TOKYO, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Japan's Shohei Ono successfully defended his Olympic title in the men's -73kg judo, becoming the first judoka to claim multiple gold medals in the category.
It is also the host nation's fourth Olympic gold in judo at the Tokyo Games.
One of the most intense battles of the day started in the men's -73kg quarterfinal between home favorite Ono and Rustam Orujov of Azerbaijan, who had lost to Ono in the final at Rio 2016. However, Orujov failed once again, thumping the tatami with disappointment after Ono won with an ippon.
Ono then downed Tsogtbaatar Tsend-Ochir of Mongolia in the semifinal, before clinching gold by defeating London 2012 men's -66kg champion Lasha Shavdatuashvili of Georgia in the final, to become the fourth male judoka from Japan to win multiple gold medals.
"Moving through the semifinals and the final, I felt more scared than I ever have, so the fact that I was able to still win, maybe it was something beyond just my ability," Ono said. "As for now, I will focus on the mixed team event."
"At the time of the Rio Olympics, I was younger, and I was able to win the gold medal with my youth and also momentum. I was able to win the gold medal because of perseverance. It was so tough," he added.
Silver medalist Shavdatuashvili was magnimous in defeat. "Of course, it is always disappointing when you lose the final, but this was the best fight, the best contest, the best battle in the final between us and the best fight of the day."
Bronze medals went to Tsend-Ochir and South Korea's An Chang-rim.
In the women's -57kg event, Nora Gjakova scored Kosovo's second judo gold medal at Tokyo 2020, beating France's Sarah Leonie Cysique in a final which was ended early due to a head-dive by Cysique.
Japan's Tsukasa Yoshida and Jessica Klimkait of Canada took the category's bronze medals.
"This gold medal is really unbelievable," said Gjakova. "After Distria [Krasniqi, who won women's -48kg gold for Kosovo on Saturday] won and when I congratulated her, she came and said this is easier than winning a Grand Prix or Grand Slam, and her words really motivated me, so I tried to do my best."
Speaking of her semifinal with Gjakova, Yoshida said, "I prepared a lot and trained for the katsugi waza [carrying technique] and thought that might bring me to the final, but my rival was like a rock. When I lost, I was very shocked. I thought maybe I needed more time, but I knew that I had to stay focused, and that's how I engaged myself into the bronze medal match."
In the round of 32, China's Lu Tongjuan beat Daria Mezhetskaia of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team, but lost to Yoshida by an ippon in the next round.
Lu's first appearance in the Olympics was tough but memorable when Mezhetskaia scored first with a waza-ari.
"My coach told me to stay calm, so I pulled myself together and eventually won in golden score," the 31-year-old told Xinhua. "I have done the best I could do."