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Youngster steals the show in a four-medal day for Japan

Summer Games 29 July 2023

“I’m thinking of defeating everyone older than me,” said Shinsei Hattori, a 19-year-old judoka from Japan. On the opening day of the Chengdu FISU World University Games, he secured the first major title of his young career with a blazing fast ippon against Radu Izvoreanu of Moldova.

Despite having only competed in one professional event prior to the FISU Summer Games, the youngster finished his opponent in men’s -66kg in less than five seconds with the highest form of scoring in judo – and not even he was expecting that. “I wasn’t feeling well before the fight, but I’m very happy that I was able to win in the end,” he said.

Omori Akari of Team Japan and Najla Roxanne Martha Fawaz (R) of Team France

The student-athlete from Tokai University was not the only Japanese judoka with a golden day at Jinyang Cultural and Sports Centre Gymnasium. Japan won gold medals in four out of the five events on the day: Hikari Yoshioka got the win at woman’s -48kg, while Shiraishi Hibiki won woman’s -52kg. Taiki Nakamura was the other golden boy in men’s -60kg.

It was Mimi Huh from South Korea who spoiled a perfect day for Japanese judo. She beat Akari Omori, who was disqualified after three penalties in women’s -57kg after more than 10 minutes of an extremely balanced fight. “I worked hard but I’m not tired,” she said.

Yang Yun-wei, Chinese Taipei

Apart from a dozen of Japanese people who came to watch their athletes fight, most of the stadium was there for one guy, Yang Yun-wei from ChineseYang Yun wei Taipei. The 25-year-old won a silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and is currently the fifth highest ranked judoka in the International Judo Federation senior world rankings. He was surprisingly defeated by Taiki Nakamura in the men’s -60kg, who managed an ippon against the reigning Olympic medalist.

Interestingly, while Nakamura was only asked one question in the mixed zone, Yang spent around 30 minutes talking to enthusiastic journalists who flooded him with what appeared to be an endless number of questions. Despite the loss, Yang kept a calm demeanour and was laser focused on the future of first the Asian Games, then Paris 2024. But, you might ask, what does an actual Olympic medalist and former number one ranked judoka gain by participating at the FISU Games. Yang was resolute in responding, “My goal is to learn my opponent’s strengths to offset my own weaknesses, basically I use my adversary’s skills to improve my own game.”

Written by Pedro Consoli, FISU Young Reporter