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Judoka Ruika Sato, Kentaro Iida, Akira Sone add to Japan’s gold-medal haul

Kyodo

Japan continued to dominate the Asian Games judo competition on Friday, adding a further three gold medals to the five it had already won in Indonesia.

Ruika Sato collected the nation’s first gold of the day, beating South Korea’s Park Yu-jin with a leg sweep ippon in the women’s 78-kg event.

“I was telling myself I had to win however I could and the waza (the last technique) came naturally,” said Sato, the 2018 Grand Slam champion in the division.

“With the opportunity given to me, if I didn’t win, I was thinking that there would be no next chance.”

Next up, Kentaro Iida ensured Japan’s golden run continued, but he had to work hard in the men’s under-100 kg division.

His opponent, Cho Gu-ham of South Korea, pushed the bout into golden score time but lost the attritional battle by ippon after incurring three shido penalties.

“There are still more challenges, but winning here has given me great confidence,” said the 20-year-old Iida, the youngest-ever gold medalist in this event at an Asian Games.

“If I had lost at the Asian Games, people would have said that the difference (between me and my rivals) is widening and I would not be able to make it to the Olympics. I managed to salvage a tiny shred of hope.”

Reigning world women’s over-78 kg title holder Akira Sone won Japan’s final judo gold on the day, beating South Korean Kim Min-jeong.

The bout also went to golden score, and Sone managed to pull out the win with a wasa-ari point.

“As every opponent is really strong, I fought only with the intention of defeating whoever was in front of me,” she said.

In the first gold medal final of the evening, Gwak Dong-han of South Korea defeated Mongolia’s Altanbagana Gantulga in the men’s 90-kg final.

The South Korean Rio Olympic bronze medalist reached the gold-medal bout by shocking reigning Olympic champion Mashu Baker by ippon in the semifinal.

Baker bounced back to beat Uzbek Shakhzodbek Sabirov in the bronze-medal bout to claim his first Asian Games medal.

“I was only aiming for the gold medal, so I feel very frustrated,” said Baker, who revealed he has been battling a shoulder injury suffered during a training camp three weeks ago.

“I was worried about taking part in this competition,” he added. “It was not that easy…(but) I have two more years (until the Tokyo Olympics), so I should overcome my problems and I want to keep going.”

In the men’s over-100-kg event, Takeshi Ojitani, the reigning Asian Games champion and two-time Grand Slam winner, lost his semifinal against South Korea’s Kim Sung-min by ippon after he was adjudged to have committed a serious hansoku-make infringement.

Tajikistan’s Shakarmamad Mirmamadov then dealt Ojitani n ippon defeat in their bronze-medal playoff.

Kim went trimphed over Duurenbayar Ulziibayar in the top-weight gold-medal bout.