BUDAPEST – Japan resumed its gold medal rush at the world championships on Friday, when Chizuru Arai won her weight division, while defending champion Mami Umeki grabbed silver in the women’s 78-kg class.
Arai won the women’s 70-kg championship over Puerto Rico’s Maria Perez. Arai secured her first medal at the worlds when she advanced to the final by beating Rio Olympics silver medalist Yuri Alvear of Colombia on a judge’s decision.
“My dream was to become a world champion,” said Arai, who was the only female judoka to finish without a medal in the championships in 2015.
“I’ve spent my time thinking about how much I want to stand (on top of the podium). I finally did it,” Arai said. “This is my first step to the Tokyo Olympics.
“I want to be able to win every match I face for sure.”
Umeki, who went out in the first round at the Rio Olympics, lost by yusei against Rio bronze medalist Mayra Aguiar during extra time, after beating Marhinde Verkerk of the Netherlands in the semi.
“I’m really frustrated. I couldn’t get a grip on my opponent at all and couldn’t do anything on the ground either,” Umeki said. “I have to be able to throw my opponent while standing.”
Aguiar defeated Ruika Sato in the semifinals. Sato settled for fifth.