CHIBA – High school student Sara Asahina won the women’s over-78-kg class in a decision on Saturday, the first day of judo’s Kodokan Cup at Chiba Port Arena.
It was the 17-year-old’s first title at the event that is used to select the squad for next year’s world championships.
“I am the youngest here, so I had nothing to lose, and I fought with the spirit of a challenger,” Asahina said. “If I say I want to be at the Tokyo (2020) Olympics, that could mean I’m overlooking Rio de Janeiro. First of all, I want to be at Rio.”
Tomomi Okamura, a runnerup here last year, won the 78-kg title by ippon, while Karen Nunira triumphed in the 70-kg division. It was the first victory here for all three women.
Among the men, Joshiro Maruyama won the men’s 66-kg class with an ippon victory in the final. The 20-year-old felled Ren Miyazaki with an osotogari major outer reaping move for his first Kodokan Cup title. London Olympic 60-kg silver medalist Hiroaki Hiraoka was knocked out of the competition in the second round.
In the 81-kg final, 20-year-old Takanori Nagase won the final against London Olympian Takahiro Nakai by judge’s decision. It was Nagase’s first championship here. Meanwhile, Shinji Kido won his second straight 60-kg title, and Keiichi Ota won the 73-kg crown for the first time.