showed no emotions at all in a throwback to his Rio 2016 victory. Ono made everything look simple and showed the world why he’s regarded as judo’s pound-for-pound king.

In the first semi-final Orujov narrowly defeated European Games bronze medallist Hidayat Heydarov (AZE) by a waza-ari score in the closing seconds to advance to his second World Championships final.

In the second semi-final ashi-waza ace Denis Iartcev (RUS) felt the full force of Ono in what was a first-time meeting in individual competition with the pair having met once before in the 2014 World Team Championships final and the Russian had come out on top on that day. Ono scored a waza-ari from his favoured uchi-mata and held down the crafty Russian for 10 seconds to secure a place in the final.  

In the first bronze medal contest Iartcev floored Ekaterinburg Grand Slam bronze medallist and world number 29 Behruzi Khojazoda (TJK) for a waza-ari at the halfway point and the man with the educated feet held on to win his country’s second medal of the competition to ensure another late night for the sizable group of media from Russia. For the first time since 2014 Russia takes a medal in this weight category U73kg.  

In the second bronze medal contest Heydarov and former Junior World Championships bronze medallist Somon Makhmadbekov (TJK) went to battle for over 11 minutes. The pair fought to a stalemate for the opening four minutes and needed an incredible seven minutes and 47 seconds of added time to produce a winner as the Azeri caught his opponent for a waza-ari to repeat his 2018 result. Only in 2007 Tajikistan had a bronze medallist at the World Championships, also U73kg by Rasul Boqiev. Today they were very close to another stunt but it was Heydarov who again won a bronze medal like in 2018 in Baku. The qualification for Azerbaijan is by far not decided in this category

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  • Shohei Ono (JPN) - World Championships Tokyo (2019, JPN) - © IJF Marina Mayorova, International Judo Federation
  • Shohei Ono (JPN) - World Championships Tokyo (2019, JPN) - © IJF Emanuele Di Feliciantonio, International Judo Federation
  • Miklós Ungvári (HUN), Shohei Ono (JPN) - World Championships Tokyo (2019, JPN) - © IJF Gabriela Sabau, International Judo Federation

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