Welcome back to Tokyo, where the world’s best judokas are competing in the final event of the year. In a prestigious showcase of judo, where every match counts, who will rise to the occasion?
It’s day two of the 2023 Tokyo Grand Slam and fans are in a frenzy.
After an intense and phenomenal first day of competition, athletes are back on the tatami mats to fight for glory.
The word of the day: Ippon!
In the men’s under 100kg class, the 22-year-old Matvey Kanikovskiy started the finals off in top form, surprising his 18-year-old Japanese opponent and current junior world champion, Dota Arai, with a hikikomi-gaeshi in just 40 seconds to score ippon. As he claimed his Tokyo gold, Kanikovskiy also claimed his third Grand Slam title of the year as well as his fifth title in as many attempts.
Awarding the medals was IJF Head Referee Director, Florin Daniel Lascau.
Welcome to the Abe show
In the women’s under 52kg category, four-time World Champion and current Olympic champion, Uta Abe ploughed through her opponents to reach the final. Facing France’s Astride Gneto, she turned the match into a quick one and done, ending the final in the first minute with an ippon, delighting the local crowd!
When addressing the press after her victory, the gold medallist detailed her motivation.
IJF Ambassador Her Imperial Highness Princess Tomohito of Mikasa awarded the medals.
Uta wasn’t the only Abe showcasing their skills today to collect some prized hardware.
Her older brother, Hifumi Abe, the current Olympic and world champion made his return to international competition in Tokyo following his 3rd world title defence in Doha earlier this year. Coming in with a 36-match winning streak stretching back to 2019, all eyes were on him.
In the men’s under 66kg category, Hifumi Abe did not disappoint as he took only 10 seconds longer than his sister did in her final to take yet another top spot on the podium.
Facing off against Baskhuu Yondonperenlei, Abe threw his opponent with an o-soto-gari to score ippon and secure an 11th grand slam gold medal.
Mongolia Judo Association President, His Excellency Battulga Khaltmaa was on hand to deliver the medals.
Team Japan sweeps through the categories
Awarding the medals was IJF Ambassador Dr Antonio Castro.
During the final, Nagayama threatened to throw Takato to his right side with uchi-mata, before switching to the left to drop underneath him with seoi-otoshi and score ippon, catching Takato completely unawares.
IJF Honorary Member, Nobuyuki Sato, awarded the medals
Meanwhile, tearing her way through the women’s under 63kg was Miku Takaichi.
Facing off against Kirari Yamaguchi in the finals, both fighters gave each other a tough challenge. In the second minute of the golden score, Yamaguchi attacked with uchi-mata. However, Takaichi transitioned into ne-waza, turning her opponent over and holding her using tate-shiho-gatame for ippon.
Awarding the medals was IJF EC Member & Kodokan President, Haruki Uemura.
In the women’s under 48kg category, current and three-time world champion, Natsumi Tsunoda, remained unbeatable.
During her match against Spain’s Julia Figueroa, into submission, securing her second Gold medal in Tokyo.
But that’s not all, Tsunoda’s recent dominance of her weight class has been rewarded with a maiden selection to represent her country at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
All Japan Judo Federation Senior Managing Director, Soya Nakazato awarded the medals.
Awarding the medals was IJF Head Referee Director, Armen Bagdasarov.
Closing 2023 on a win
To the delight of the home fans, the Japanese athletes won the day, taking home a total of 16 medals, including seven gold!
Some key moments from this year’s tournament include Japanese legends Arai and Ono taking to the tatami against some of their toughest opponents yet… An inspiring moment for kids across the world.
After the second and last day of competition, the medal rankings are:
In first place – Japan with sixteen medals – seven gold, five silver, four bronze
In second place – South Korea – one gold, one silver, two bronze
In third place – Brazil – one gold and one silver
In fourth place – Netherlands – one gold and two bronze
In fifth place – Azerbaijan – one gold and two bronze
That’s a wrap for another Tokyo Grand Slam and another incredible year of the World Judo Tour! Join us again in 2024!