Koga wins Japan's first gold

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The Independent Online


reports from Makuhari, Japan

After a first day of disappointments, Japan won its first gold medal of the World Championships here yesterday when their Olympic champion, Toshihiko Koga, made a sensational comeback.

Koga, the 27-year-old who has felt duty bound to return to national service and attempt to win another gold medal at next year's Olympics at Atlanta, was no longer capable of making the lightweight level and had to move up to light middleweight.

Opponents worried by Koga's reputation as a shoulder-throw specialist tried to keep him at arms length with all manner of ingenious defences. But it was all to no avail and it was Koga's favourite throw that beat Oren Smadja, of Israel, in the final.

In an earlier round, Smadja's Iranian opponent was disqualified after he refused to fight him. Ali Chamanpa was following Tehran policy which requires Iranians to "ignore anything related to Israel" the head of the Iranian delegation, Gholamreza Ebrahimi, said.

Britain have yet to win a medal of any colour. Yesterday, only light middleweight Diane Bell was near one, winning three fights, but then losing the semi-final and her second repechage fight.