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Another Ono No-Show

Another Ono No-Show

23 Jun 2022 09:00
by JudoCrazy and JudoInside
IJF Emanuele Di Feliciantonio / International Judo Federation

Fans of judo superstar Shohei Ono will be disappointed to learn that he won’t be competing in the upcoming Ulaanbaatar Grand Slam despite initial reports that he would be.

He was also slated to compete in the 2022 Asian Games this year but that competition, which was to be held in Hangzhou in September, has been postponed to next year due to the Covid-19 situation in China.

And if you were hoping to catch a glimpse of him at the 2022 World Championships in Tashkent, you would again be disappointed as he was not chosen to represent Japan on account of the fact that he had skipped the All-Japan Weight Class Championships, which served as the trials for the World’s. Soichi Hashimoto will be Japan’s -73kg representative in Tashkent.

Like the other judo superstar Teddy Riner, Ono has not fought any international matches since the Tokyo Olympics last year. That’s a long time without any competition.

Ono in general does not compete much, though a bit more than Riner. But that is not saying much since Riner barely ever competes. In 2021, Ono only competed in the Olympic Games. In contrast, Riner actually competed in one other competition besides the Games.

In 2020, Ono competed in only one competition, as did Riner. It should be pointed out that in 2020 there were very few competitions due to Covid-19. But even prior to the onset of the pandemic, Ono did not compete much. In 2019, he competed in only two internationals, as did Riner. In 2018, he competed in three competitions (Riner didn’t compete at all that year).

The lack of participation doesn’t seem to have hurt Ono’s performance much. He still won the 2019 World Championships and the Olympics quite easily. The same cannot be said for Riner, who had put in a lackluster performance at the Tokyo Games.

Ono is not getting any younger (he is already 30 years old) and he might soon find himself suffering from the same problems Riner faced for not competing much.

These days, the massive Frenchman no longer fights like he did in his prime. Riner’s movements are sluggish and his uchimata doesn’t seem to be working anymore. It’s hard to imagine Ono being sluggish and having an ineffective uchimata but one does get rusty when one doesn’t compete much.

Ono’s decision to not compete much may come back to haunt him as he aims for a historic third Olympic gold medal bid. If he wins that third Olympic gold, Ono would surpass the great Tadahiro Nomura who has three Olympic gold medals and one World title. In comparison, Ono already has three World titles.

With so much at stake one can’t help but wonder why he isn’t competing more.

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