Japan's world champion Sone Akira became the first judoka to secure their place at next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo by topping the podium on the final day of the International Judo Federation (IJF) Osaka Grand Slam.
Akira had the opportunity to qualify for the women’s over-78 kilogram event following the All Japan Judo Federation High Performance Committee determining all reigning world champions who claimed gold in Osaka would represent the host nation next year.
The 19-year-old, the winner of individual and mixed team world titles in Tokyo earlier this year, comfortably progressed through the early rounds at Maruzen Intec Arena Osaka.
She faced the challenge of Cuba’s London 2012 Olympic champion Idalys Ortiz in a rematch of the World Championship final.
Akira earned victory with a golden score against the three-time Olympic medallist, the result guaranteeing her of competing at a home Games next year.
Japan’s Sarah Asahina claimed the first bronze medal in the division by beating her team-mate Wakaba Tomita, whole Brazil’s Beatriz Souza overcame France’s Julia Tolofua to round off the podium.
While Akira was the sole Japanese judoka to seal their Olympic berth, several key head-to-head contests may have had a key impact on the host nation’s qualification process.
Mami Umeki won her duel with 2018 world champion Shori Hamada in the women’s under-78kg event.
Umeki, the 2015 world champion, secured a victory by ippon in the all-Japanese gold medal contest.
Another all-Japanese medal match saw Mao Izumi beat Rinoko Wada to win the bronze medal, while France’s Fanny Estelle Posvite overcame her compatriot Audrey Tcheumeo to take the final podium place.
A third and final Japanese gold medal of the day was earned by Ryunosuke Haga in the men’s under-100kg competition.
The Rio 2016 bronze medallist continued his recovery from injury by beating Azerbaijan’s Elmar Gasimov in the final with a waza-ari score.
Bronze medals were claimed by Japan’s Kentaro Iida and Aaron Wolf, who overcame Uzbekistan’s Mukhammadkarim Khurramov and Russia’s Arman Adamian.
Georgia’s Beka Gviniashvili won the men’s under-90kg title by achieving an ippon in a golden score period against Uzbekistan’s Davlat Bobonov.
Japan’s Shoichiro Mukai beat his compatriot Kenta Nagasawa in the first bronze medal match, with the second seeing South Korea’s Donghan Gwak triumph against Mammadali Mehdiyev of Azerbaijan.
Russia’s Inal Tasoev boosted his hopes of competing at Tokyo 2020 by winning the men’s over-100kg heavyweight title.
The 21-year-old beat Japan’s Hyoga Ota with a waza-ari score.
Japan’s Kokoro Kaguera and Uzbekistan’s Alisher Yushpov won the bronze medals, courtesy of wins over Yusuke Kumashiro and Daigo Kagawa of Japan.
Watch all the action on Judo TV.