Japan claimed victory in the two women’s events held today at the International Judo Federation (IJF) Junior World Championships in Zagreb as Uta Abe and Haruka Funakubo came out on top in the respective under 52 kilograms and under 57kg competitions.
Düsseldorf Grand Prix winner Abe became the second world champion in her family by living up to her billing as the under 52kg favourite at the Croatian capital’s Dom Sportova Arena.
The 17-year-old, who already has a strong presence on the IJF World Tour, had to beat her team-mate and three-time Junior European Cup winner Chishima Maeda to emerge victorious and she did so with a waza-ari score from an o-uchi-gari.
She follows in the footsteps of older brother Hifumi, winner of the men’s under 66kg gold at the 2017 Senior World Championships in Budapest.
The first bronze medal was won by Romania’s Cleonia Raciu, a narrow winner over Belgium’s Myriam Blavier.
The second was claimed by Azerbaijan’s Nazakat Azizova after her contest against Mongolia’s Khorloodoi Bishrelt went to golden score.
The women’s under 57kg final saw Funakobo seal the successful defence of her title.
The 19-year-old defeated former Ulaanbaatar Grand Prix winner Enkhriilen Lkhagvatogoo of Mongolia with a hold down, ensuring she won all five of her contests by ippon.
Funakobo is undefeated in international competition and looks poised for inclusion in this year’s Tokyo Grand Slam at the beginning of December.
South Korea’s Kim Jisu beat North Korea’s Kim Ji Hye to the first of the two bronze medals before Belgium’s Mina Libeer held off home favourite Tihea Topolovec to clinch the second.
Among today’s male winners was junior Pan American champion Daniel Cargnin, who overcame Uzbekistan’s Artyom Shturbabin to win Brazil’s first medal in Zagreb.
The 19-year-old, a junior world bronze medallist in 2015, caught two-time and reigning junior Asian champion Shturbabin off guard with an ashi-waza movement.
It earned him a waza-ari with 30 seconds left on the clock.
Tajikistan’s Somon Makhmadbekov and Georgia’s Bagrati Niniashvili were the bronze medallists as Azerbaijan’s Yagub Javadov and Italy’s Manuel Lombardo just missed out on a podium place.
The other male victor was Azerbaijan’s Hidayat Heydarov, who signed off from the junior age group with under 73kg gold.
The 20-year-old European champion pinned Turkey’s Bilal Ciloglu with a tate-shiho-gatame before turning to apply a juji-gatame, forcing his opponent to submit.
Kazakhstan's Didar Khamza won the first bronze medal match to the disappointment of Ukraine’s Hievorh Manukian.
He was joined by Georgia’s Tato Grigalashvili, who later overcame Brazil’s David Lima.
Action in Zagreb is due to continue tomorrow when competition will be held in the men’s under 81kg and under 90kg categories and women’s under 63kg and under 70kg divisions.
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