It had been an agonizing contest — with over eight minutes of golden score, two times longer than a regulation match — between two of the world’s finest lightweight judoka, with neither surrendering an inch under the lights at Budapest’s Papp László Arena.
But, with a deft koshi-guruma throw, Sumiya Dorjsuren scored a decisive waza-ari to become the new -57kg world champion.
That she had beaten Japanese world No. 1 Tsukasa Yoshida made victory all the more special. After three days at the 2017 World Judo Championships, Japan has taken all five of the other gold medals on offer.
Khaltmaa Battulga, the newly-elected president of Mongolia, watched on with pride, just meters away from the action.
“Today is a great day for Mongolia and we still have good judoka to come,” said Battulga, who rose to fame as a martial arts star in his own right, before becoming president of the Mongolian Judo Federation, and finally the entire nation.
“We won against Japan and took the first title for a non-Japanese athlete. Mongolian judo is becoming the number one sport in my country. But judo is much more than a sport; it is discipline, education and respect.
“In judo we bow to each other. Today we have discovered the new heroes of Mongolia.”
Dorjsuren had to be content with silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, having lost out to Brazil’s Rafaela Silva.
Here, standing atop the podium, she was unable to hold back the tears as the Mongolian flag was raised and her national anthem played out.
The 26-year-old is Mongolia’s fourth world champion, following in the footsteps of Khashbaatar Tsagaanbaatar (-66kg, 2009) Urantsetseg Munkh (-48kg, 2013) and Ganbat Boldbaatar (-60kg, 2014).
Yoshida walked away with the silver medal, with France’s Helene Receveaux and Great Britain’s Nekoda Smythe-Davis taking bronze — the latter winning her nation’s first world judo medal since 2010.
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In the men’s lightweight division (-73kg), Japanese world No. 1 Soichi Hashimoto beat Azerbaijan’s Rustam Orujov with a decisive seoi-nage in golden score to secure his first ever World Championship gold.
Hashimoto, nicknamed the Ippon Hunter, is now undefeated in over 30 contests — a run stretching back to 2015.
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Day four at the World Championships sees the fight for the middleweight world titles.