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Home News Hard to beat: Japan’s judokas wrap up FISU Games in style

Hard to beat: Japan’s judokas wrap up FISU Games in style

Summer Games 1 August 2023

There were no surprises Tuesday on the last day of judo competition at the Chengdu FISU World University Games as Japan swept the women’s and men’s team events.

Japanese athletes dominated the tournament at the Jianyang Cultural and Sports Centre Gymnasium, capturing a total of 15 medals, 11 of them gold.

Yamaguchi Kirari had already contributed to that tally on Sunday when she won individual gold in the women’s -63 kg weight class. Now, teamed up with Omori Akari, Honda Mayu and Arai Mao, she managed to celebrate another success.

“After an individual medal I thought it was meaningless if I didn’t win the team competition. It’s very important for me”, said Yamaguchi, an 18-year-old student at Kokushikan University.

“It’s different in Japan. At university, we are fighting against each other as enemies, but today we were able to fight as a team.”

Germany battled hard to claim the runner-up position, leaving the Republic of Korea and Brazil in third.

“Obviously, the Japanese have kind of the reputation of being unbeatable,” conceded Samira Bock, who also claimed silver in Chengdu in the individual -70kg category. “But Germany had previously beaten Japan, so they are not completely unbeatable but are a really strong opponent.”

Japan’s domination in the sport is not surprising since judo originates from that country. Which also explains having trouble fighting the Japanese, who share a great deal of mental discipline and strength.

“I think it’s because they have a different style from European judo that we’re used to, and they also train really hard,” said Bock. “Whenever we go to Japan we train so hard with their team.”

Ishihara Tatsuki (Japan) takes on Javokhirbek Saparov (Uzbekistan) in men’s team competition

The Japanese men looked even better prepared.

Tatsuki Ishihara, Taiki Nakamura, Yoshito Hojo, Yuta Nakamura and Kazuki Nakanishi, all individual medalists in Chengdu, held off the challenge of Uzbekistan in the final.

“I had a bronze medal from the individual, and I wanted gold. That was personal warfare for me,” said a thrilled Nakanishi, who managed to taste victory in his first international competition.

Japan was eventually too big an obstacle for Uzbekistan’s fighters. Even though they opened the final by winning the first battle, it didn’t take long for the Japanese to set things straight.

Republic of Korea and Azerbaijan took bronze.

Written by Ana Brenčić, FISU Young Reporter