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Aaron Wolf wins maiden national judo championship

Kyodo

Aaron Wolf captured his first national judo championship on Monday, after beating Hirotaka Kato in the final of the open-weight tournament.

Wolf, the 2017 men’s 100-kg judo world champion, claimed an extra-time, yusei victory over Kato, who won the tournament seven years ago. The 23-year-old Wolf picked up his rhythm later in the match and scored a waza-ari to earn the championship at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo.

“I’m more than 10 times happier than I imagined I would be. Winning here gives me the confidence I can compete among the world’s best,” he said.

Wolf beat three-time champion Takeshi Ojitani in the quarterfinals before defeating Yusei Ogawa in the semis.

The national championship doubled as a qualifier for the men’s over-100-kg competition at this summer’s world championships in Tokyo. Wolf has already booked a spot in the 100-kg division.

Defending champion Hisayoshi Harasawa, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic silver medalist in the over-100-kg division, went out in the quarterfinals after losing to Hyoga Ota in extra time.