Judo: Harasawa bounced by Czech Krpalek in heaviest class at world championships though Japan top tally

Lukas Krpalek celebrates after defeating Japan's Hisayoshi Harasawa at the 2019 Judo World Championships in Tokyo, on Aug 31, 2019.
Lukas Krpalek celebrates after defeating Japan's Hisayoshi Harasawa at the 2019 Judo World Championships in Tokyo, on Aug 31, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Czech giant Lukas Krpalek beat Japan's Hisayoshi Harasawa to capture judo's world heavyweight title on Saturday (Aug 31) and fire a warning for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

The hulking 28-year-old won half-heavyweight gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and looked ominously strong after stepping up to the +100kg class.

Entering with a roar at Tokyo's iconic Budokan, venue for the 1964 Tokyo Games and next year's Olympics, Krpalek was awarded victory after Harasawa picked up his third penalty deep into the golden score.

Harasawa, the 2016 Rio Olympic silver medallist, had stunned Georgian giant Guram Tushishvili in the semi-finals, robbing him of his world title.

In the absence of France's Olympic champion Teddy Riner, the 27-year-old ran out of steam in the final, although he still secured an upgrade on the bronze medal he won at last year's world championships in Baku.

Earlier, Japanese teenager Akira Sone bagged gold on her world championship debut, upsetting Cuba's former Olympic champion Idalys Ortiz in the women's heavyweight final.

The 19-year-old Asian Games gold medallist quickly forced Ortiz onto the back foot, sustained pressure bringing a third penalty against the +78kg division's top-ranked fighter and giving her victory.

"All I was thinking about today was winning that gold medal," said a sweat-drenched Sone after capturing Japan's fourth gold of the week.

"I was determined not to show any weakness or give her any opening because she's so strong. I didn't care how I won, I just wanted it so badly.

"I tried to attack and set the tempo," added the Fukuoka native. "The goal now is to do the same at the Tokyo Olympics and make sure I win gold there too."

Japan's defending world champion Sarah Asahina had to settle for bronze.

Japan top the medals table after Joshiro Maruyama, Uta Abe and Shohei Ono bagged golds earlier in the week. The hosts have also picked up six silver and five bronze medals.

France have won three gold medals but no silvers and just two bronze.

Japan also dominated the 2018 world championships in Baku, capturing eight of the 15 gold medals available.

But the host nation could face more resistance at the Olympics on the evidence of the past week, the amuse-bouche to next summer's main event.