Japan takes judo gold tally to eight on penultimate day

©  IJF

Tokyo, Japan, July 29, 2021: The judo tournament at Tokyo 2020 has provided rich pickings for the host nation at the venerable Nippon Budokan.

On Thursday, Japan won their seventh and eighth judo gold medals – and could take this tally into double figures when judo wraps up on Friday with the heaviest weight categories.

Japan won both gold medals on offer on Thursday, with Shori Hamada taking the women’s -78kg title and Aaron Wolf the men’s -100kg category.

Hamada made quick work of her final against 2019 world champion Madeleine Malonga of France, pinning her to the mat to end the contest after 69 seconds.

Wolf, on the other hand, needed a sweeping move for ippon at 9:35 to defeat Korea’s Cho Guham after an exhausting battle.

Hamada’s plan – to attack her opponent on ground technique (ne-waza) – worked a treat.

"I felt very good to use the hold down in the final,” she said. “Prior to the Games I trained ne-waza a lot. I remembered my loss against Malonga two years ago so the plan was not to make the same mistake. I wanted to get close and start ne-waza as soon as possible because I knew it would be her weak point."

Wolf, who was born in Tokyo to an American father and Japanese mother, added Japan’s eighth judo gold shortly after with a perfectly executed o-uchi-gari to take down Cho in an instant.

Wolf said the victory was extra special since it was the first for Japan in this weight category since his “sensei” (coach), Kosei Inoue.

"My physical condition was not good today but I’m happy because it is the first title for Japan in this category since Sensei Inoue and I’m double happy because it was the last major title to achieve in my career, after the worlds, the Asian and the national Japanese title. I was crying on the mat for all those reasons,” Wolf said.

With one day of individual competition remaining, 22 nations have already reached the podium and 33 have entered the final block.