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Masae Ueno captured the women’s 70-kg gold medal, but Hiroshi Izumi had to settle for silver in the men’s 90-kg in the judo competition at the Athens Olympics on Wednesday.

News photoJapan’s Masae Ueno reacts after winning the gold medal in the women’s 70-kg category by
defeating Edith Bosch of the Netherlands in the final on Wednesday in Athens.

Japan improved its gold medal tally to five for its best-ever gold haul at the Summer Games, but it missed out on the chance for a third day of double Olympic gold.

Ueno defeated Edith Bosch of the Netherlands by ippon in the final while Izumi fell in a earth-shattering ippon loss to Zurab Zviadauri of Georgia at Ano Liossia Olympic Hall.

Japan surpassed its previous best of four golds set in Sydney four years ago and at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, where only the men’s competition was held.

Ueno gave Japan its third women’s gold with a perfectly timed ippon over the tall, lanky Dutchwoman 3 minutes, 10 seconds into the final.

“I was really nervous and I didn’t start to relax until the third round,” said Ueno. “I entered the semifinal with a whole different feeling. I just thought I had to do my own style of judo,” she said.

Ryoko Tani and Ayumi Tanimoto captured the 48-kg and 63-kg golds earlier this week. It is also the first time one country has won three weight categories since women’s judo was introduced at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Qin Dongya of China and Annett Boehm of Germany took the women’s bronzes, while Khasanbi Taov of Russia and Mark Huizinga of the Netherlands won the men’s bronzes.

In the semifinal match, Ueno pulverized a timid-looking Catherine Marie Joelle Arlove of Australia with an osotogari 1:24 into their match.

Ueno, who made her second Olympic appearance, missed a podium finish in Sydney four years ago but won the world championship titles in 2001 and 2003.

Ueno got off to a rocky start with a shido deduction for failing to apply pressure on Celita Schutz of the United States in her first match, but she gained control on the mat to pin her opponent at 3:36.

She advanced to the third round by beating Slovakia’s Rasa Sraka on points, but the win was by no means pretty as the Japanese judoka kept her head too low and was kept off-balance for most of the fight.

Ueno finally got the big tumble she had waited for with an inner leg sweep ouchigari on Belgium’s Catherine Jacques at 1:01 in the third match to move into the semifinal.

Izumi’s silver is Japan’s second following Yuki Yokosawa in the women’s 52-kg.

Aussies stun Japan

ATHENS (Kyodo) One day after beating baseball powerhouse Cuba, Japan’s hopes of taking a perfect record into the Olympic semifinals were dashed in a 9-4 loss to Australia on Wednesday in Japan’s fourth preliminary-round game in Athens.

Kosuke Fukudome looked to have turned the game around with a three-run go-ahead homer in the fifth inning, but the bullpen wasted the effort of the Chunichi Dragons outfielder who was part of the silver medal-winning team at the 1996 Atlanta Games as a 19-year-old.

Japan’s all-pro pitching staff of Naoyuki Shimizu (Lotte), Hitoki Iwase (Chunichi), Daisuke Miura (Yokohama), Hirotoshi Ishii (Yakult) and Yuya Ando (Hanshin) yielded 15 hits to the Aussies.

In the seventh, Gavin Fingleson hit a tie-breaking two-run single off Ishii for the team’s fifth straight hit as Australia went up 6-4 and former Chunichi player David Nilsson, the country’s first major leaguer, led off the eighth with a homer to extend the lead.

The loss was Japan’s fourth against Australia in nine major international tournaments, including the Olympics, World Cup and Intercontinental Cup, since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“We wanted to win all the prelim games, but Australia was unstoppable today and we made them that way. I know our team can turn this into a lesson for the future,” said Kiyoshi Nakahata, who is replacing Shigeo Nagashima at the helm.

Nagashima stayed behind in Japan to recover from a stroke he had in March.

Japan is now 3-1 in the eight-nation tournament. Australia improved to 2-2.

Australia made the first move by scoring three runs on five straight hits off Chiba Lotte Marines right-hander Shimizu in the fourth.

Brett Ronenberg ignited the inning with a single before Nilsson, who played for Chunichi in 2001 under the name “Dingo,” also singled and came around to score on a Brendan Kingman RBI single.

On Tuesday, Seibu Lions pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched 8 2/3 strong innings to lead Japan to a 6-3 win over two-time gold medalist Cuba.

It was Japan’s first win over the Cubans since beating them 5-3 in the qualifiers of the World Cup in 2001.

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