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Scarsdale's Higashi in World Judo Championships

SCARSDALE, N.Y. -- This was not the way Shintaro Higashi envisioned himself going into the World Judo Championships, with an injury. The Scarsdale graduate has a torn pectoral muscle, which has hampered him, but Higashi refuses to make excuses in the most important tournament of his life.

 The World Judo Championships opened Tuesday and run through Sunday, in Paris, France. Higashi, currently ranked second in the United States in the 220-pound weight class, is aiming to secure a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Judo Team.

 “I will have surgery after the Worlds,” said Higashi, who is also ranked in the top 50 in the world. “It’s not severed completely. It is extremely painful, but I have to fight because it is the Worlds.”

As a result of his injury, Higashi has had to make an adjustment in his approach. “It has been very educational,” Higashi said. “I’ve been working around the injury. I am leading with my left and using a lot more technique.”

This is not the first time Higashi has had to adjust in a sport. During his senior year, Higashi wrestled in the 215-pound weight class. He bumped up a weight class for sectionals and won the 2003 Section 1 275-pound weight class.

 “Even with the injury everything has been going well,” Higashi said. “I did a lot more running and flexibility work. I also focused on studying more videos of my opponents and myself.”

This is Higashi’s second trip to the World Judo Championships. He participated at the Worlds last year and said he did not do well. Higashi learned from that experience and it helped prepare him for this year.

“Last year it was really overwhelming,” Higashi said. “I got a little choked up with the large crowds and it being televised throughout the world. This year, I know what to expect. I made a lot more sacrifices this year and I am mentally sharp and focused. This is exactly what I want to be doing.”

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