Judo: Trstenjak makes Slovenia history as Japan dominate worlds

Gold medalist Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia (right) in action against Clarisse Agbegnenou of France during the final bout of the Judo World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan, Aug 27, 2015.
Gold medalist Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia (right) in action against Clarisse Agbegnenou of France during the final bout of the Judo World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan, Aug 27, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AFP) - Tina Trstenjak won Slovenia's first ever world title as Japan continued to dominate the world championships in Kazakhstan on Thursday.

Trstenjak beat reigning champion Clarisse Agbegnenou in the under-63kg final to gain revenge for her defeat to the Frenchwoman in the European gold medal encounter last year.

And after one silver and seven bronze medals since their independence from the old Yugoslavia, it was a first world title for Slovenia.

But Japan continue to set the benchmark a year out from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as Takanori Nagase won the men's under-81kg division.

Japan suffered a humiliating week in London three years ago when the country that gave birth to the sport flopped at the Olympics.

Their men failed to win a single gold medal and only Kaori Matsumoto saved face with victory in the women's under-57kg category.

She won her second world title in Astana on Wednesday and will be a clear favourite in Rio. But in traditional Japan it is the performance of the men that matters most. And it has been so far so good for the country that usually dominates the lightweight divisions.

A day after Shohei Ono beat compatriot Riki Nakaya to win under-73kg gold, 21-year-old Nagase upset 2013 world champion Loic Petri of France to claim Japan's first ever world title at under-81kg.

Nagase distracted Petri in ground fighting by manoeuvring for an armlock before switching into a hold.

He kept Petri pinned on his back long enough to score the maximum ippon - equivalent to a knock-out in boxing. It was sweet revenge for Nagase, who lost to Petri a year ago in Moscow for bronze.

Japan's men have two gold, a silver and a bronze medal from the four categories so far disputed, although their big men rarely match the lightweights' results. Their women have fared ever so slightly better with Misato Nakamura adding under-52kg gold to Matsumoto's title while a silver and two bronze medals have also been garnered.

With four gold and nine medals in total so far, Japan have already virtually assured they will finish top of the medals pile.

Yet Trstenjak did her best to hog some of the limelight with her first ever gold medal from a major tournament.

The Slovenian, who turned 25 three days ago, scored the winning half-point waza-ari score with a dropping shoulder-throw (seoi-nage).

Agbegnanou, 22, the big favourite, could not find an answer and took her second world silver medal after also reaching the final in 2013 in Rio, before triumphing in Moscow 12 months ago.

Trstenjak had taken bronze last year and earnt European silver medals the last two years. Israel's Yarden Gerbi, the 2013 world champion, was surprisingly beaten for bronze by Munkhzaya Tsedevsuren of Mongolia, having earlier lost to close friend Agbegnenou in the semi-final.

The second bronze medal went to Miku Tashiro of Japan, who lost to Agbegnenou in the quarter-finals.

In the under-81kg division, Georgia's 2014 champion Avtandil Tchrikishvili lost to Victor Penalber of Brazil for bronze with Canada's Antoine Valois-Fortier taking the other bronze medal, beating Lee Seung-su of South Korea, adding to his silver last year and bronze at the 2012 Olympics.