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Tamaru Wins 5th Straight Judo Title

July 29, 2001

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MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ Japan’s Ryoko Tamura overcame a knee injury Sunday to win a record fifth straight title at the judo world championships.

Tamura needed a referee’s decision to edge North Korea’s Kyong-Ok Ri, the East Asian champion, in the under-106-pound division. She became the first judoka _ man or woman _ to win five straight golds at the worlds.

A delighted Tamura hopped after her victory and bowed to 2,000 flag-waving Japanese fans.

``I can’t say anything at the moment, it was such a tough fight,″ said Tamura, the Olympic champion who has lost just one bout since 1992. ``But now I want the sixth successive title also.″

Her gold was the fourth for Japan at the worlds. Japan led the standings with 10 medals. Russia had three golds_ its only medals _ while Cuba had eight overall but just one title. France had two golds and a bronze.

Tunisia’s Anis Lounifi became the first world champion from Africa on the final day of competition.

He captured the men’s under-145, while Russia’s Alexandre Mikhailin took the men’s open division and France’s Celine Lebrun the women’s open division.

Tamaru had been limping slightly as she worked her way through the preliminary rounds. She hurt her knee a few weeks ago in practice.

Tamuru spent the early part of her bout sizing up her opponent. Only during the final two minutes did she attempt takedowns, without much success.

Near the end, Tamuru had the North Korean pinned, but it didn’t bring her a deciding point. Both ended with a wasarai point _ given for inactivity _ leading to the tiebreaking referee’s decision.

``I am not happy about my second place, of course, but I promise here and now that I will win next time,″ Ri said.

Belgium’s Ingrid Berghmans won four straight titles in the 1980s, along with two open titles, a class that’s not an Olympic event. Four men have also achieved the feat.

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