QINGDAO, CHINA – Ryuju Nagayama won the men’s 60-kg division in an impressive display Thursday at the Qingdao Masters.
Compatriot Ai Shishime was also victorious, taking the women’s 52-kg title on the first day of the competition, which serves as a selection event for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
Nagayama won all five of his bouts by ippon, including the final against Spain’s Franciso Garrigos.
The 23-year-old, who had to settle for bronze at this year’s world championships, is now firmly focused on progressing to next year’s games on home soil.
“I’m only concentrating on what’s in front of me,” Nagayama said. “I’m glad I won. I was able to wrestle in the way I’m accustomed, with my own style of judo.”
Former world champion Shishime also made an undefeated march to the title, defeating France’s Amandine Buchard in the final.
The 25-year-old, who faces a tough task making the Olympic team amid Japan’s talented 52-kg field, said the victory was a small step toward the games.
“I wasn’t wrestling particularly well, but I kept grinding out results and got the title. That’s given me confidence,” Shishime said.
“Competition for the Olympic team is stiff. There’s not much chance of making it, but every win gets me a little bit closer.”
In the women’s 57-kg division, Asian Games champion Momo Tamaoki took silver after losing to North Korea’s Kim Jin A in the final.
Tamaoki advanced to the gold-medal match by beating countrywoman Tsukasa Yoshida, who later lost her bronze-medal bout against Canada’s Jessica Klimkait.
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