First gold medal won by Japan at the Tokyo Olympics in Judo
Kanako Mita and Chika Mori
Modern Tokyo Times
Japan won its first gold medal of the tainted Tokyo Olympics in judo. This will ease the pressure on other Japanese competitors because some famous athletes from the host nation faltered in other events. Therefore, Naohisa Takato was beaming after winning a tight final in the lightweight division (60-kilogram) for men in judo.
Japan had earlier won a silver medal in the same sport in the extra-lightweight division (48-kilogram) for women. Hence, despite Funa Tonaki being disappointed with silver after losing to Distria Krasniqi from Kosovo, she will look back with pride in the days and weeks ahead.
Takato won several bouts that could have gone either way before reaching the final. Thus it wasn’t a surprise that he beat Yang Wei Yang from Taiwan, by a match-deciding penalty, in a rather defensive bout.
The downside for Takato, like other athletes at the Olympics who want to feel amazing atmospheres, is that no spectators were allowed to view his victory. This concerns the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis and the current State of Emergency in Tokyo. Therefore, only a few privileged individuals and the media witnessed Takato winning the gold medal.
Takato said, “The fact that I was able to be a judoka in this building is something I can be proud of, and I made my dream come true because I got a gold medal in this building.”
Tonaki, despite the sadness, uttered, “I like to be myself, and I think I was able to do that. … For the first day of the Olympics, I think I was able to fulfill my responsibility of winning a medal.”
Ironically, Tonaki had beaten larger opponents in reaching the final and performed more dynamically than Takato who was extremely defensive. Indeed, Takato won two of his three bouts because of his opponents committing extra-time fouls. Similarly, his semi-final against Yeldos Smetov went into the golden score period. However, ultimately the defensive-minded Takato won gold, while the more expansive Tonaki won silver.
On a more negative note, more individuals connected to the Olympics have become infected by the coronavirus. Hence, the Olympics is in an endless battle against the coronavirus literally – and concerning the minds of the people who have mixed feelings about the Olympics.
Of course, for athletes at the Olympics, their concern is the sporting angle. Therefore, a gold and a silver for Japan in the opening judo events will bring smiles to people who love the Olympics.
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