Liggett and Kunihiro Place Seventh at Junior Worlds
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) - Jeremy Liggett (Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center) and Aaron Kunihiro (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE) each placed seventh on the final day of the Junior World Championships on Sunday in Bangkok.
Liggett, an alternate to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, won his first three matches in the 66kg division all by ippon (instant win), controlling each match and never giving up a score to his opponents en route to the quarter-finals.
Up by a yuko against Kantimur Bopoev (KGZ) in the first round, Liggett ended the match with an ippon 30 seconds later to advance to the second round where he beat Hussein Al-Jarrah (YEM) in the first minute.
Liggett continued his run of short matches in the third round when he defeated Walid Chellah (ALG) in the second minute.
Guaranteed the ability to continue fighting for a medal by his advancement through the first three rounds, Liggett struggled against Zsolt Gorjanacz (HUN) who led by a yuko (quarter-point) before winning the match by ippon in the final minute.
Gorjanacz would go on to win the silver medal, but Liggett was eliminated in his next match when he was down by a yuko before losing by ippon to eventual bronze medalist Massahi Ebinuma (JPN).
Kunihiro, a two-time Senior Nationals medalist, had a first round bye before a difficult second round against 2008 European Junior Champion Pierre Duprat (FRA). Kunihiro took an early lead when he scored a yuko in the first minute, but was given a penalty in the second minute. Under the new rules where scoring begins with a yuko, the first penalty does not count as a score for the other player and Kunihiro remained in the lead which he solidified when he scored a second yuko in the third minute. Duprat came back late in the match with a yuko score of his own, but Kunihiro won the match two yukos to one.
In the third round, Andrei Klokov (LTU) took an early lead when he scored a yuko against Kunihiro on the first exchange. Klokov's lead evaporated when he committed two penalties that gave Kunihiro a yuko of his own. With the clock running down and the match heading to Golden Score, Kunihiro won the match by ippon with two seconds left on the clock to advance to the quarter-finals.
Kunihiro found himself in the reverse situation in the quarter-finals, though, when he was down by two penalties against Catalin Iulian Bratulescu (ROM). Although Kunihiro tied the match with a yuko score late in the final minute, Bratulescu avoided overtime when he won the match by ippon with four seconds left.
Kunihiro dropped down to the repechage where he was won match away from fighting for bronze; however, Kunihiro fell short of the podium when Felipe Kitadai (BRA) pinned him for a waza-ari (half-point) in Golden Score.
The women's +78kg division also was contested on Sunday; however, Team USA did not have an entrant in the division.
Complete results are as follows:
1. Arsen Galstyan (RUS)
2. Tumurkhuleg Davaaroj (MGL)
3. Hirofumi Yamamoto (JPN)
3. Gabit Esimbetov (UZB)
5. Catalin Iulian Bratulescu (ROU)
5. Felipe Kitadai (BRA)
7. Alessandro Belverato (ITA)
7. Aaron Kunihiro (Wakefield, Mass. / NYAC / USA Judo National Team FORCE)
1. Ugo Legrand (FRA)
2. Zsolt Gorjanacz (HUN)
3. Sarkhan Ahmadov (AZE)
3. Masashi Ebinuma (JPN)
5. Mehmet Durmaz (TUR)
5. Filip Krizan (SRB)
7. Dulguun Davaasuren (MGL)
7. Jeremy Liggett (West Glenville, N.Y. / NYAC / USA Judo National Training Site at the Jason Morris Judo Center)
1. Megumi Tachimoto (JPN)
2. Ashley Fleming (GBR)
3. Svitlana Iaromka (UKR)
3. Ji-Youn Kim (KOR)
5. Aurore Quintin (FRA)
5. Angelique Heiny (GER)
7. Thonthan Bunduang (THA)
7. Julia Pfeifer (AUT)