GUADALAJARA - Japan’s Rio de Janeiro Olympic women’s team members Misato Nakamura and Ami Kondo both prevailed to win their respective weight divisions at the World Judo Masters in Mexico on Friday.
World No. 4 Nakamura scored an ippon win over Russian Natalia Kuziutina in the 52-kg final, while seventh-ranked Kondo struck gold by defeating Brazil’s London Olympic champion Sarah Menezes, also by ippon in the 48-kg division.
“I am glad that I was able to win points with my waza (techniques),” said Nakamura. “I can carry good momentum towards the Olympics. I want to try and win the gold medal (in Rio).”
Kondo was delighted to score a victory that went some way toward silencing her critics.
“It makes me really frustrated that people have said that I am not so strong when I wrestle outside Japan, so I wanted to win in any way I could,” said Kondo.
“This has given me confidence ahead of the Olympics. This will provide me with fresh impetus to win the title (in Rio).”
In one of the shocks of the day for Japan, Olympic champion Kaori Matsumoto was stunned by Taiwan’s Lien Chen-ling in her first bout in the women’s 57-kg class.
“My preparations didn’t go well this time,” said Matsumoto. “I didn’t feel like I could win. I think I overdid it at the training camp and wore myself out.”
In men’s action, Naohisa Takato lost in the first round of the men’s 60-kg to Vincent Limare of France, while Tomofumi Takajo finished seventh in the 66-kg.