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Ono tops Olympic silver medalist Nakaya in 73-kg final

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo

Shohei Ono staged an upset against London Olympic silver medalist Riki Nakaya to win the men’s 73-kg final on the second day of the Tokyo Grand Slam on Saturday.

A day after Japan pulled off a gold-medal sweep of the medals, representatives from the host nation reached three finals and won two of the four weight classes contested at Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

Twenty-year-old Ono, this year’s Kodokan Cup winner, was unstoppable with his fiery foot techniques as he scored ippon victories in all five of his matches en route to his first Grand Slam title victory.

In the final, Ono dumped Nakaya, who has been struggling with injuries to his right elbow and right hand, to the mat with a minor outer-leg sweep for waza-ari before sending his opponent crashing again with a major outside trip to end it.

“I am constantly trying to perfect a style of scoring ippon with my judo,” said Ono. “I was able to keep the pressure on throughout. Nakaya-san has very good submission techniques, so it was important to keep the momentum going. I focused on my hand positions and foot techniques.”

Nakaya defeated countryman Yuki Nishiyama with a waza-ari when he rolled his opponent with a powerful seoinage shoulder throw while grappling on the mat to set up his meeting with Ono.

“Today, in the end, I did what I should have never have done. I felt that I was really unprepared mentally. It’s a big loss. I was feeling the pressure of being at the top for Japan, but I definitely want to get revenge against him (Ono),” Nakaya said.

In the semifinals, Ono sent Tsagaanbaatar Khashbaatar of Mongolia over his head with a tomoenage sacrifice throw and finished his opponent off with an inner-thigh throw for ippon.

London Olympic champion Kim Jae Bum of South Korea beat Ivan Vorobev of Russian after his opponent received two shido reductions for passivity in the men’s 81-kg final. Defending champion Tomohiro Kawakami could only manage a third-place finish for Japan.

Seventeen-year-old Megumi Tsugane scored a yuko point on countrywoman Kana Abe to beat the Kodokan Cup winner in the women’s 63-kg final.

“I wanted to give it my all today with an aggressive style of judo,” said Tsugane, who also won her first title. “Next year I want to keep training hard and continue winning titles.”

Japanese ace Haruka Tachimoto had to settle for silver after falling to Dutchwoman Linda Bolder’s belt-hip throw in overtime in the women’s 70-kg final.

“I felt strong today and got the gold medal. It feels great,” Bolder said.

Thus far, Japan has won three of the men’s and four of the women’s categories in the three-day meet that concludes Sunday.