Czech Olympian Lukas Krpalek gains heavyweight gold at the Judo World Championships

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By Daniel Bellamy
Czech Olympian Lukas Krpalek gains heavyweight gold at the Judo World Championships

On the seventh day of the Tokyo World Judo Championships, 100kg Olympic Champion Lukas Krpalek was on top form, holding down Korea's Kim Minjong for ippon in his semi-final.

But it might have been a diferent outcome if ten times World Champion, Frenchman Teddy Riner, hadn't been absent from the heaviest men's category this year.

There was a tight second semi-final between 2018 World Champion Guram Tushishvili and Japan's heavyweight hopeful Harasawa Hisayoshi.

The home favourite progressed to the final by countering Tushishvili's kosoto gari and holding the Georgian Champion down to secure the ippon. With this victory Harasawa had bested his 2018 World Bronze medal

Looking to defeat Krpalek to secure a heavyweight title for Japan for the first time since Muneta in 2003, Harasawa fought hard but ultimately the Olympic Champion overcame him.

Krpalek will now head towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics wearing both the Olympic and World Champion titles on his shoulders.

"I feel very well. It is an amazing day for me. I win world title in two categories, in 100 in 2014 and this year’s in heavyweights," Krpalek said.

The over 78kg category saw Idalys Ortiz, no stranger to a World Final in her eighth battle for a World Medal, face off against Japanese youngster Sone Akira. After a tense fight it was Sone who would take the red backpatch to firmly set Japan ahead in the medal table.

"I have a great friendship with Abe Uta and we work hard together in training camps and to be able to win the gold medal together at this competition is something very special," Akira said.

Japan had more over 78kg success with 2018 World Champion Asahina Sarah securing a bronze medal with just five seconds of the contest left against Brazil's Maria Suelen Altheman.

And for one last time at the historic Nippon Budokan, the spirit of Anton Geesink was channelled by Dutch powerhouse Roy Meyer with an early tai otoshi against 2018 World Champion Guram Tushishvili to take home a fourth medal for The Netherlands.

The move of the day came from Brazil's Beatriz Souza with a spectacular harai goshi against Nina Cutro-Kelly of the USA.