World champion Uta Abe successfully defended her women’s under-52 kilograms title as action began today at the International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Prix in Hohhot in China.
The 18-year-old, who was making her first start of the season, beat Switzerland’s Evelyne Tschopp with a textbook uchi-mata in the final at Inner Mongolia Stadium.
She scored ippon with her favoured technique after 90 seconds to extend to 37 contests her winning streak on the IJF World Tour.
Victory secured Abe her third IJF Grand Prix title.
The first bronze medal was awarded to Canada’s Ecaterina Guica after Israel’s Gili Cohen, who initially led with a waza-ari score, sustained a knee injury after being thrown for a waza-ari score and could no longer continue.
Israeli teenager Gefen Primo claimed the second by registering a stunning win over three-time world medallist Andreea Chitu of Romania.
In the women’s under-48kg final, rank outsider Yu Sun Jon of North Korea defeated world number 29 Yao Xiong of China.
The world number 113 picked up two shidos after making a lethargic start but improved as the contest entered the final minute.
She eventually broke the deadlock with 25 seconds left, via a waza-ari score from a ko-soto-gake, and held on for her first IJF World Tour triumph.
Germany’s Katharina Menz and Israel’s Shira Rishony were the bronze medallists at the expense of Russia’s Sabina Giliazova and China’s Li Yanan, respectively.
There was also success for North Korea in the women’s under-57kg category after Asian-Pacific Championships winner Kim Jin A struck IJF gold for the first time in her career by overcoming Russia’s Daria Mezhetskaia in the final.
Mezhetskaia was denied a first IJF title by the world number 33 and first-time IJF finalist, who backed up her silver medal-winning performance at last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang by topping the podium.
China’s Lu Tongjuan beat Israel’s Timna Nelson Levy in the first bronze medal match before Canada’s Jessica Klimkait defeated France’s Sarah Leonie Cysique in the second.
There were also two gold medals for South Korea today thanks to success for Kim Won Jin and Kim Limhwan in the men’s under-60kg and under-66kg divisions, respectively.
Double world medallist Kim Won-jin produced the ippon of the day as he overcame Asian Championships silver medallist Yang Yung Wei of Chinese Taipei in his final.
He added a touch of class to proceedings in the men’s lightest weight category as he secured his fifth IJF Grand Prix crown with a sensational hane-goshi for ippon in his first competition of the year.
Düsseldorf Grand Slam silver medallist Kim Lim-hwan, meanwhile, beat Aram Grigoryan in golden score to send his country to the summit of the medal table.
Grigoryan was penalised in added time for passivity, which was his third offence, and the Russian had to settle for the silver medal as world number 41 Kim claimed his second IJF win and first since 2016.
The men’s under-60kg bronze medallists were South Korea’s Choi In-hyuk and Russia’s Albert Oguzov with North Korea’s Kim Yong-gwon and France’s Cédric Revol just missing out.
Rounding off the men’s under-66kg podium were Chinese Taipei’s Tsai Ming-yen and Mongolia’s Baskhuu Yondonperenlei.
Tsai beat France’s Daniel Jean prior to Yondonperenlei’s win over Russia’s Abdula Abdulzhalilov.
Action in Hohhot is due to continue tomorrow.
Watch all the action on Judo TV.