Can Yang Yung Wei win Judo gold in Antalya U60kg
If you thought the current World Ranked No. 1 was Russian or Japanese or French, you’d be wrong. A Russian is No. 2, a Japanese is No. 4 and a Frenchman is No. 6. The top spot actually goes to a Taiwanese.
Yang Yung Wei first created quite a stir at the 2019 Tokyo World Championships when he defeated one top player after another on his way to the quarterfinal.
His first bout was with Britain’s Ashley McKenzie, who was expected to win that one. Yang won with a drop seoi-nage. Next, he shocked everyone by defeating Russia’s Robert Mshvidobadze, a double European champion.
That brought him up against France’s Luka Mkheidze (who is now injured for many months) and then against the unorthodox Diyorbek Urozboev of Uzbekistan. On paper, he should have lost to both but he surprised everyone, including the livestream commentators, who probably didn't even know who he was before the competition. Few had heard of him at that point.
Yang very narrowly lost to Georgia’s Lukhumi Chkhvimiani in the quarterfinal but his good showing at the World’s made everyone realize there was a new rising star in the U60kg category.
Yang did well to get bronze in the 2019 Tashkent Grand Prix and the 2019 Osaka Grand Slam as well. In early 2020, he got silver at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and there as no judo for nearly a year.
In January 2021, he took part in, and won silver at, the IJF World Masters in Doha. After that he got third place in the Antalya Grand Slam and second place in the Asian Oceania Championships in Bishkek where he lost to Naohisa Takato of Japan.
The next time Yang would meet Takato would be in the final of the Tokyo Olympics, where he narrowly lost by penalties. Takato appreciated his guts in that final and held his hand up after the match.
In November last year, he took part in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam where he won gold, defeating Ramazan Abdulaev of Russia. This was Yang's first IJF World Tour gold.
Yang’s favorite throw is drop seoi-nage and he excels in newaza, especially sankaku. Whenever the match goes to the ground, he will try to finish off his opponent there. Many of them are aware of his groundwork prowess and seem to be wary of engaging him on the ground.
Yang is surely an exciting fighter to watch in the coming IJF World Circuit. Can Yang win another IJF gold medal?