• Kyodo


Two-time Olympic gold medalist Masato Uchishiba will coach the men’s national judo team of Kyrgyzstan, returning to the judo world more than five years after receiving a lifetime ban in Japan following a rape conviction, sources said Monday.

The 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing 66-kg gold medalist was expelled for life from the All Japan Judo Federation in 2013 after he was convicted of raping a drunk student in 2011 when he was coaching the women’s judo team at Kyushu University of Nursing and Social Welfare.

He served jail time after his five-year prison term was finalized in 2014. He had shifted to jujutsu since he was released on parole last November, sports daily Sports Hochi reported.

According to the sources, the country in central Asia hopes Uchishiba, 40, will provide assistance in developing young athletes ahead of the 2020 and 2024 Games, since its national team has missed the podium in recent years at the Olympics and the world championships.

“There was a part of me that wanted to improve jujutsu, but people who have supported me were really happy that I will be returning to the judo world. I decided to take the job as a way to respond to their support,” he was quoted by Sports Hochi as saying.

Uchishiba has signed a contract to work with the national team starting in August. He received the offer through his jujutsu training facility in Kanagawa Prefecture and has already arrived in the country, according to sources.

Sports Hochi reported he is also considering returning to competition if he can acquire Kyrgyzstan nationality.

“I think each individual has the right to compete at the Olympics,” he said.

But first, Uchishiba wants to help athletes and coaches in Kyrgyzstan concentrate in their training, according to the sports daily.

“I’m focused on building a foundation that will allow many athletes to fall in love with the sport and continue judo even after I leave the country,” he said.

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