JUDO: Japan dominates World Champs in Tokyo … or did they, as France wins three golds

Akira Sone (JPN) becomes the youngest world champ ever at 19, defeating Idalys Ortiz of Cuba (Photo: IJF)

The 2019 World Judo Championships came back to its Olympic home, the famed Nippon Budokan in Tokyo where the sport was introduced to the Olympic Games in 1964. And as always, Japan topped the medal table – as it has in every Worlds since men and women have competed together in 1987 – with 15 total medals.

But this was not a complete domination by the Japanese, who won four gold medals, to three for France, among the 14 individual weight classes. That’s half as many golds as Japan won last year and its lowest total since 2013. But with 828 judoka from 143 countries competing, leading the medal table is still impressive.

Just three fighters repeated their titles from 2018:

Women/48 kg: Daria Bilodid (UKR)
Women/52 kg: Uta Abe (JPN)
Women/63 kg: Clarissa Agbegnenou (FRA) ~ Fourth Worlds gold

Japan’s Shohei Ono won his third world title at 73 kg and Czech Lukas Krpalek won a world title in a second weight class: he won at -100 kg in 2014 ad this time at +100 kg.

The French women scored three impressive wins, from Agbegnenou at 63 kg, Marie-Eve Gahie at 70 kg and Madeleine Malonga at 78 kg, with Agbegnenou and Malonga both defeating Japanese fighters in the final.

The final day saw two remarkable finals in the heavyweight divisions. Japan’s Akira Sone fought two-time World Champion Idalys Ortiz (CUB) to a draw in regulation time and the match went to golden score. Ortiz went out of the area and was disqualified, making Sone– at 19 – the youngest World Champion ever.

In the men’s +100 kg final, Krpalek became the first man ever to win both the -100 kg and +100 kg titles. In the final against Japan’s Hisayoshi Hirasawa, the 2018 Worlds bronze medalist, the match went to golden score and Hirasawa was disqualified for passivity after four minutes.

This Worlds will be remembered as a successful test event for the 2020 Olympic tournament, also to be held at Budokan, but also for the political impact of Iran withdrawing all of its fighters except so as not to meet any of the emerging Israeli team. The one who did complete, defending 81 kg champion Saeid Mollaei, was reported to have lost his semifinal and third-place matches on purpose – on orders from the Iranian government – to avoid competing against, or having to stand during the victory ceremony, with Israel’s Sagi Muki. Mollaei has reportedly asked for asylum in Germany.

Summaries from Tokyo:

IJF World Championships
Tokyo (JPN) ~ 25-31 August 2019
(Full results here)


60 kg: 1. Lukhumi Chkhvimiani (GEO); 2. Sharafuddin Lutfillaev (UZB); 3. Yeldos Smetov (KAZ) and Ryuju Nagayama (JPN).

66 kg: 1. Joshiro Maruyama (JPN); 2. Limhwan Kim (KOR); 3. Hifumi Abe (JPN) and Denis Vieru (MDA).

73 kg: 1. Shohei Ono (JPN); 2. Rustam Orujov (AZE); 3. Denis Iartcev (RUS) and Hidayat Heydarov (AZE).

81 kg: 1. Sagi Muki (ISR); 2. Matthias Casse (BEL); 3. Antoine Antois-Fortier (CAN) and Luka Maisuradze (GEO).

90 kg: 1. Noel Van’t End (NED); 2. Shoichiro Mukai (JPN); 3. Axel Clerget (FRA) and Nemanja Majdov (SRB).

100 kg: 1. Jorge Fonseca (POR); 2. Niyaz Ilyasov (RUS); 3. Michael Korrel (NED) and Aaron Wolf (JPN).

+100 kg: 1. Lukas Krpalek (CZE); 2. Hisayoshi Hirasawa (JPN); 2. Min-Jong Kim (KOR) and Roy Meyer NED).


48 kg: 1. Daria Bilodid (UKR); 2. Funa Tonaki (JPN); 3. Urantsetseg Munkhbat (MGL) and Distria Krasniqi (KOS).

52 kg: 1. Uta Abe (JPN); 2. Natalia Kuziutina (RUS); 3. Mejlinda Kelmendi (KOS) and Ai Shishime (JPN).

57 kg: 1. Christa Deguchi (CAN); 2. Tsukasa Yoshida (JPN); 3. Julia Kowalczyk (POL) and Rafaela Silva (BRA).

63 kg: 1. Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA); 2. Miku Tashiro (JPN); 3. Martyna Trajdos (GER) and Juul Franssen (NED).

70 kg: 1. Marie Eve Gahie (FRA); 2. Barbara Timo (POR); 3. Sally Conway (GBR) and Margaux Pinot (FRA).

78 kg: 1. Madeleine Malonga (FRA); 2. Shori Hamada (JPN); 3. Loriana Kuka (KOS) and Mayra Aguiar (BRA).

+78 kg: 1. Akira Sone (JPN); 2. Idalys Ortiz (CUB); 3. Kayra Sayit (TUR) and Sarah Asahina (JPN).


Team Event: 1. Japan, 2. France; 3. Brazil and Russia. Semis: Japan d. Brazil, 4-0; France d. Russia, 4-3. Final: Japan d. France, 4-2.