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Japanese teen Kondo stars at world championships

CHELYABINSK, Russia -- Japanese teenager Ami Kondo set the first day of the World Judo Championships alight on Monday as she won the -48 kilogram title.

While the 19-year-old was the star, there was only disappointment for the home crowd in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk as Beslan Mudranov lost in the other final of the day, the men's -60kg to Mongolian Boldbaatar Ganbat.

His failure to land gold was poor reward for the efforts of the hosts who have draped the whole of the city — based in the southern Urals in the gateway to Siberia and with a population of over a million — in the colors of the championships.

The 7,000 capacity stadium, usually home to an ice hockey team, was virtually sold out.

Kondo, though, stole the show with a series of dazzling performances as she showed maturity beyond her years in disposing of more experienced opponents.

No more so was this in evidence than the final where she overwhelmed Argentina's 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Paul Pareto, almost 10 years her senior.

In winning the title she made up for the disappointment at last year's championships when Japan failed to take the gold with it going instead to Mongolia's Urantsetseg Munkhbat.

French woman Amandine Buchard and Cuba's Maria Celia Laborde took the bronze medals on offer with the latter giving Cuba their first medal in the championships since Yurisel Bermoy won a silver in 2007.

Mongolia may not have retained the women's title but they were more than compensated as 27-year-old Ganbat dashed European champion Mudranov's hopes in a gripping final which saw the winner win his first ever major medal to boot.

Jaopan's defending champion Naohisa Takato had to be content with bronze this time round while Amiran Papinashvili of Georgia also took a minor medal.

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Ami Kondo, of Japan, in white, competes with Paula Pareto, of Argentina, during the under-48 kg category final of the IJF World Judo Championship in Chelyabinsk, Russia on Monday, Aug. 25. (AFP)

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