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Wolf takes world judo gold; Asahina settles for silver

Kyodo

Aaron Wolf won the men’s 100-kg division at judo’s world championships on Saturday, while compatriot Sara Asahina settled for silver in the women’s over-78-kg class.

As two Japanese judoka were eliminated in the second and third rounds of the men’s over-100-kg category, the country ended the individual competitions with seven gold medals, four silvers and one bronze from 14 divisions combined for both genders.

Japan tied the second-most golds it has won at a world meet, excluding the openweight categories, since the men’s and women’s contests were merged in 1987, one less than the eight it bagged at the 2010 championships in Tokyo.

In the 100-kg final, Wolf took two shido penalties but claimed a yusei victory over Georgia’s Varlam Liparteliani, who won silver in the 90-kg class at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last year, with an ouchigari inner-leg sweep in extra time.

“My determination and stamina are my strengths. I think I gave all I have,” said the 21-year-old Wolf, making his worlds debut. “The important thing is what comes after this. I will keep going and win at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for sure.”

Wolf advanced to the semifinals by scoring a waza-ari in his match with Rio silver medalist Elmar Gasimov of Azerbaijan and beat Dutch judoka Michael Korrel, ranked No. 1 in the world, in extra time to secure his place in the final.

Rio Olympic bronze medalist Ryunosuke Haga failed to defend his title as he made a second-round exit with a defeat to Russia’s Kazbek Zankishiev.

In women’s over 78 kg, Asahina, the 2014 junior world champion, lost to China’s defending champion Yu Song by taking a shido penalty in extra time.

“There is a huge difference between gold and silver. I had to win here so I’m disappointed,” the 20-year-old Asahina said, but added, “reaching the final at my first world championships will give me a boost going forward.”

In the men’s over 100 kg, Rio Games silver medalist Hisayoshi Harasawa fell to Austria’s Stephan Hegyi in the second round, and Takeshi Ojitani was taken down by Daniel Allerstorfer of Austria in the third round.

France’s Teddy Riner, the two-time reigning Olympic champion who beat Harasawa in the final at the Rio Olympics, beat Brazil’s David Moura in the final to claim a record eighth straight world title.