2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships Preview - 73kg Back

August 6, 2014

2014 Chelyabinsk World Championships Preview - 73kg

The top positions in the IJF world rankings are held by Rok Draksic followed by Dirk Van Tichelt. That means they are top athletes who have garnered the most IJF most points. It doesn't necessarily mean they are the top favorites for that category though.

Rather, all eyes would be on Shohei Ono the gold medalist in the 2013 Rio World Championships. His joy was short-lived as he subsequently got mired in a physical abuse case at Tenri University, which resulted in a 30-day suspension from his school and a three-month suspension from the All-Japan Judo Federation.

"I deeply regret what I’ve done,” Ono said through a statement. "I apologize for my actions, especially with the All Japan Judo Federation trying to crack down on physical abuse in the sport.”

Ono has a very strong compatriot, Riki Nakaya who is a former world champion himself. However, in the recent All-Japan Weight Class Championships, Ono triumphed over Nakaya to clinch his position as Japan's top favorite. Nakaya will be going to Chelyabinsk as well, so Japan will have two strong contenders in this weight class.

Although he has been out of action for some time (thus the slide in his ranking to No. 10), the right-handed Ono is probably the top favorite for the gold. An uchimata specialist, he also has a very strong osoto-gari. Ono belongs to a class of players, much like Toshihiko Koga and Kosei Inoue, that favors the ippon and always goes for the big throws.

France's Ugo Legrand, the 2013 Rio finalist, and Mongolia's Khashbaatar Tsagaanbaatar, a former world champion, will be strong contenders for the crown as well. The Netherlands' Dex Elmont, just on the cusp of glory with two world championship silver medals to his name, could also pose a threat.

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