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Ueno wins gold, Rousey bronze

By the Associated Press
Posted Wednesday, August 13, 2008 7:22 AM ET

BEIJING (AP) -- Japan won its third judo gold Wednesday as 2004 champion Masae Ueno dominated the middleweight field and quickly sent Cuba's Anaysi Hernandez to the mat in a lopsided final.

Ronda Rousey smiles after becoming the first American female judoka to win an Olympic medal.
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Ronda Rousey smiles after becoming the first American female judoka to win an Olympic medal.

World champion Irakli Tsirekidze of Georgia won the men's 90-kilogram, scoring an early penalty point and then holding off Algeria's Amar Benikhlef, who failed to mount an offensive.

Heavily favored going in, Ueno plowed her way to the finals of the women's 70-kilogram judo competition, but a much-awaited showdown with world silver medalist Ronda Rousey failed to materialize when the American lost her quarterfinal bout.

Ueno and Rousey started powerfully, winning their first two bouts by ippon, a match-ending throw. Rousey, whose mother was world champion in 1984, easily pinned Nasiba Surkieva of Turkmenistan, then did it again against Katarzyna Pilocik of Poland.

Ueno began with a pin, then threw China's Juan Wang for what looked like an ippon win. The judges ruled it wasn't quite good enough, but Ueno came back seconds later with another throw that made the grade.

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Ueno took just over a minute to dispose of Anett Meszaros of Hungary for her semifinal spot, and won by waza ari, another kind of throw that can end a match, over Edith Bosch of the Netherlands for her place in the final. Her final with the unheralded Hernandez lasted less than two minutes.

In the quarterfinals, Rousey, who had trouble getting inside her taller opponent's arms, had to go into overtime with Bosch, and lost when the Dutchwoman unleashed a counterthrow with less than two minutes to go.

Rousey came back strongly in the repechage to take the first medal in women's judo for the U.S. since the event made the official Olympic roster in 1992. U.S. women won silver and bronze when judo was a demonstration sport in 1988.

Bosch won the second bronze.

Hernandez flipped Germany's Annett Boehm to win the other semifinal bout. Both won all their preliminary bouts with ippon.

In men's 90-kg, Hiroshi Izumi, the Athens silver medalist and a favorite to win in Beijing, was a major disappointment for Japan's men.

Japan won a record eight golds at Athens - five of them from the women. With only one from the men going into judo's fifth day, hopes were high in Tokyo that Izumi would come through for another.

But he struggled from the start, going into overtime in his first match and then losing by ippon to Andrei Kazusenok of Belarus.

Tsirekidze had little difficulty safely making it through the preliminary rounds.

In the semis, he pinned Ivan Pershin of Russia. France's Yves-Matthieu Dafreville fell with just 19 seconds remaining in his semifinal against Algeria's Benikhlef.

Working from a tough draw, the Netherlands' Mark Huizinga, who won bronze in Athens and silver at the 2000 Sydney Games, had a first-round match against Ilias Iliades of Greece, who won gold in a lighter class in Athens and silver at the 2007 worlds.

Huizinga went ahead early and scored an ippon to end the match with just over a minute left. He then lost to


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For the 2008 Olympic judo competition, there are 14 weight classes, identical to those used at the 2004 Athens Games.  Prior to the Games, a draw will be held to determine where each judoka is placed in his or her respective bracket. In each class, the top four judokas are seeded to ensure they do not face each other early in the main draw.

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