Japan laid down more markers for the impending home World Judo Championships as they won two golds and three silvers in the five final events at the International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Prix in Budapest today.
With the IJF World Championships due to take place in Tokyo from August 25 to September 1, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics looming beyond them, these are critical times for home judoka – and they are responding positively to the challenge.
In the women’s under-78kg class, former world junior champion Tomita Wakaba, now 22, earned her first senior IJF gold against Tunisia’s Nihel Cheikh Rouhou of Tunisia after the latter forfeited the contest after picking up three shidos – penalties – in the contest.
Bronze medals went to Idalys Ortiz of Cuba and Yan Wang of China.
Japan’ second gold on the night came from their All Japan Openweight Championships winner Aaron Wolf, who picked up his fourth Grand Prix gold medal with a win over Tel Aviv Grand Prix bronze medallist Grigori Minaskin, a first Grand Prix finalist from Estonia.
Cho Gu-ham of South Korea and Simeon Catharina of the Netherlands won bronze medals.
Ruita Sato made a bold bid to win the women’s under-78kg but found Brazil’s double world champion and double Olympic bronze medallist Mayra Aguiar just too strong as the latter edged past in golden score after Sato was penalised for passivity.
Bronze medallists at this weight were Natalie Powell of Britain and Cuba’s Kaliema Antomarchi.
In the men’s under-90kg category, Shoichiro Mukai took silver in his final against Spain’s world number one Nikoloz Sherazadishvili as the latter won his second Grand Prix title on ippon.
Cuba’s Ivan Silva Morales and Georgia’s Beka Gviniashvili earned bronze.
The last contest of the night, the men’s over-100kg, saw another silver going to Japan as Kokoro Kageura was beaten by Israel’s Or Sasson eight seconds into golden score.
Eighteen-year-old Hungary judoka Richard Sipocz won bronze in first IJF World Tour event, amid scenes of high emotion, and the second bronze went to Georgia’s Gela Zaalishvili.
Watch all the action on Judo TV.