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Asami collects first title at All-Japan invitational

Kyodo

Haruna Asami scored an ippon victory against Tamami Yamazaki in the women’s 48-kg final to capture her first title at the All-Japan invitational weight class championships on Saturday.

London Olympic silver medalist Riki Nakaya won his second consecutive title at 73 kg at the tournament, which doubles as the final qualifier for the world judo championships in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

The 25-year-old Asami scored yuko points with an outer-leg sweep and body drop against Yamazaki before deploying a “seoinage” shoulder throw to end the match after 3 minutes, 33 seconds.

“So many people have been supporting this past year, and I am so glad I could show my gratitude with a huge victory,” said Asami, who lost the chance to compete in London when she crashed out in the first round of last year’s invitational.

“Next I will aim to win my third straight title at the world championships. I can’t really think about the next Olympics yet. I feel like I have to take the lead for Japan at 48 kg.”

Nakaya sent Yuki Nakayama to the mat with an inner-leg sweep in the final before administering a side control hold to win the match by ippon, but admitted his techniques weren’t quick enough.

“I was slow to use my techniques so I got shido reductions (for passivity). I have to work on that. But I was determined I would win the title today. I have struggled at times as the person everyone is out to beat, but I’m glad I could get over the hurdle. My next goal is to repeat at the world championships,” he said.

Masaaki Fukuoka upset London Olympic bronze medalist Masashi Ebinuma in the men’s 66-kg final and Ryo Kawabata took the honors for the first time in the men’s 60-kg category.

On the women’s side, Kana Abe emerged the winner at 63 kg for the first time in two years. Yuki Hashimoto triumphed over Yuka Nishida to win the 52-kg final, while Nozomi Hirai took the title at 57 kg. It was the first title for each.

It was the first time that new rules, featuring the use of only one referee and no flag decisions, were employed at a domestic tournament.