RIO DE JANEIRO – Young judoka hopeful Naohisa Takato delivered his country’s first gold medal of the world championships on Monday.
The 20-year-old took the men’s-60 kg title beating Mongolia’s Amartuvshin Dashdavaa in the final and proved the perfect riposte to a Mongolian having denied one of his celebrated compatriots in the previous final.
Judoka Haruna Asami’s hopes of a third successive world title in the 48-kg category were dashed as Mongolia’s Asian champion Urantsetseg Munkhbat beat her in the final.
Munkhbat, 23, had never even won a medal in a global competition before this, but she showed few nerves in taking gold with an ippon in immobilizing Asami.
It was quite a turnaround in her fortunes as the last time they met in competition Asami came out on top in the semifinals of the Paris tournament in February.
Asami, 25, was competing in only her third tournament of the year, and came in to the championships unbeaten, having won in both Paris and Tokyo.
The opening category of the championships was a great disappointment for the hosts as their Olympic champion Sarah Menezes could only take the bronze along with Belgium’s Charline van Snick.
However, Menezes, despite once again missing out on the elusive world title and taking bronze for the third time, celebrated as if it was a gold in front of a crowd that had grown sizable through the day with entrance costing nothing.
Meanwhile, heavyweight star Teddy Riner has set his sights on a sixth title.
The 203-cm Frenchman, winner of four heavyweight and one openweight crowns, is already a legend of the sport at only 24.
He is set to break all records having already become the most successful fighter of all time in his division.
And there is not likely to be any letup for his foes any time soon as Riner says he is addicted to winning.
“I have a subscription to gold (medals) and I like that,” said the Guadeloupe-born Parisian, who usually weighs around 130kg.
“I can’t imagine myself without the gold medal, especially given how hard we (in the French team) train.
“The price of training, the price of pain is so high when I’m on the mat that I don’t want to leave anything behind.”
For Riner, it is a return to the site of his first world triumph in 2007, when still a fresh-faced teenager.
“It’s all a sign, that’s where I flipped a switch, that’s where everything started for me,” added Riner.