Friday, November 13, 2009

Muneta completes Japan's judo sweep.

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Japan completed a clean sweep of all seven weight categories at the Kano Cup international men's judo tournament at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on Sunday

Having won the first four divisions on the opening day of competition, Japan added the 73 kilogram, 90 kg and over 100 kg titles to show the visitors who were still masters of the mat

Sunday's three finals were all-Japan affairs, with Yusuke Kanamaru winning at 73 kg, Yuta Yazaki at 90 kg and Yasuyuki Muneta taking the heavyweight crown

Muneta had to work long and hard for victory, though, first against the big Russian Tamerlan Tmenov in the semifinals and then against Hiroaki Takahashi in the final

Muneta, a hefty 130 kilograms for his 1.72-meter frame, was in trouble on both occasions, but found the mental and physical strength to fight back and win through

``There were times in both fights that I thought I had lost,'' said the fourth-year Meiji University student

``I wanted to win with my best judo, so I am not satisfied with this performance, even though I have the gold medal

``I have to improve my technical ability, because it was only concentration and aggression that got me through.'' When the Kano Cup was last held, in 1999, Muneta sprang a surprise by beating Tmenov in the final. Tmenov, a three-time European champion, would go on to take a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics

The Russian was regarded as the most prominent judoka from overseas to compete at the Budokan, with his power and balance his greatest assets

But a series of stoppages for Muneta, for a foot injury, the loss of a contact lens and treatment for a finger injury, all contributed to deny Tmenov the time to gain some momentum

Still, Tmenov got himself in position to win the fight by pinning Muneta to the mat

It looked to be all over for the motionless Muneta as the seconds ticked away, but somehow he broke free. The Russian coach slammed his towel into the chair in disgust

Muneta, who won the Asian Games gold medal at Pusan in October, was penalized three times in the final against Takahashi before throwing him over his left shoulder for an ippon with just 18 seconds remaining

Yazaki, another of Japan's reigning Asian Games champions, beat Hiroshi Izumi in the 90 kg final by wazaari, which came with 36 seconds remaining and leaving his opponent little time to strike back

``It was very hard because we attend the same university (Meiji) and know each other's techniques so well,'' said Yazaki

``My next goal is to win the gold medal at the Paris International next month, and hopefully get selected for the World Championships in Osaka.'' The 73 kg final was even tighter, as Kanamaru beat Masahiro Takamatsu on the strength of a single koka, the lowest of judo's four scores, awarded against Takamatsu for passivity after 1 minute, 11 seconds of the five-minute contest

Kanamaru had to change his jacket midway through the fight after splitting open his bottom lip and seeing the white judogi turn to red

He was far from happy with his performance

``I could not show my true fighting spirit,'' he said

``It's only the start of the season, and I have to think about these matches and try and win more firmly next time.''

Source Citation
"Muneta completes Japan's judo sweep." Asia Africa Intelligence Wire 13 Jan. 2003. Popular Magazines. Web. 13 Nov. 2009. .

Gale Document Number:A97805234

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