Riki Nakaya, right, defeats Dex Elmont in the final
PARIS — Japan claimed a clean sweep of the gold medals on the second day of the World Judo Championships at the Palais Omnisport de Bercy here on Wednesday.
Riki Nakaya, Aiko Sato and Misato Nakamura won their categories to take Japan’s record to five golds from the six categories contested so far this week.
In two of the three categories of the day Japan boasted the reigning champion but although both of those failed to retain their titles, other fighters stepped up to the plate instead.
World number two Nakaya ushered in a changing of the guard at under-73kg when he beat holder and compatriot Hiroyuki Akimoto in the semi-final, scoring a half-point waza-ari with an outer leg reap (osoto-gari).
Before that he had produced the throw of the day in golden score in his quarter-final against Kazakhstan’s Rinat Ibragimov with a counter pick-up (te-guruma) that lifted Ibragimov almost to head height before he came crashing down on his back.
The final pitted Nakaya against world number four Dex Elmont who had impressed all day with his shoulder throw (seoi-nage) but needed a judges’ decision to make the final after a scoreless semi against France’s Ugo Legrand.
The final was far from a classic and it was decided on a single penalty, shown to Elmont for passivity.
Legrand won hosts France’s first medal of the competition as he took bronze along with Uzbekistan’s Navruz Jurakobilov.
Sato was another to depose a reigning champion compatriot in the semi-final of the under-57kg division as she dominated Kaori Matsumoto, who is also the world number one.
It was her first ever win over her rival.
“Obviously my hardest fight was Matsumoto as I had fought her four times before and lost every time,” she said.
“But since I had lost four times before I had nothing to lose so there wasn’t much pressure.”
Sato caught Matsumoto with a body-drop (tai-otoshi) and followed it up by pinning her team-mate for ippon.
The final pitted her against Brazil’s Rafaela Silva following a raft of shocks on the other side of the draw.
Silva started those off by beating Olympic champion Giulia Quintavalle of Italy in the second round with a sukeshi counter.
Germany’s Miryam Roper stunned world number two and Masters champion Telma Monteiro of Portugal in the same round, catching her with an ankle tap (kosoto-gari).
Silva slammed Roper in the semi-finals with a huge hip throw (o-goshi) and then flattened American Marti Malloy, who had knocked out Austria’s world number three Sabrina Filzmoser, with osoto-gari.
But in the final the unfancied Silva proved to be out of her depth and Sato dropped underneath her to flip her over with seoi-nage to claim the title.
Matsumoto came back to earn a bronze alongside Romania’s Corina Caprioriu.
The women’s under-52kg category ended in an all-Japanese final, just as it had done in Tokyo a year ago.
But this time it was Nakamura who finished on top as she reclaimed the crown she also won in 2009.
“In Tokyo she was more aggressive and I was passive so this time I tried to be more aggressive,” said Nakamura.
“I think this is a big first step towards the London Olympics but there are a lot of obstacles ahead so I must take one step at a time.”
Yuka Nishida had been the favourite as world champion and world number one but produced little in a dull final that saw Nakamura score the only minor point.
Spain’s former European champion Ana Carrascosa and Andreea Chitu of Romania took the bronze medals.