Third Masters title for Ryuju Nagayama
The Budapest Master title for men U60kg was finally a 100% Asian story, since it was Ariunbold Enkhaivan (MGL) who joined Ryuju Nagayama in the final. It didn't take long for Nagayama to score a first waza-ari with a te-waza action. Making easy work of it, Nagayama was just waiting for the right moment to score a second waza-ari with a left seoi-nage.
Let's rewind the film a little since at -60kg another Japanese judoka attracted all eyes at the start of the competition. Four-time world champion and reigning Olympic champion, Naohisa Takato (JPN), although in a distant 16th place in the world, could have reasonably aimed for the final, if not the gold but he was eliminated by Won Jin Kim in the quarter-finals, having to settle for a possible bronze medal against Salih Yildiz (TUR).
The first waza-ari came from Takato, with a well timed ashi-waza technique, to which a perfect drive with the hands was added. With less than ten second to go, Takato didn't release the pressure, to pin down his opponent for a second waza-ari and a bronze medal. It was definitely not the medal he came for but once again Takato is on the podium of an international event.
Balabay Aghayev (AZE) and Won Jin Kim (KOR) met in the second match for a bronze medal. The beginning of the match was in favour of Kim, who clearly had the initiative and so Aghayev received a first shido for passivity. As Kim continued to put pressure on, he created an opening with a brilliant sutemi-waza but for no score unfortunately.
However, Aghayev received his second penalty. Not on the pace, the Azeri judoka had to find solutions to at least not be penalised a third time, which eventually came anyway with just eight seconds left on the clock left only. The bronze medal was for Won Jin Kim.
Accustomed to third places this season (Paris, Doha and Ulaanbaatar), Harim Lee (KOR) arrived in Budapest, with a well-deserved first place in the world, by accumulation. It was not enough however, since the Korean judoka fell in the first round against Tsogt-Ochir Byambajav (MGL). The latter could not link another identical performance to it though since in the next round Ryuju Nagayama left him no chance to believe in the gold medal.
Nagayama had shown from the first round that he was in great shape, performing the perfect move against Angelo Pantano (ITA) in the first round, as one of the ippon throws of the day. With a right handed guard, the Japanese athlete changed direction to dive left under his opponent's centre of gravity with a thunderous seoi-nage that literally orbited Pantano by ippon.
With Nagayama through in the semi-finals, all that remained was to know the name of his opponent for a place in the final. Won Jin Kim (KOR) couldn't do anything more and let the gold medal slip away.
Ryuju Nagayama took bronze at the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo against Takato, fifth in 2018 in Baku. Nagayama was World Junior Champion U60kg in 2015 and he won the World Cadet Championships in 2011 in Kiev U50kg. In 2016 and 2018 he won the Grand Slam of Japan and bronze in Tokyo in 2017. He took gold at the IJF Masters in 2017 and 2019 and silver last year in Jerusalem. This time he regained his Masters title in Budapest.