TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan’s Takanori Nagase won the men’s -81kg judo gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics by beating Saeid Mollaei of Mongolia in the final, extending the gold rush by Japanese judokas.
Rio bronze medallist Nagase’s victory marked a fifth judo gold medal for hosts Japan at the Games, edging them closer to their previous Olympic record of eight titles in 2004 in Athens.
In a gruelling final that lasted over 5-1/2 minutes, the 27-year-old Nagase, an uchimata inner thigh throw specialist, delivered an ashi-guruma foot wheel to throw Mollaei down on the tatami mats to earn a waza-ari sudden death overtime victory.
Shamil Borchashvili of Austria and Matthias Casse of Belgium were awarded bronze.
When the judge confirmed his win, Nagase burst into tears.
“That was the moment when my goal of winning Olympic gold was met, so I couldn’t help but shed tears,” Nagase told reporters after the presentation ceremony.
Four out of Nagase’s five matches went into Golden Score overtime.
“I’ve been fully prepared for tough matches. Given tough competitors, I’ve tackled every single match as finals,” he added.
In the women’s -63kg category, Rio silver medallist Clarisse Agbegnenou finally got her hands on the top prize by defeating Tina Trstenjak in the final.
The win allowed the Frenchwoman to avenge her defeat by the Slovenian judoka in the Rio Games final in 2016.
Italy’s Maria Centracchio and Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard of Canada claimed bronze medals.
Earlier on Tuesday, the 28-year-old Agbegnenou, five times a world champion, took just 20 seconds to secure an ippon victory by taniotoshi valley drop against Sandrine Billiet of Cape Verde in the elimination round of 16.
Japan’s Miku Tashiro suffered a crashing ippon knockout defeat by Agata Ozdoba-Blach of Poland in the round of 16. The Polish judoka was subsequently beaten by Centracchio in the quarter-finals.
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ken Ferris)