Olympics-Judo-Judoka Tonaki one bout from Japan’s first Tokyo 2020 gold

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Judo -  Women's 48kg - Semifinal
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Judo – Women’s 48kg – Semifinal – Nippon Budokan – Tokyo, Japan – July 24, 2021. Funa Tonaki of Japan reacts REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

July 24, 2021

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese judoka Funa Tonaki reached the final in her 48kg class on Saturday, leaving her just one bout away from winning her country’s first Tokyo 2020 gold medal later in the day.

Tonaki, a one-time world champion making her Olympic debut, won a nailbiting semi-final with an ippon – judo’s equivalent of a knockout – by pinning beat Ukraine’s Daria Bilodid in Golden Score overtime.

Japan’s triple world champion Naohisa Takato, a bronze medallist at the Rio 2016 Games, meanwhile reached the semi-final in his 60kg class.

He also had a close shave in his quarter-final in the 60kg class, winning during Golden Score overtime on a foul by his Georgian opponent Lukhumi Chkhvimiani.

Earlier in the day in the elimination round of 16, Takato delivered an ippon against Belgian Jorre Verstaeten.

Tonaki, 25, earlier defeated Paula Pareto of Argentina and Hungary’s Eva Csernoviczki.

In between matches at the eight-sided Nippon Budokan, which was built for the previous Olympics that Japan hosted in 1964, sanitation workers poured disinfectant spray over yellow tatami mats to minimise the risk of a coronavirus infection, while blaring pop, rock and dance music was used to generate an atmosphere before bouts.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; editing by John Stonestreet)