LONDON – Reigning world champion Masashi Ebinuma reached the semifinals of the men’s judo 66-kg competition after winning a controversial decision Sunday at the London Games.
There were, however, more tears of despair for Japan’s women on the second day after Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Misato Nakamura crashed out in the women’s 52-kg class, losing her first match in the second round to Beijing silver medalist An Kum Ae of North Korea.
A roar of boos rained out from a confused crowd when the three judges raised three blue flags in favor of South Korea’s Cho Jun Ho following the overtime golden score, where Ebinuma’s inner-thigh throw had been disallowed after further video inspection.
In what looked like a parody of “The Three Stooges,” the three judges then overturned their initial ruling after a short conference, raising three white flags for Ebinuma.
Ebinuma, who won his first world championship in Paris last year, had too much weaponry for Canada’s Sasha Mehmedovic in his first match, rattling off a hip and shoulder throw for yuko and waza-ari points before ending it in dramatic fashion with an inner-thigh sweep.
The 22-year-old Tochigi native outlasted Sergey Lim of Kazakhstan in a lung-busting second match, beating his opponent with a left-handed “seoinage” shoulder throw with 58 seconds remaining in the golden score period.
Ebinuma, a winner of three consecutive titles at the national invitational weight-class championships, was set to face Georgia’s Lasha Shavdatuashvili in the semifinals.
Nakamura, the world champion in 2009 and 2011, could find no key openings against An, the same opponent she lost to in the semifinals at the Beijing Games.
An scored a waza-ari on an outer leg trip almost immediately, and Nakamura appeared to have scored waza-ari after 1 minute, 38 seconds, but it was changed to yuko after judges reviewed video. The Japanese judoka came within 10-2 on two shido against the North Korean.
“This has been a big miscalculation,” said Japan women’s coach Ryuji Sonoda. “Had things gone as planned, we would have had two (gold medals). At least we expected to have one. Having none at this point is a hard pill to swallow.”
On Saturday, Hiroaki Hiraoka won the men’s 60-kg silver, but tournament favorite Tomoko Fukumi saw her dream of Olympic gold shattered as she finished outside the medals in fifth place in the women’s 48-kg class.