Tsunoda wins Japan's first gold of judo world championships

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Three in a row: Japan's Natsumi Tsunoda poses with her gold medal
Three in a row: Japan's Natsumi Tsunoda poses with her gold medal

Natsumi Tsunoda won her third successive global title on Sunday as judo superpower Japan collected their first gold medal of the world championships.

Tsunoda, 30, beat the number world one Shirine Boukli of France by ippon in the under-48kg category in Doha, adding to the titles she won in Tashkent in 2022 and Budapest a year earlier.

Wakana Koga also won one of the bronze medals for Japan, with the other going to Assunta Scutto of Italy.

In the men's title of the opening day, Spain's Francisco Garrigos added the world gold in the under-60kg category to the European championship he won last year.

Garrigos beat Dilshodbek Baratov of Uzbekistan in the final, while Giorgi Sardalashvili of Georgia and Lee Ha-rim of South Korea each took bronze medals.

These championships mark the return to competition of Russian and Belarusian judokas, albeit as neutral competitors, after they were banned in reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

A Russian, Sabina Giliazova, was in action in the women's under-48kg category on Sunday but was beaten in the second round by Blandine Pont of France.