ATHENS, Greece - Two-time defending champion Masae Ueno earned Japan’s fifth gold medal in 10 judo events on Wednesday, extending her three-year undefeated streak in major international competition with an Olympic victory.
“I lost the gold medal in Sydney and I had to wait a long time to try again,” Ueno said after defeating Edith Bosch of Netherlands. “I was prepared to fight for the gold medal but now that I won, the feeling is unbelievable.”
Ueno was a heavy favorite in the 70kg class, and her showdown with Bosch was a contrast in styles and builds. Short and stocky Ueno used her low center of gravity against the taller and thinner Bosch, taking the Dutch athlete down about two minutes into the match.
Bosch was in tears after settling for the silver, and vowed revenge. “I’m telling you, I’m going to beat her the next opportunity I get,” Bosch said. Missing from the competition was defending world silver medalist, Regla Zulueta, who could not compete after defecting to the United States last year from Cuba.
The bronze was shared by Annett Boehm of Germany and Qin Dongya of China.
On the men’s side, Ueno’s teammate Hiroshi Izumi wound up with silver when he was defeated in the men’s 90kg title match by Zurab Zviadauri of Georgia.
As Izumi moved to get position, Zviadauri picked the Japanese competitor up, held him aloft, and then tossed him down. The gold medal came after the Georgian had lost in the last two world championships after holding the upper hand.
“When I arrived in Greece, I was well aware of the fact that Georgia had not had won a gold medal in 12 years,” Zviadauri said. “That is why I saw a great possibility for myself. I dedicate my medal to Georgia.”
He became the second Georgian-born competitor to win gold in judo in two days — although Illias Iliadis won for Greece on Tuesday in the men’s 81kg class.
“Of course I am very happy that another Georgian became Olympic champion, and I congratulate him,” Zviadauri said.
Khasanbi Taov of Russia took a bronze, along with Mark Huizinga of Netherlands. There are four events remaining in the judo competition.