Uchishiba claims Japan's third judo gold medal


Masato Uchishiba quickly brought Japan’s gold medal haul to three with an ippon victory over Jozef Krnac of Slovakia in the men’s 66-kg weight category Sunday on the second day of competition at the Athens Olympics.

News photoAtsushi Fujimoto of Japan slides home safely during Sunday’s Olympic preliminary round game against Italy. Japan won 12-0 in seven innings.

But the Japanese team failed to claim another gold-double a day after Ryoko Tani defended her title and Tadahiro Nomura won an unprecedented third straight Olympic gold, as Yuki Yokosawa had to settle for silver after a defeat to China’s Xian Dongmei in the women’s 52-kg final.

The 23-year-old Uchishiba, competing in his first Olympics, won all of his matches through ippon and dealt the decisive blow to Krnac after 3 minutes, 14 seconds at Ano Liossia Olympic Hall.

Bulgarian Georgi Georgiev and Yordanis Arencibia of Cuba were the bronze medalists in the men’s 66-kg class, while Cuba’s Amarilys Savon and Ilse Heylen of Belgium won the bronzes at 52-kg in the women’s matches.

Uchishiba took down Georgiev with a thigh-reaping technique after 43 seconds to make the final in style and deployed a leg trip technique for a huge victory over Russia’s Magomed Dzhafarov to move into the semifinals.

He won an ippon over Jorge Lencina of Argentina in his first match and toppled Mongolia’s Dashdavaa Gantumur after 2 minutes in the second match.

It was Yokosawa’s epic victory in the dying seconds of semifinal against Savon, however, that showed her determination to make it as far as the final.

Savon had almost assured victory with a yuko point as the match drew to a close, only for Yokosawa to throw the Cuban with a perfectly timed flip with just a second remaining to reach the final.

Yokosawa took full advantage of her superior groundwork techniques to knock off the competition as she cruised into the final, where she was pinned by Xian for an ippon.

She breezed through the early matches and held off an overzealous attack by England’s Georgina Singleton in the third round before pinning her opponent for an ippon.

Yokosawa stopped Ri Sang Sim of North Korea with a pin in the first round en route to beating Hortense Diedhiou of Senegal on points in the next match.

Baseball rout

ATHENS (Kyodo) Norihiro Nakamura and Kosuke Fukudome both homered for a combined three runs and Koji Uehara pitched six strong innings Sunday as Japan romped 12-0 over Italy in the Athens Olympics baseball preliminaries.

Japan, aiming to win its first baseball gold medal at the Games, started out with two runs in the first frame on a Nakamura RBI single and an error and scored in all innings except for the second at Olympic Baseball Center.

Kintetsu Buffaloes slugger Nakamura went 2-for-2 with four RBIs, including a two-run homer in the third, and Fukudome, an outfielder with the Chunichi Dragons, and Nippon Ham Fighters infielder Michihiro Ogasawara drove in two runs apiece.

Yomiuri Giants ace Uehara struck out four while giving up as many hits and a walk. Daisuke Miura of the Yokohama BayStars tossed a perfect seventh inning before the game was called under the tournament’s mercy rule.

Japan tops qualifying

ATHENS (Kyodo) Japan topped the qualification round Saturday for the men’s gymnastics team competition at the Athens Olympics and secured one or more spots in the individual all-around final and five of six apparatus finals.

Japan, looking for its first team gold in 28 years, finished first among the competing teams with a total of 232.134 points on stable performances in all events at Olympic Indoor Hall in the order of vault, parallel bars, horizontal bar, floor exercise, pommel horse and still rings.

The United States came second ahead of Romania and China, the defending Olympic champion and last year’s world team gold medalist, to go through to the competition, which also includes 2000 Sydney Games silver and bronze medal winners Ukraine and Russia, as well as South Korea and Germany.

Hiroyuki Tomita and Isao Yoneda qualified for the 24-man individual all-around event by finishing in third and 10th places with 57.649 and 56.924 points, respectively. American Paul Hamm had the biggest total, followed by Yang Tae Young of South Korea.

In individual apparatus competitions, Daisuke Nakano and Tomita went through to the parallel bar final by taking the top two scores in the event Saturday, while Yoneda finished top in the horizontal bar and Nakano also qualified with a third-place score.

Yoneda and Nakano made the floor exercise final, world champion Takehiro Kashima and Hiroyuki Tomita qualified for the pommel horse contest and Tomita was the only Japanese among the eight finalists in the rings. No Japanese made the vault final.

Japan, which has not won an Olympic medal in gymnastics in 12 years and gold in 28 years, is looking to ignite a return to the glory days when the men’s squad won five straight Olympic gold medals between 1960 and 1976.