The Opening Ceremony is in the books and the 2020 Olympic Games are officially here – albeit a year later than intended. The festival of sport that brings recognition to events and competitors that don’t usually have the spotlight is always a great time on the sporting calendar and one sport that often stays under the radar is martial arts. Here we take a look at the potential winners in some of the judo and taekwondo classes in Tokyo.

Women’s Judo U48kg

Formerly a medal locked around Japanese necks, the U48kg weight class has been a little more diverse over the last decade. Olympic champion Paula Pareto (15/1) of Argentina is back, but she has never quite stepped back to the same level of form she found in Rio five years ago. The favorite is Kosovan Distria Krasniqi (2/1) who has picked up four titles on the World Judo Tour in the last year and a half. Japan’s best hope for a medal here is Funa Tonaki (5/2) and Ukrainian Daria Bilodid (5/2) has been a complete enigma since Covid-19 seemed to take her focus away from the sport

Pick: Bilodid is the pick as long as her head is in the right place at 5/2

Men’s Judo +100kg

Can French legend add a third Olympic gold medal to his collection to add to his astonishing 10 world titles and four European crowns. Riner has lost just two bouts since 2008 and he is the 1/4 favorite in Tokyo thanks to his combination of mental and physical dominance over the field. His main rivals for gold will be Japan’s Hisayoshi Harasawa (5/1) and World Championship silver medallist Tamerlan Bashaev (11/2) of Russia.

Pick: It would take a brave soul to pick against Riner at 1/4.

Men’s Judo U100kg

Jorge Fonseca (3/1) is the double World Champion and he is looking to add Olympic gold to his medal haul. His balance of brute force and skill – not to mention his devastating Osota-Gari – make him a big-time contender here. His main rival will be Georgian Varlem Liparteliani (2/1) who knows that at 32-years-old this might be his last chance to snag an Olympic gold. That factor will push Liparteliani, but may also leave him open to a mistake.

Pick: Take Fonseca at 3/1.

Men’s Taekwondo U68kg

There are a number of athletes in this Olympics with the weight of a nation on their back and one such situation is in the men’s taekwondo U68kg weight class. Lee Sae-Hoon (14/10) hit bronze in Rio and silver in London, so he is aiming to complete a set of Olympic medals for South Korea here. The 29-year-old has won three World Championship and his biggest rivals for gold here will be Bradly Sinden (26/10) of Great Britain and Mirhashem Hosseini (7/2) or Iran.

Pick: Sae-Hoon will win this as long as he is able to cope with the crushing pressure of South Korea in a sport the nation invented.

Other Martial Arts Picks

Men’s Judo U90kg Lasha Bekauri (4/1)
Men’s Judo U81kg Takanori Nagase (7/2)
Women’s Judo U52kg Uta Abe (9/20)
Men’s Taekwondo U58kg Jang Jun (4/10)
Women’s Taekwondo U57kg Jade Jones (15/20)

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