TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan’s Aaron Wolf and Shori Hamada grabbed gold medals in their respective judo finals on Thursday, taking the host nation’s tally to eight golds from the sport at the Tokyo Games and matching their record haul from Athens 2004.
Wolf, 25 and world champion in 2017, threw South Korean Cho Gu-ham to secure a dramatic ippon victory that ended more than five minutes of gruelling Golden Score sudden-death overtime in the men’s -100kg final.
It was the first time in 21 years that a Japanese judoka had dominated the -100 kg category at the Olympics.
Wolf, whose mother is Japanese and whose father is from the United States, raised his fist in victory and burst into tears when he won the final. He later said he had used painkillers on both his bad knees the previous day.
“What I’ve done up until now paid off finally, so I felt the surge of emotion,” he told reporters.
“I was just brought up as Japanese in the low city area of Tokyo. Japanese athletes of mixed parentage are increasing, so I hope that will help diversity among Japanese as a whole.”
Earlier, Wolf beat Uzbekistan’s Mukhammadkarim Khurramov to make it to the quarter-finals, where he overcame Israel’s Peter Paltchik.
In the semi-finals, Wolf beat Georgian Varlam Liparteliani, the world number one and Rio silver medallist, with a dynamic o-uchi-gari throw to score a waza-ari victory.
South Korea’s Cho won silver, while the bronze medals went to Jorge Fonseca of Portugal and Niiaz Iliasov of the Russian Olympic Committee.
In the women’s -78 kg division final, 2018 world champion Hamada defeated French world number one Madeleine Malonga with a quick and solid pin to win the gold medal.
Earlier, Hamada, 30, had pinned Beata Pacut of Poland for an ippon victory in the elimination round of 16, then beat Aleksandra Babintseva of the Russian Olympic Committee via a sliding lapel choke to reach the semi-finals.
Hamada, ranked two in her division, beat German Anna-Maria Wagner with a cross armlock for an ippon victory in the semi-finals.
The bronze medals went to Wagner and Mayra Aguiar of Brazil.
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Peter Rutherford, Toby Davis and Clare Fallon)