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Ueno takes down Tanaka in all-Japanese final

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo News

Yoshie Ueno beat Miki Tanaka in an all-Japanese women’s 63-kg final at the world judo championships Saturday, marking an auspicious occasion in appropriate fashion with the defense of her title as host Japan claimed its 100th overall gold medal since the tournament began in 1956.

Japan swept all three weight classes on this day in both the men’s and women’s competitions.

It was Kaori Matsumoto who set off the champagne celebrations with her victory over Portugal’s Telma Monteiro in the women’s 57 kg before Ueno and Hiroyuki Akimoto (73 kg) followed suit for the men during a Japanese gold rush on the third day of the championships.

Ueno battled it out in the semis against Dutchwoman Anicka van Emden, winning the bout on the judges’ decision to make the final after the pair fought to a scoreless draw at Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

In the final against her countrywoman Tanaka, another test of steely nerves awaited Ueno as neither woman could execute a decisive technique for a clear cut victory.

But Ueno got the judges’ flag in the end as she proved to be the aggressor, dictating the match on her terms throughout.

Matsumoto had her work cut out in the final against Monteiro, needing almost the full eight minutes in regulation and overtime before she sent her opponent onto her back with a thud, using a slick outer leg trip for ippon with just 21 seconds remaining.

Akimoto, meanwhile, became the second in his family to win a medal at the worlds — his of the brightest color — following his father Katsunori, who took the bronze in the light-middle division in 1975.

Hiroyuki defeated Dex Elmont of the Netherlands in the final with an ironclad submission technique with 3:26 remaining.

But his fiercest brawl of the day undoubtedly came against two-time defending champion Wang Ki Chun of South Korea in the semifinals. Judges ruled in favor of the Japanese judoka, who came close to pinning his opponent in overtime.

“Starting with the 1956 Tokyo meet and this being the 52nd year since Tokyo has hosted the tournament, as well as it being the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jigoro Kano (the founder of Kodokan judo), getting this 100th gold makes me very happy,” said All-Japan Judo Federation President Haruki Uemura.