• Kyodo


Judoka Shohei Ono will compete in the open-weight national championships on April 29, sources close to him said Saturday.

Ono, who made his nationals debut in 2014 a year after he claimed a world title, won his first match before he was beaten by Takeshi Ojitaji — who predominantly fights in the over-100-kg category — in the third round. He earned the 73-kg gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Reigning Olympic gold medalists and world champions are automatically advanced past the qualification round at the nationals.

The All Japan Judo Federation announced Wednesday Ono will sit out the national invitational weight class championships in Fukuoka on April 1-2 to focus on his academic studies.

His withdrawal from the invitational meet at Fukuoka Kokusai Center means he will most likely miss out on a place at the world championships this summer with the Fukuoka meet serving as a qualifier for the worlds in Budapest.

Ono, who booked his Olympic berth through the tournament last year, has taken a break from competition since the Rio Games and not taken part in any domestic or overseas qualifiers for the worlds.

He said he has not been able to prepare for the worlds as he has been prioritizing his graduate school thesis at Tenri University.

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