Inoue stays on top of the world

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The Independent Online

Japan, the founding country of judo, is accustomed to producing accomplished champions of the sport, but only once a generation does it produce a fighter like the light-heavyweight Kosei Inoue. World champion two years ago (in Birmingham) at the age of 21, Olympic champion at 22, and, yesterday, at 23, world champion again.

His judo is of the startling variety – traditional and lightning fast. He set alight the first day of the world championships in Munich in his opening fight against the Dutchman Eric van der Gees with a classic uchimata, an inner thigh throw just 40 seconds into the bout.

Everyone in his weight category has worn out the video replay button to find a chink in the armour. One approach is to defend – and Estonia's Martin Padar tried that; so did the Brazilian Mario Sabino and Ghislaine Lemaire from France. They all succumbed to a variety of throws. Ashkat Zhitkeyev of Kazakhstan, who chose to fight, lasted 40 seconds.

As expected Inoue took his place in final only to come face to face with the one man who has beaten him – Antal Kovacs, the Hungarian Olympic and former world champion. Kovacs silenced the crowd by achieving what no other competitor had been able to – he threw Inoue for a five-point score with maki-komi, the winding throw. Unperturbed, Inoue returned to the attack and dipped under Kovacs defence to produce a decisive rear throw to finish the match at a stroke.

Sadly, that kind of extravagant virtuosity is lacking from the British team, though there is certainly talent and a will to fight.

Heavyweight Karina Bryant started well, easily winning her first two contests. Mariyana Prokofiyeva, of Ukraine, was taken to the ground and held with mune-gatame (chest hold). And although Bulgaria's Tsvetana Bozilova went ahead on penalties, the 22-year-old kept calm, waited for her moment, and produced a strong hip throw for 10 points.

Bryant was still no match for Hua Yuan, the Chinese Olympic champion, who threw her twice, held her down, and went on to win the title with ease. To add insult to injury, Bryant lost the bronze to Germany's Sandra Koeppen and finished in fifth place.

Light-heavyweight Michelle Rogers also placed fifth. She lost to the eventual silver medallist, Yurisel Laborde in the first round, beat Laime Naudulaityte in the next, but saw her run ended by Uta Kuehnen.

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