In Tokyo, people love judo, know judo and they show it. The final opposed two Japanese athletes, Hayato Koga and Soichi Hashimoto, leaving no space for the other delegations. On one side, Hashimoto is world class and the world champion in 2017, five time grand slam winner, while on the other side, Hayato Koga, is the son of the judo legend Toshihiko Koga, who passed away in 2021. After a match mostly dominated by Koga, it was Hashimoto who added a sixth gold medal in a grand slam to his extensive prize list.
For the bronze medal contests, things were more balanced, with Igor Wandtke (GER), Ksawery Morka (POL) and Abdul Malik Umayev (BEL) joining Ken Oyoshi (JPN) to work for a place on the podium, which in every athlete's career really means something. The first bronze medal went to Ken Oyoshi (JPN), with a flying uchi-mata for ippon against Abdul Malik Umayev (BEL), while the second bronze was won by Ksawery Morka (POL) against, Igor Wandtke (GER). This is the first medal for Morka on the World Judo Tour. In Japan, this definitely has a special taste.
Shohei Ono (JPN) was announced and expected but a few days before the tournament he withdrew, not feeling fully ready to resume competition after his second Olympic title, obtained in Tokyo last year. The absence of King Ono therefore opened the doors of a title for the brand new world champion Tsogtbaatar Tsend-Ochir (MGL), crowned in Tashkent in October. Obviously, the world champion has not yet fully digested his Uzbek performance. Wearing his brand new red back-patch might not have been so easy either. In any case, it was in the second round that Tsend-Ochir disappeared against the dazzling Korean Heoncheol Kano.
This article was originally published on www.judoinside.com