South Korea, China reach judo semifinals

Aug. 11, 2008, 4 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) World champion Wang Ki-chun of South Korea narrowly earned a slot in the men's lightweight semifinals at the Beijing Games on Monday and China's Xu Yan upset Japan's Aiko Sato to give the host country its second shot at a women's judo gold.

Xu, ranked 13th in the world in the 57-kilogram division, won on points awarded for penalties. She will be an underdog in her semifinal contest against Deborah Gravenstijn of the Netherlands, the only top 10-ranked athlete to make it past the final eight.

In the men's 73-kilogram class, Wang advanced to the quarterfinals easily, but had to go into overtime with Brazil's Leandro Guilheiro. He won on a match-ending "golden score" point.

He will meet Tajikistan's Rasul Boqiev in the semis. The other semifinal will be between No. 1-ranked Elnur Mammadli of Azerbaijan and Iran's Ali Malomat.

The women's field was exceptionally strong, and the preliminaries quickly decided the fate of several of the top athletes.

Gold medal favorite Kye Sun Hui, the Atlanta extra-lightweight champion, threw Austria's Sabrina Filzmoser, the European champion and No. 1-ranked this year, with an ippon in her first match. But the North Korean then lost to France's Barbara Harel, who is ranked second in the world, by waza ari.

Athens gold medalist Yvonne Boenisch of Germany lost her opening match on waza ari to Italy's Giulia Quintavalle, who defeated Harel for her semifinal berth against Australia's Maria Pekli.

"Yvonne had lost against this opponent already at the past World Championships," said Norbert Littkopf, Boenisch's coach. "It was a tough draw for everybody."

Third-ranked Isabel Fernandez, the Sydney gold medalist, went into overtime with Valerie Gotay of the United States in her opening bout, but won on points.

Men's was a more open field, with the gold and silver medalists from Athens not in the running.

In a match worthy of a final, Mammadli second-ranked and European champion Belgian Dirk van Tichelt for an ippon halfway through their first-round match.

Yusuke Kanamaru, third in the World Championships but making his Olympic debut, was a disappointment for Japan, crashing down to an ippon to Malomat in the first round.