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'Judo Heartthrob' settles for silver at Asian Championships

04/20/2024 09:38 PM
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Taiwan's "Judo Heartthrob" Yang Yung-wei wrestle an opponent to the ground in this CNA file photo.
Taiwan's "Judo Heartthrob" Yang Yung-wei wrestle an opponent to the ground in this CNA file photo.

Taipei, April 20 (CNA) Taiwanese judo star Yang Yung-wei (楊勇緯) won a silver medal in the men's under-60 kilogram category at the Asian Championships 2024 in Hong Kong on Saturday.

Nicknamed locally as Taiwan's "Judo Heartthrob," the Olympic silver-medalist fell short of securing his first Asian Championships gold when he lost to Japanese judoka Taiki Nakamura in the finals.

Yang defeated three opponents Saturday to reach the final against Nakamura after being given a bye in the round of 32.

He first topped Laotian Soukphaxay Sithisane in the round of 16 with two "Seoi Nage" (over-the-shoulder throws) during the match, then ousted Indian Vijay Kumar Yadav in the quarterfinals with his signature "Ude Hishigi Sankaku Gatame" (triangular armlock).

He then went toe-to-toe with Nurkanat Serikbayev of Kazakhstan, who was responsible for halting Yang's journey at the 2023 World Judo Championships in Doha, Qatar in the round of 16.

With both judokas failing to best the other after the four-minute time limit, Yang and Serikbayev went into a sudden-death "golden score" overtime, where Yang came out on top to win his ticket to the finals.

Taiwanese judo star Yang Yung-wei displays his Asian Championships 2024 men's under-60 kilogram silver medal next to his coach Liu Wen-teng in Hong Kong on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Liu Wen-teng
Taiwanese judo star Yang Yung-wei displays his Asian Championships 2024 men's under-60 kilogram silver medal next to his coach Liu Wen-teng in Hong Kong on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Liu Wen-teng

Saturday was Yang and Nakamura's third career encounter, with Nakamura winning the previous two at the 2021 Summer World University Games held in Chengdu, China in 2023 and the 2024 Judo Grand Slam Paris.

Yang tried his best to get the upper hand over Nakamura on Saturday, and he was able to push their match into a sudden-death round as well.

Just as Yang was about to have Nakamura suffer a third "Shido" (light penalty) to win the match, however, the Japanese judoka was able to turn the bout around and take the championship, leaving Yang with the silver medal.

Yang's coach Liu Wen-teng (劉文等) told CNA that it has been difficult to come up with a strategy against the 21-year-old Japanese because he has only emerged on the scene in the last two years.

Liu said they had a good plan against Nakamura for Saturday's final, but it turned out not to be good enough for Yang to win his first Asian Championships.

Yang will try to continue to accumulate ranking points to qualify for this year's Summer Olympics in Paris at the upcoming 2024 Judo Grand Slam Astana in Kazakhstan and then the 2024 World Judo Championships in Abu Dhabi.

Once the tournaments offering qualification points for the Olympics have concluded, Liu said Yang will participate in off-site training in Japan.

(By Chen Jung-chen and James Lo)

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