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Reigning Olympic champions advance in judo

Aug. 10, 2008, 4:10 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Reigning Olympic champion Xian Dongmei of China made it through to the semifinals of the Olympic half-lightweight class Sunday for a chance to defend her title and get China its first judo gold.

Japan's Masato Uchishiba, the defending Olympic champion in the men's 66-kilogram class, won his quarterfinal match in style, getting down on the mat and throwing Uzbekistan's Mirali Sharipov.

Uchishiba started off with an ippon throw to end his first match, against Dominica's Juan Jacinto Jiminez, then outscored Iran's Arash Miresmaeili to earn his berth.

He will meet Yordanis Arancibia of Cuba, who is ranked third in the world this year. The other semifinal will be between Pak Chol Min of North Korea and France's Benjamin Darbelet.

Xian, in the women's 52-kilogram division, also started off with an ippon throw 1 minute, 21 seconds into her opening match against World No. 1 Ana Carrascosa of Spain.

The win was a big hurdle for Xian, who is representing China although compatriot Shi Junjie is the 2007 world champion. Carrascosa was favored to win the bout and possibly the gold.

Xian was to meet Algeria's Soraya Haddad in the semifinal later Sunday. The golds in both men's and women's were also to be awarded Sunday.

Misato Nakamura, Japan's champion but one of its weaker shots at a gold, earned her slot by beating Germany's Romy Tarangul, the world No. 3, and Belgium's Lise Heylen. She will pair off with North Korea's An Kum Ae in the final four.

The early rounds of the men's saw two big upsets.

World Champion Joao Derly of Brazil won his first bout with a koka, but was then beaten by Portugal's Pedro Dias. World No. 1 ranked Zaza Kedalashvili, the European champion, also lost in overtime in his opening bout to Hungary's Mikios Ungvari, who is ranked No. 2 in world standings.

"My trainer and I agreed before the match that no matter what happened in the first four minutes, in the end I had to push him down to the mat and give him everything I have," Ungvari said.

Ungvari later lost to Russia's Alim Gadanov.