Yoshioka wins -48kg gold at WJC

Hikari Yoshioka was -48kg World Cadet Champion in 2019. Then the Covid pandemic hit and her international competition career was sidetracked for about two years. She returned to international competition early this year and won the European Open in Warsaw, fighting as a senior although she is only 19 years old. Now, she is also World Junior Champion having just won the -48kg gold medal in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Most top judokas have a few favorite throws and favorite ground moves but a few are specialists who seem to get by with only one or two moves. Yoshioka seems to be one of them. On the ground, she only seems to want to do an osaekomi turnover that’s quite popular amongst Japanese players, whereby tori goes on their back and flips uke over. With standing, she likes drop morote-seoi-nage.

In her first match, against Ho Lok Yi (HKG), Yoshioka did a morote-seoi-nage which did not score but it allowed her to go into her favorite osaekomi turnover. This is a move that she would do this time and again during this championship. Typically, Yoshioka would get one leg entangled but usually she is able to extract her leg very quickly and secure a hold-down, which is exactly what she did with Ho.

Next up, she did the same move on Khalimajon Kurbonova (UZB) except she ended up with mune-gatame instead of yoko-shiho-gatame.

She had a tougher time with Pauline Cuq (FRA). Although Yoshioka was able to turn over the French player with ease, she had some difficulty with extracting her leg. In fact, she had to do it twice before successfully pinning her opponent.

In her semifinal bout, Yoshioka once again used her favorite roll after Alexia Nascimento (BRA) attacked her on the edge of the mat. Both players fell outside the contest area but Yoshioka quickly dragged her Brazilian opponent back inside an proceed to roll her in yoko-shiho-gatame.

And with that fourth win with the exact same turnover, Yoshioka was in the final. There, she defeated Assunta Scutto (ITA) not with her osaekom turnover but with her favorite throw, morote-seoi-nage. She scored waza-ari with it but with a mere two seconds left in the match, it was as good as an ippon.

Watch Yoshioka’s wins at the 2022 World Junior Championships.