Czech star Lukas Krpalek was crowned the new world heavyweight champion after a thrilling last individual contest at the World Championships. Olympic silver medallist Harasawa Hisayoshi of Japan, the world number four, was spurred on by the highly-charged crowd but it was world number two and Olympic champion U100kg Krpalek who had the advantage.
In a battle of attrition the 2014 world champion in the weight below secured his legacy as he became the first judoka to win world gold in both the -100kg category and the +100kg category. Four minutes of golden score was required to determine the new champion and it was Harasawa who was handed the disqualification in the scoreless final after being passive.
Krpalek was on top throughout the contest while Harasawa was hesitant as he just flirted with the idea of attacking and was in and out with teases including his familiar uchi-mata. Japan’s number one heavyweight had experienced issues with his judogi and was eventually told to undo his belt and to fix his judogi to continue and he could not match the workrate of his opponent achieved the result since moving up at the end of 2016 and will be a leading contender next year in the same venue at Tokyo 2020.
After winning his second world title the Jihlava native went down to his knees and kissed the mat. Krpalek looked towards the rows and rows of photographers and raised both arms in celebration before opening his judogi and mouth to pose for the media.
In the first semi-final 18-year-old Kim Minjong (KOR) was humbled by Krpalek who beat the highly-touted teenager in golden score. Krpalek, who is one of the best judoka on the ground, wrapped up the former Cadet World Championships winner and World Team Championships bronze medallist with a tate-shiho-gatame in added time for 10 seconds and a match-winning waza-ari score.
In the second semi-final defending champion Guram Tushishvili (GEO) lost to Harasawa in a major upset to guarantee that the red backpatch would change hands. Tushishvili attempted a sode-tsurikomi-goshi to panic the Japanese number one and then tried a sasae as he peppered the home heavyweight with attacks. The Georgian was overzealous, as has been the case before, and was countered by Harasawa with te-waza for a waza-ari score and the Japanese held down the champion for 10 seconds to win their first meeting and to bring the near capacity crowd to their feet.
In the first bronze medal contest Kim upset double Olympic bronze medallist Rafael Silva (BRA) with a heroic effort. Kim, who turns 19 on Sunday when he will be a member of his country’s squad for the team event, went the distance with the Brazilian man-mountain who is one of the tallest and most experienced judoka in the +100kg category. The gutsy heavyweight flattened the South American after two and a half minutes of golden score to a big reception from the crowd.
In the second bronze medal contest world number eight Roy Meyer (NED) stunned Tushishvili as he powered the favourite over with a tai-otoshi to clinch his first World Championships medal. Georgia’s heavyweight frontman has a tendency to finish first or fifth and that unwelcome pattern continued today in the penultimate contest on day seven. Meyer savoured every second and played to the crowd as he left the tatami having bolstered the Netherlands’ plentiful medal haul.