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Soichi Hashimoto returns to glory to complete Masters hat-trick
13 Dec 2019 12:50
Former world champion Hashimoto Soichi of Japan won the World Judo Masters for the third time as he returned to being Japan’s number two behind Olympic and world champion Ono Shohei (JPN). Hashimoto was awarded the victory after Zagreb Grand Prix winner Tohar Butbul (ISR) could not compete in the -73kg final due to injury. The Park 24 judoka topped the Masters podium as he did in 2016 and 2017 and will hang on to his slim chances of making the Olympics team with major selections still likely for him in 2020.
In the first semi-final Hashimoto defeated Budapest Grand Prix winner Akil Gjakova (KOS) after the judoka from Kosovo suffered an elbow injury from a ippon-seoi-nage by the Japanese star.
In the second semi-final Butbul shocked Osaka Grand Slam winner Ebinuma Masashi (JPN) with a waza-ari score from a o-uchi-gari to deny a widely expected all-Japanese final.
The first bronze medal was won by Olympic silver medallist Rustam Orujov (AZE) as Gjakova could not compete due to injury.
The second bronze medal went to Ebinuma who showed off his sublime judo to at least end his day on a relative high as he launched Montreal Grand Prix silver medallist Victor Scvortov (UAE) with a classical seoi-nage for a picturesque ippon. Ebinuma could not follow up on his Osaka gold medal but salvaged bronze after 14 seconds of added time as judo’s homeland won half of the medals available in the U73kg category in Qingdao.
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