Sunday, April 5, 2015

Suprise defeats in Japan -73kg division

Last December I wrote about how Japan was spoilt for choice in the -73kg division. That's because they had three world champions all still very active in competition.

Japan's 2010 World Champion Hiroyuki Akimoto made a surprise comeback in the 2014 Tokyo Grand Slam to defeat 2013 World Champion Shohei Ono in the final. This showed he was still very much in contention for the top spot. However, in both Akimoto and Ono's way for pole position is 2014 World Champion Riki Nakaya (who was also World Champion in 2011).

So, there you have it, three incredibly talented world champions in the -73kg division. But guess what, all three failed to make it to the final of the All Japan Weight Class competition this weekend.

Instead it was little known Soichi Hashimoto and equally unknown Takeshi Doi who made it to the final. In the end, Hashimoto prevailed and became the champion of the -73kg weight class. (Nakaya and Ono both got bronze).

What you are looking at right now in Japan is a weight class with up to five really good fighters. Japan is really, really, really, really, really spoilt for choice when it comes to the -73kg weight class.

You can watch the -73kg final between Hashimoto and Doi below:

Following the competition, it was Riki Nakaya who was chosen to represent Japan in the 2015 Astana World Championships. This makes sense since both Hashimoto and Doi have little experience competing at top international competitions and it is Nakaya who is the reigning world champion and not Ono.

However, as each country can send up to nine players (for seven weight classes), it's possible (and likely) that Ono will be chosen as an alternate for the -73kg weight class. It's worth noting in the 2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships, both Nakaya and Ono represented Japan.

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