LONDON – Yoshie Ueno rebounded from disappointment to grab a bronze medal in the women’s 63-kilogram class at the London Olympics on Tuesday.
But young Takahiro Nakai could not achieve the same as he crumbled to defeat against Russian Ivan Nifontov in the men’s 81-kg match for third, missing out on a podium spot in his Olympic debut.
Ueno outclassed Munkhzaya Tsedevsuren of Mongolia to win a consolation bronze on points after her opponent was unable to stave off her relentless attacks. Slovenia’s Urska Zolnir beat Xu Lili of China to win her first Olympic gold.
The 29-year-old Ueno was aiming to follow the legacy of her older sister Masae, who won gold at both the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games at 70 kg, but came up short in her Olympic debut. The now retired Ayumi Tanimoto won the 63-kg gold medal in Beijing.
“I have to say that I am disappointed since I was aiming for a gold medal,” said Ueno. “My sister had supported me (as my coach), and I was in good form. This was a fresh experience for me. Now that it’s over, I feel that I enjoyed myself,” she said.
Ueno lost to South Korea’s Joung Da Woon in the quarterfinals, but bounced back, scoring a yuko against Dutchwoman Elisabeth Willeboordse in the dying seconds of their repechage match to reach the match for third place against Tsedevsuren.
Ueno, winner at the 2009 and 2010 world championships, could find no answer for the more aggressive Joung, who beat the Japanese judoka on two yuko points in the round of eight.
Earlier, Ueno placed Garima Chaudhary of India in a scarf submission in her first match, and beat Croatia’s Marijana Miskovic with a yuko point in the golden score extra period in her second match before falling to the 23-year-old South Korean.
Nakai lost by ippon to Beijing Olympic champion Ole Bischof, who deployed a back-lying perpendicular armbar to win their quarterfinal match, but he outlasted Brazilian Leandro Guilheiro to win his next match on points for a spot in the match for third place.
“I gave it all the power I have, and I wanted to win in the end,” said Nakai, the youngest member of Japan’s judo team at 21. “The senior members of our team won medals, and I wanted to also. I don’t know about four years from now that’s why I was determined to get a medal. Right now, I just feel disappointment.”
South Korean Kim Jae Bum got revenge over Bischof to win the gold, having lost to the German judoka in the final in Beijing.
Japan has five medals thus far in judo in London — three for the men and two for the women.
On Monday, Kaori Matsumoto became the first Japanese female judoka to win a medal at these Summer Games and the only Japanese to ever win Olympic gold in the women’s 57-kg category.
Hiroaki Hiraoka and Riki Nakaya took silver medals in the men’s 60 kg and 73 kg, respectively, while Masashi Ebinuma won a bronze at 66 kg.
Tournament favorite Tomoko Fukumi (48 kg) finished in fifth on the opening day, and Misato Nakamura (52 kg) made an exit in her first match against eventual gold-medal winner An Kum Ae of North Korea on the second day.