BUDAPEST – Judoka Naohisa Takato and Funa Tonaki won gold medals in their respective categories, while Ami Kondo settled for bronze as the world championships got underway Monday.
Takato, the 2013 world champion and bronze medalist at last year’s Rio Olympics, downed Pavel Petrikov of the Czech Republic in the men’s 60-kg semifinals and defeated Azerbaijan’s Orkhan Safarov by ippon with an ouchigari inner leg sweep in the final to reclaim the crown.
“I was lucky today starting with the draw,” said the 24-year-old Takato, making his third appearance at the worlds, after fighting steadily in all of his five bouts. “With that draw, it’s natural for me to win.”
But Takato said he is not yet ready for celebrations because he still needs to fulfill a goal of beating up-and-coming 21-year-old countryman Ryuju Nagayama, who made his world championships debut in the Hungarian capital but lost in the third round to 2014 world champion Boldbaatar Ganbat.
In the women’s 48-kg class, newcomer Tonaki beat Kazakhstan’s Rio bronze medalist Otgontsetseg Galbadrakh in extra time in the semis and went on to claim a yusei victory over former world champion Urantsetseg Munkhbat of Mongolia in the final.
“I’m very happy. I’ve never cried before even when I won, but my eyes watered today,” said the 22-year-old Tonaki. “It was my first time at the worlds but I could see my surroundings. I became a world champion but I want to win with modesty and always fight with the feelings of a challenger.”
Kondo lost to Munkhbat in the semis and settled for bronze by beating Milica Nikolic of Serbia.