Sunday, April 2, 2017

Japan's World Championship team (men)... so far

The All-Japan Weight Class Championships is over and with its conclusion most of Japan’s 2017 Budapest World Championship team members have been selected. This competition serves as the trials for the World’s and generally the winner is the one who is selected to go but on occasions the Japanese judo federation will choose a player based on his or her international track record. Here is the men's team:

Nagayama (left) upset Takato in the -60kg class.
Naohisa Takato lost yet again to Ryuju Nagayama (he recently lost to him at the 2016 Tokyo Grand Slam) in the -60kg division. However, since Takato is the more experienced and tested player, Japan will be sending both players to Budapest. It’s worth noting that at the 2017 Paris Grand Slam, Nagayama crashed out in the second round while Takato won the gold with ippons in every match.

Hifumi Abe easily secured his place as Japan’s -66kg World contender while Soichi Hashimoto earn his spot at -73kg. It would have been interesting to see if Hashimoto could have beaten Shohei Ono who had skipped this competition and thus forfeited his chance to go to the Worlds.

Takanori Nagase won his fourth All-Japan title and in doing so earned his spot at -81kg. Mashu Baker crashed out in the first round of the -90kg division after sustaining a serious shoulder injury. Little-known Shoichiro Mukai subsequently won the gold. The Japanese judo federation prefers to send Baker, an Olympic gold medallist, but that would depend on whether he is physically able to compete by then. His injury might not be healed in time for Budapest.

Wolf (left) beat World Champion Haga in the -90kg class.
Aaron Wolf upset Olympic bronze medallist Ryunosuke Haga for the -100kg title and has been selected for the World team. It’s not clear if Haga will be sent as a second player in that division. It’s possible as each country can send up to a total of nine players for each gender.

Takeshi Ojitani won the +100kg title but the Japanese federation will wait until the All-Japan Open Championships on April 29 to decide who the heavyweight representative will be. It’s understood that Hisayoshi Harasawa, who had given France’s Teddy Riner a good fight in Rio 2016, is favoured. But he had crashed out in the semi-finals. He will have to win the All-Japan Open title if he wants to wrestle the spot from Ojitani.

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