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Shohei Ono conquers 73-kg judo division at Asian Games

Kyodo

Shohei Ono added an Asian Games gold to his collection of honors on Thursday when he beat An Chang-rim of South Korea in a tight contest.

The 73-kg division victory came in dramatic fashion with the 26-year-old putting his opponent to the mat in the golden score period, half flipping An and securing a waza-ari victory.

Ono also claimed gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Earlier, Momo Tamaoki, the 2015 Asian champion, defeated Kim Jin A of North Korea by ippon in the women’s 57-kg event to win Japan’s first judo gold of the day at JCC Plenary Hall.

Tamaoki’s win ensured Japan’s ongoing dominance of the weight category, with the country winning at a third straight Asian Games. Legendary two-time world champion and London Olympic gold medalist Kaori Matsumoto was victorious in 2010, and Anzu Yamamoto won in 2014.

“The technique that I have been practicing fit in,” said Tamaoki. “This shows that my efforts do not lie. I wanted to use the technique at some stage and the timing came in the final. My body was automatically moving to nail it.

“The Asian Games is not my goal, so I hope to win the next tournament so that I can make an attempt at the Tokyo Olympics.”

Nami Nabekura kept the good times rolling for Japan in the women’s 63-kg event, beating half-Japanese and Japan-based Filipino Kiyomi Watanabe in the final by ippon.

“I thought the only option for me was to win. It may have been a rough match but I was able to fight through and it was a good result,” Nabekura said.

Saki Niizoe defeated South Korea’s Kim Seong-yeon by waza-ari in the women’s 70-kg event.

“I knew the opponent was strong and would likely be a long bout,” Niizoe said of her four-minute encounter. “But it is a confidence boost that I won it without losing stamina.

“Because my previous two compatriots won gold, I felt pressure that I had to follow. But in the end, I thought I can win if I just fight my fight.”

The lone Japanese to emerge without a win on Thursday night was Takeshi Sasaki, who lost his men’s 81-kg bronze medal bout to Vladimir Zololev of Kyrgyzstan.