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Judo coach gives thumbs up to Ogata

Kyodo

Japan women’s judo coach Mitsutoshi Nanjo offered praise on Monday to 22-year-old Akari Ogata, who claimed her first title at the All Japan Women’s Judo Championship by beating heavyweight Megumi Tachimoto the previous day.

“It is exciting to see a young wrestler perform that well as we look toward the coming three years (leading up to the Olympics),” Nanjo said, after returning to Japan from the Asian championships that were held in Bangkok.

Nanjo stopped short of saying Ogata is a lock in the 78-kg category for this summer’s world championships in Rio de Janeiro, but indicated she has definitely “moved closer.”

“It was somewhat unexpected for our front-runner (Tachimoto) for the national squad to come out on the losing end,” added Nanjo.

Sunday’s national championship, which was the first major domestic tournament since coaches on the women’s national team were involved in an abuse scandal at the start of the year, served as a world qualifier for the over-78-kg class.

But it was the first time in 14 years someone outside that category won the crown at the open-weight meet. The squad for the worlds will be named following the All Japan weight-class invitational next month.

Nanjo was recently appointed the new women’s head coach after 15 wrestlers accused former coach Ryuji Sonoda of physical and verbal abuse in a joint complaint.