Hosts Japan snatched double gold at the world judo championships Monday as Joshiro Maruyama and Uta Abe powered to victory to fire a warning ahead of next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
After failing to win a title on day one at the weekend, normal service was quickly resumed for the Japanese at the capital’s iconic Budokan martial arts venue.
World number two Maruyama produced a shock win over countryman and defending champion Hifumi Abe in the men’s 66-kilogram division before battering South Korea’s Kim Lim-hwan in a politically charged final.
While Abe was denied a hat-trick of world titles, his younger sister Uta — the poster girl of Japanese judo — retained her crown in the women’s 52-kilo class by dispatching Russian Natalia Kuziutina in just 28 seconds.
Japan dominated the 2018 world championships in Baku, capturing eight of the 15 gold medals available, and will be chasing a similar haul at the 2020 Olympics on home soil.
“It’s been a difficult road to come this far,” said a tearful Maruyama after bagging his first world title. “I’ve struggled more than most fighters, so this is a big win for me.”