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Asian Games: Judokas deliver more gold for Japan in Indonesia

Ruika Sato (R) of Japan competes with Park Yu-jin of South Korea in the women's 78-kilogram judo final at the Asian Games in Jakarta, on Aug. 31, 2018. (Kyodo)

JAKARTA (Kyodo) -- Japan continued to dominate the 2018 Asian Games judo competition on Friday, adding a further three gold medals to the five it had already won in Indonesia.

Ruika Sato logged the first gold for Japan, beating South Korea's Park Yu Jin with a leg sweep ippon in the women's 78-kilogram event.

"I was telling myself I had to win however I could and the waza (the last technique) came naturally," said Sato, the 2018 Grand Slam champion in the division.

"With the opportunity given to me, if I didn't win, I was thinking that there would be no next chance."

Next up, Kentaro Iida ensured Japan's golden run continued, but he had to work hard in the men's under-100 kg division.

His opponent, Cho Gu Ham of South Korea, pushed the bout into golden score time but lost the attritional battle by ippon after incurring three shido penalties.

"There are still more challenges, but winning here has given me great confidence," said Iida, who at 20 years of age became the youngest ever gold medalist in this event at an Asian Games.

"If I had lost at the Asian Games, people would have said that the difference (between me and my rivals) is widening and I would not be able to make it to the Olympics. I managed to salvage a tiny shred of hope," he reflected.

Reigning world women's over-78 kg title holder Akira Sone won Japan's final judo gold on Friday, beating Kim Min Jeong of South Korea.

The bout also went to golden score, and the Japanese managed to pull out the win with a wasa-ari point.

"As every opponent is really strong, I fought only with the intention of defeating whoever was in front of me," she said.

In the first gold medal final of the evening, Gwak Dong Han of South Korea defeated Mongolia's Altanbagana Gantulga in the men's 90 kg event.

The South Korean Rio Olympic bronze medalist reached the gold medal bout by shocking Japan's reigning Olympic champion Mashu Baker by ippon in the semifinal.

The Japanese bounced back to beat Uzbek Shakhzodbek Sabirov in the bronze medal bout to claim his first Asian Games medal.

"I was only aiming for the gold medal, so I feel very frustrated," said Baker, who revealed he has been battling a shoulder injury suffered during a training camp three weeks ago.

"I was worried about taking part in this competition," he said. "It was not that easy...(but) I have two more years (until the Tokyo Olympics), so I should overcome my problems and I want to keep going."

Japan's Takeshi Ojitani also failed to deliver in the men's over-100 kg event.

The reigning Asian Games champion and two-time Grand Slam winner lost his semifinal against South Korea's Kim Sung Min by ippon after he was adjudged to have committed a serious "hansoku-make" infringement.

His day then went from bad to worse when Tajikistan's Shakarmamad Mirmamadov dealt him an ippon defeat in their bronze-medal playoff.

Kim went on to defeat Duurenbayar Ulziibayar in the top-weight gold medal bout.

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