TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese judoka Uta Abe triumphed in the women’s 52kg category in Tokyo on Sunday, hours before her brother Hifumi took gold in the men’s 66kg final, making history as the first siblings to win gold medals on the same day.
The feat came a day after triple world champion judoka Naohisa Takato secured Japan’s first gold medal with victory over Taiwan’s Yang Yung-wei, underscoring the strength of the host nation at the sport born here 140 years ago.
In a bright start to the Games for Japan amid a resurgence of the coronavirus outbreak, its team secured two further golds on Sunday, in swimming and skateboarding.
Uta, 21, dominated her bouts in the 52kg category, but was taken deep into Golden Score overtime in the final against Amandine Buchard of France, eventually pinning her down on her back and holding on for the win.
“This was a dream for us,” Uta told reporters, when asked about achieving simultaneous golds with her brother. “It makes me believe dream comes true as long as I try to achieve it.”
Uta and Hifumi hugged and congratulated each other after the post-match ceremony, she said, adding that her brother always goes ahead of her to lead the way.
“I was touched by how they encouraged each other,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Twitter in congratulating the Abes.
In the semi-final, Uta threw Odette Giuffrida of Italy, also in overtime, to clinch a waza-ari victory.
In the round of 16 against Brazil’s Larissa Pimenta, Uta went for a pin to score an ippon victory, and in the quarter-final a waza-ari was enough to beat Britain’s Chelsie Giles.
The bronze medals went to Odette Giuffrida of Italy and Chelsie Giles of Britain.
In the men’s final, Hifumi Abe, 23, defeated Georgia’s Vazha Margvelashvili to take gold. Bronze medals went to Baul An of South Korea and Daniel Cargnin of Brazil.
“I didn’t feel any pressure but rather it made me crave for it,” Hifumi told reporters, when asked how Uta’s gold medal affected his performance in the final. “Today is the best day of my life.”
He had thrown Brazil’s Daniel Cargnin to win by ippon – judo’s equivalent of a knockout – in the semi-final.
Earlier, he made his way through the elimination round of 16 in the 66kg category in a tight bout with Kilian Le Blouch, throwing the French athlete to the tatami mat to score an ippon victory in sudden death overtime.
In the quarter-final, he saw off Baskhuu Yondonperenlei of Mongolia with a waza-ari.
Defending Olympic champion Majlinda Kelmendi lost by waza-ari in overtime to Reka Pupp of Hungary in the women’s 52kg elimination round of 32. Now 30, Kelmendi became Kosovo’s first Olympic gold medallist in Rio in 2016.
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Additional reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Ed Osmond and Hugh Lawson)