RIO DE JANEIRO – Junko Hirose won judo bronze at the 2016 Rio Paralympics on Friday, earning Japan’s fourth overall medal, as the country’s first gold remains elusive and the slow start continues.
Hirose, 25, competing in the 57-kg division of women’s judo for visually impaired athletes, earned an ippon win over three-time Paralympic medalist Maria Merenciano Herrero from Spain. The medal is Hirose’s first at the Paralympics and a career-best result for the Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, resident.
“I am really happy that I could fight my fight,” Hirose said, also explaining she believed she fought instinctively and that her superior strength and power on the ground paid off in the bronze final.
After the second full day of Rio 2016 Paralympic competition, Japan sits 39th on the medal table with one silver and three bronze medals.
Japanese judoka Aramitsu Kitazono reached the bronze medal bout in the men’s 73-kg event but was unable to overcome Germany’s Nikolai Kornhass, as the 25-year-old from Kobe lost by ippon.
Japan missed out on winning its first track and field medal by one place when Maya Nakanishi finished fourth in the women’s T44 long jump final.
Nakanishi’s 5.42-meter leap was 15 cm from bronze and 41 cm behind the gold medalist, France’s Marie-Amelle le Fur, who set a world record in the event. Japan’s other contestant in the final, Saki Takakuwa, finished fifth.
Japan’s defending gold medalist women’s goalball team got its first win in Rio, beating host Brazil 2-1 to claim the lead in Group C with four points.
Three-time Paralympian Akiko Adachi starred, getting the team’s opening goal with five minutes remaining in the first half and then the winner from a penalty with a minute to go after Brazil equalized in the 18th minute.
Japan’s men’s wheelchair basketball team suffered its second-consecutive defeat, losing to Spain, 55-39.
Despite 35-year-old Paralympic debutant Mitsugo Chiwaki’s 10-point, 11-rebound effort, the Japanese squad had no answer for Spain, in particular point guard David Mouriz, who finished with 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
In the pool, Kyosuke Oyama finished fifth in the men’s 50-meter butterfly S6 event, touching in 31.98 seconds, just over two seconds behind gold medalist Xu Qing from China.
Yurie Kanuma placed fifth in the women’s track cycling B1000-meter time trial, finishing in 1 minute, 11.075 seconds, almost five seconds behind British winner Sophie Thronhill, who won in 1:06.283.