Hosts Japan continued their golden run in judo at the Nippon Budokan as the host nation won both Olympic titles at stake on the penultimate day of the individual competition.
The men’s -100kg gold medal went to Aaron Wolf while his teammate Shori Hamada scooped the -78kg title as Japan were once again in imperious form in Tokyo.
Wolf needed almost 10 minutes to defeat South Korea’s Cho Guham in added time while Hamada needed only 68 seconds to surpass French star Madeleine Malonga to give the sport’s founding nation a plentiful return of eight gold medals from the 12 categories contested so far.
Should Japan make the podium in each of the three remaining events, it will finish with 13 medals, one more than the record the country set at Rio 2016.
Cho and Wolf delivered a stalemate in the regulation time which didn’t come as a surprise as they know each other so well and they are two of the finest operators the category has seen in years.
They entered golden score with a penalty apiece and Wolf was first to press with a uchi-mata effort but was shut down by Cho.
After exchanging penalties until both men had two apiece, meaning one more would result in a disqualification, Cho upped his work rate. South Korean judoka always leave something in reserve but it was Wolf who almost opened the scoring as the Tokai University man shook his opponent with a uchi-mata. The deceptively agile world number six recovered but after five and a half minutes of added time, Wolf launched with a o-uchi-gari (big inner reap) for a final-winning waza-ari score.
Ex-world champion at this weight Cho defeated Portugal’s first world judo champion and reigning champion Jorge Fonseca. Former heavyweight fighter Cho threw with a drop seoi-nage (dropping hand technique) for a waza-ari score with 16 seconds left on the clock to break the deadlock. The South Korean fell to his knees at the end of the contest in a scene of pure emption as he had already guaranteed his place on the podium.
Wolf, whose father is American, edged past Georgia’s three-time Olympian Varlam Liparteliani for a place in the gold medal contest.
Liparteliani suffered a shock early exit at London 2012 in the -90kg category before claiming silver at Rio 2016 and the veteran moved up to the -100kg category in 2017. Wolf caught his rival with a o-uchi-gari (big inner reap) for a waza-ari score with 75 seconds left on the clock which proved to be the only score of the contest.
Fonseca defeated Canadian thrower Shady Elnahas for bronze by a waza-ari score which came from an o-goshi (major hip throw) from the Portuguese powerhouse with 40 seconds left on the clock. Cancer survivor Fonseca wrote the greatest chapter yet of his stellar career to become only his country’s third Olympic judo medallist.
Two of the sport’s leading nations met in the latest instalment of their titanic rivalry as Russia’s two-time world medallist Niiaz Iliasov who was representing ROC faced off with Georgian great Liparteliani. Liasov was awarded a waza-ari score from a sumi-otoshi (corner drop) with 40 seconds left following a video review by the referee commission as Liparteliani signed off from the Olympics with a fifth-place finish.
Day 6 Results
GOLD – Wolf Aaron (JPN)
SILVER – Cho Guham (KOR)
BRONZE - Jorge Fonseca (POR)
BRONZE - Niiaz Iliasov (ROC)
Hamada was Japan’s first gold medal source on day six of judo as she defeated arch-rival Malonga by ippon.
Malonga was trapped and held down on the tatami with a kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame (broken upper four-quarter hold-down) pin for 20 seconds and ippon with a commanding display to celebrate her first Olympic title.
In her semi-final Hamada bested the reigning world champion Anna-Maria Wagner from Germany by ippon with a ude-hishigi-juji-gatame (cross armbar).
France’s world silver medallist Madeleine Malonga prevailed against Asian Oceania Championships gold medallist Yoon Hyunji of South Korea who was disqualified after picking up three penalties (for going outside of the contest area twice and once for gripping the legs of her opponent.)
In the first bronze medal contest Wagner returned to winning ways by beating Cuba’s former world bronze medallist Kaliema Antomarchi by a waza-ari score from her trademark uchi-mata (inner thigh throw).
The second bronze medal went to former world champion and double Olympic bronze medallist Mayra Aguiar who held down Yoon for 20 seconds and ippon with a kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame (broken upper four-quarter hold-down). Aguiar, 29, is now a three-time Olympic bronze medallist and one of her nation’s most decorated judoka of all time.
Day 6 Results
GOLD – Hamada Shori (JPN)
SILVER – Madeleine Malonga (FRA)
BRONZE – Mayra Aguiar (BRA)
BRONZE - Anna-Maria Wagner (GER)