Judo great Saito's farewell ceremony held

Judo great Saito's farewell ceremony held
People pay their respects before a picture of Hitoshi Saito at a farewell ceremony at a hotel in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Sunday.

The judo world bid farewell to Hitoshi Saito, a two-time Olympic champion who died on Jan. 20 at the age of 54 at a hotel in Tokyo on Sunday.

About 1,300 people, including Yasuhiro Yamashita, Saito's longtime rival and the current vice president of the All Japan Judo Federation, participated in the ceremony.

"[Mr. Saito] made me a judoka with guts," said national team's coach Keiji Suzuki, the gold medalist in the over-100-kilogram class at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Suzuki was coached by Saito while at Kokushikan University.

Saito won gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and 1988 Seoul Olympics in the over-95-kilogram class.

He was diagnosed with bile duct cancer at the beginning of 2014. While receiving radiation therapy and other treatment, Saito attended the World Judo Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in August last year and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, the following month.

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