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Nagase earns ticket to judo worlds; Baker hurt

Kyodo

Rio Olympic bronze medalist Takanori Nagase secured his fourth straight national invitational weight class championship on Sunday and a place in this summer’s world championships in the men’s 81-kg division.

Nagase defeated Hayato Watanabe in the final on points after extra period at Fukuoka Kokusai Center to continue his domestic dominance, and will now seek to defend his title in Budapest, where the worlds will be held starting Aug. 28.

It was a completely different story for Rio 90-kg gold medalist Mashu Baker, however. He pulled out in the first round with a right-shoulder injury in his first post-Olympic tournament.

Shoichiro Mukai won the division, while Takeshi Ojitani claimed the over-100-kg title after Rio runner-up Hisayoshi Harasawa went out in the semifinals. The pair secured their first titles at the tournament but the All Nippon Judo Federation will only decide the representative for the two classes on April 29 after the national men’s championship.

The federation is hoping to name Baker to the team for Budapest, but is waiting for the results of further tests on his shoulder. Baker is currently entered in the men’s championship, but said he faces a dilemma.

“This is the first time I’ve had a complete separation,” Baker said. “If my goal is the (2020) Tokyo Olympics, I would have surgery and then rest for something like a year, so I’m conflicted.”

Aaron Wolf clinched a 100-kg berth in Budapest. He won his second title, edging Rio bronze medalist Ryunosuke Haga in the final on points after 12 minutes, 14 seconds.

Winners from Saturday, Soichi Hashimoto (73-kg), Hifumi Abe (66-kg) and Ryuju Nagayama (60-kg) all secured their tickets to the worlds. Rio’s 60-kg bronze medalist Naohisa Takato, who lost to Nagayama in the final a day earlier, was also named for the only division with two Japanese male representatives.

In the women’s competition, Rio bronze medalist Ami Kondo defeated Funa Tonaki by ippon with big outer reap in extra period. She secured her second straight 48-kg title, her third at the tournament, and was picked for worlds.

Ai Shishime defeated Natsumi Tsunoda on points in overtime to win her maiden 52-kg title, but Tsunoda will represent Japan in Budapest.

Nae Udaka won her fourth 57-kg title, although Tsukasa Yoshida will compete in the division at worlds. Two winners from Saturday, Rio Olympian Mami Umeki (78-kg) and Chizuru Arai (70-kg), were also handed tickets to Budapest.

Ruika Sato joins Umeki in the 78-kg, while there will be no Japanese representative in the 63-kg class due to a lack of qualified competitors. The over-78-kg representative will be decided at the women’s national championship on April 16.