Unheralded youngster Takeshi Ojitani scored an ippon victory in the final against Daiki Kamikawa in the open-weight class all-Japan championship on Tuesday, denying the London Olympian of his first national title.
The 21-year-old Ojitani sent Kamikawa to the mat at 4 minutes, 18 seconds with an “osotogari” outer-leg trip in the tournament at Nippon Budokan, which doubled as a qualifier for the 100 and over 100-kg classes — the two heaviest weight categories — for this summer’s world championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
“I have been able to achieve one of my goals after overcoming trials and hardships,” said Ojitani, who won his first national title.
“I feel like this will give me the awareness as the all-Japan champion to motivate myself forward to win tournaments. I’d like to aim for a gold medal at the Olympics (in two years),” he said.
Takanori Nagase, who will represent Japan in the 81-kg class at the worlds, came third after losing to Ojitani in the semifinals. Kenta Nishigata also took a podium spot in third.
Ryu Shichinohe and last year’s runner-up Hisayoshi Harasawa, both of whom were seeking their first title, crashed out in the quarterfinals.
Ojitani, who weighs in at 136 kg, deployed the same throw for ippon against Harasawa in the final eight. The Osaka native who attends Tokai University is the first university student to win a championship since Satoshi Ishii in 2008.
Kamikawa and Shichinohe, largely based on experience, were later selected in the heaviest weight category for the worlds in August. For the first time, Japan has decided not to send anyone to the worlds in the 100-kg class and focus its attention on building up the category for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.