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Day 2 of the Tokyo Grand slam concludes the 2023 Judo Season on a high

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.

Coming in third place were Azerbaijan's Zelym Kotsoiev and Michael Korrel from the Netherlands, each taking home the bronze.

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.

“This is the only international (sporting) event we have, that’s held in Japan and so we must show true Japanese judo to the World. I believe that this is also a time when I can improve myself and take myself a step further. So, I feel that to win here is a very good thing.”

Standing on the third step of the podium were Israeli Gefen Primo and Mongolia's Sosorbaram Lkhgvasuren

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.

In third place came **Denis Vieru**and Hekim Agamammedov.

Mongolia Judo Association President, His Excellency Battulga Khaltmaa was on hand to deliver the medals.

Team Japan sweeps through the categories

In the women's under 78kg, Brazil's Mayra Aguiar secured her first Tokyo gold, after scoring waza-ari against Israeli opponent, Inbar Lanir.

Joining them on the third step of the podium are, Rika Takayama from Japan and South Korea's Hyunji Yoon.

Awarding the medals was IJF Ambassador Dr Antonio Castro.

The men's under 60kg class pitted compatriots against each other, with Ryuju Nagayama besting Olympic Champion Naohisa Takato for the top spot.

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.

Sweeping the bronze were fellow Japanese national, Taiki Nakamura and Independent neutral athlete, Ayub Bliev.

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.

Joining them on the podium for bronze were the Dutch judoka, Joanne van Lieshout and her Japanese counterpart, Mizuki Takaki.

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.

Tsunoda pinning down Figueroa at the Tokyo Grand Slam 2023
Tsunoda pinning down Figueroa at the Tokyo Grand Slam 2023 - International Judo Federation

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.

In third place came Catarina Costa from Portugal and Kano Miyaki, also from Japan.

Winners of the Women's under 48kg
Winners of the Women's under 48kg - International Judo Federation

All Japan Judo Federation Senior Managing Director, Soya Nakazato awarded the medals.

And finally, in the men's over 100kg class, Individual Neutral Athlete, Tamerlan Bashaev, ended the Grand Slam with a huge ippon against Kim Minjong from South Korea.

In third place came fellow Individual Neutral athlete, Inal Tasoev and Czech representative, Lukas Krpalek.

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!