ON a cold, rainy Monday morning, judoka Tomohiko Hoshina bustled through a souvenir store teeming with Olympic Village tenants, and greeted a handful of Japanese athletes with a bow and a smile before walking away.
Will he be flashing that same smile after his Olympic outing on Friday morning?
The answer will be known when Hoshina, son of a Japanese national married to a Filipina from Malolos, Bulacan, battles South Korean Kim Sung Min in one of the matches kicking off the heavyweight division as judo action comes to an end.
They will mix it up at 10:15 in the morning, with the 5-foot-8 ,270-pound Filipino-Japanese judoka going up against a 6-foot-3, 280 pounder from Gyungki, Korea, who steps onto the mat of ExCel arena armed with impressive credentials including stints in the world and Asian championships.
Hoshina said this is the first time he’ll play the Yongin University student, adding he’ll do his best to make his first Olympic stint a memorable one.
If he survives the Korean, Hoshina will meet one of the two tallest judokas in the divisions in the round of 16. They are Slovenia’s Matjaz Ceraj and Stanislav Bondarenko,both standing at 6-6, who will collide later in the program.
But the biggest star in the division and acknowledged as the face of the sport at present is no less than Teddy Riner of France, who goes into action as the judoka to win five world titles. He will open his Olympic bid against Janusz Wojnarowskcz of Poland in the first of 16 matches.
Hoshina, a high school teacher who earns $3,500 amonth, made it here through what is called continental allocation. He secured the slot after garnering 27 ranking points garnered during the 2011 world championship in Paris and 2011 Asian tournament.