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Japan beats France to retain mixed team title on final day of worlds

Kyodo

Japan earned a 4-1 victory over France to capture the mixed team event title for the second straight year and added an eighth gold medal to a 17-medal haul as the World Judo Championships wrapped up on Thursday.

On the final day at National Gymnastics Arena, Rio silver medalist Hisayoshi Harasawa beat Cyrille Maret in the men’s over-90 kg bout after two minutes of golden score to give Japan an early lead.

Newly crowned women’s 57-kg world champion Tsukasa Yoshida defeated Priscilla Gneto, and Arata Tatsukawa took down Guillaume Chaine in the men’s 73-kg division to make it 3-0.

Women’s 70-kg bronze medalist Yoko Ono lost to silver medalist Marie-Eve Gahie, but Shoichiro Mukai helped Japan bounce back with a victory by ippon over Axel Clerget in the men’s 90-kg category.

“I absolutely didn’t want to stand in the way of everyone’s success,” Mukai said. “I thought that if I lost (in the final match), I wouldn’t be able to go back to Japan.”

A unified Korean team, which Japan defeated 4-0 in the semifinals, made history by earning bronze along with Russia, which defeated host Azerbaijan 4-1 before losing to France by the same score.

The mixed team contest, held for the first time at the world championships last year in Budapest, consists of teams of six judoka contesting the men’s 73-kg, 90-kg and over-90 kg and the women’s 57-kg, 70-kg, and over-70 kg categories.

Team Japan will attempt a second defense on home soil at next year’s world championships in Tokyo in preparation for the event’s Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games.