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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Japan prove judo future is bright with team sweep at IJF Junior World Championships

Japan topped the medals table with eight gold, four silver, and two bronze medals from the 18 finals over the five days of competition that drew more than 400 judokas age 20 and from 39 countries, writes Amith Passela.
The gold medal-winning ​Japan junior women’s team. Courtesy photo
The gold medal-winning ​Japan junior women’s team. Courtesy photo

ABU DHABI // Japan’s junior men and women dominated the final day of the International Judo Federation Junior World Championships with a double gold in the team event.

Their junior men demolished Georgia 5-0 and the women’s team outclassed France 4-1 in the two finals last night at the Zayed Sports City’s Ipic Arena.

Japan topped the medals table with eight gold, four silver, and two bronze medals from the 18 finals over the five days of competition that drew more than 400 judokas age 20 and from 39 countries.

South Korea were a distant second with two gold, one silver, and two bronze followed by Russia with two gold and a silver. Georgia, Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Croatia, Hungary, and Kosovo won a gold medal each.

“We want this squad to work together in judo. They are all junior champions in Japan and that’s why they were selected,” said Masahiko Tomouchi, Japan’s coach for the junior men.

“Today, we explained to them how important the team competition was for us, to represent our flag and our country. They understood this and it helped to bring them together as a team.

“Our junior men and women teams are the future, and some of them may go on to represent Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This is our objective.”

Tomouchi hopes many of his charges will take the next step to the senior national team after next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“After the Rio Olympics, the Japan Judo Federation will evaluate the senior judokas,” he said. “It is another five years before the next Olympics so a lot of things may change, but we still believe the core of them to be from this young squad. They too are working with those ambitions.”

Masari Asari got Japan off to a bright start, defeating Tornike Nagaliasvili by ippon, and Yuji Yamamoto made it 2-0 by winning the next match 3-2 against Tamaz Kirakozashvili on shido penalties.

Sotaro Fujiwara got the better of Levan Gugava by a waza-ari to give Japan an unassailable 3-0 lead. Soichiro Mukai beat Giorgo Gvelesiani and Genta Tanaka outclassed Giorgi Lazuashvili to complete the rout.

In the junior women’s, Kana Tomizawa gave Japan a winning start over Gwenaelle Patin but Sarah Harachi restored parity for France by taking the next from Haruka Funakubo.

Nami Nabekura regained the lead for Japan by throwing Clemence Eme with an uchi-mata for a yuko and then secured the yoko-shiho-gatame.

Remi Aoyagi gave Japan the title by beating Marina Olarte and Wakaba Tomita completed her double-gold (individual and team) on her debut in the World Junior with victory over Morgane Duchene.

apassela@thenational.ae

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