RIO DE JANEIRO – Shohei Ono marked his debut at the World Judo Championships with victory in the 73-kg final to give Japan its third men’s gold medal in as many days on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old Ono beat London Olympic bronze medalist Ugo Legrand of France with a superb win in the final, scoring a yuko from an uchi-mata and sealing the win with a flashing hane-goshi for ippon.
“I just had to show everything I have been doing until now,” said Ono, who won all six of his matches by ippon. “This is not the finish line. It is from now that it gets really hard.
“I want to be a wrestler that keeps on winning and comes home from Rio de Janeiro (with a gold medal).”
Ono’s victory came on the heels of wins by Naohisa Takato (60 kg) on Monday and Masashi Ebinuma (66 kg) on Tuesday. It also marked the first time Japanese men have won three lightweight classes consecutively at the worlds in 40 years.
Japan won all six men’s weight categories at the 1973 worlds in Lausanne.
Also in the men’s 73-kg class, Riki Nakaya had to be stretchered off and taken to the hospital after suffering a concussion in a defeat in the quarterfinals to Mongolia’s Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal.
In the women’s draw, Anzu Yamamoto lost in the third-place playoff in the 57-kg class as Japan’s women failed to medal for the first time at these championships.
In the same category, Rafaela Silva gave Brazil its first women’s gold medal at worlds, beating Marti Malloy of the United States.
Silva, ranked fourth in the world, won by ippon less than a minute into the fight at the Maracanazinho Arena.
In the semifinals Silva defeated No. 1-ranked Automne Pavia of France.