Teenagers Daria Bilodid of Ukraine and Abe Uta of Japan produced startling victories at the Paris Grand Slam as a new generation of champions emerged in the World Judo Tour’s flagship event.
The first Grand Slam of the International Judo Federation (IJF) season produced extraordinary drama at the AccorHotels Arena, with 17-year-olds Bilodid and Uta playing starring roles.
Canada celebrated its first gold medal at the Paris tournament through Christa Deguchi in the under 57 kilogram category, while Akil Gjakova became Kosovo’s first male winner on the IJF World Judo Tour as he triumphed in the under 73kg category.
European champion Bilodid, a Grand Slam newcomer, won the Paris tournament at her first attempt as she defeated Hohhot Grand Prix winner Kang Yujeong of South Korea in the under 48kg category with her trademark sankaku-gatame hold-down.
The world number nine has only once left an international event without a medal – that was at last year’s World Championships.
Bilodid had beaten Japan’s 2015 and 2017 world champion Tonaki Funa in the semi-final, with Kang earning her final place over former World Judo Masters bronze medallist Julia Figueroa of Spain.
The first bronze medal contest saw Tonaki fall to 2013 world champion Munkhbat Urantsetseg of Mongolia after 90 seconds of golden score.
Ukraine’s Maryna Cherniak defeated Figueroa in the other bronze medal contest.
Tokyo Grand Slam winner Abe, unbeaten since 2016, defeated France's Amandine Buchard, the World Judo Masters silver medallist, to win gold in the under 52kg category.
The Abe family appear ready to dominate the sport with older brother Abe Hifumi already the world champion and a five-time Grand Slam winner at just 20.
Japan’s teenage prodigy set the tone for her day by throwing Eleudis Valentim of Brazil after just nine seconds in her opening contest.
Buchard had beaten Japan’s Tsunoda Natsumi to reach the final, while Abe had defeated London 2012 bronze medallist Charline Van Snick of Belgium.
Astride Gneto of France beat Van Snick for bronze, and the other bronze match saw Distria Krasniqi of Kosovo beat Tsunoda.
Deguchi, a world junior silver medallist for Japan, defeated her old compatriot Yoshida Tsukasa, world silver medallist and top seed, to earn gold for her new country of Canada in the under 57kg category.
Yoshida had beaten Britain’s Nekoda Smythe-Davis in her semi-final, while Deguchi had reached the final with victory over Helene Receveaux of France.
Receveaux lost her bronze medal match against Kim Jisu of South Korea, and the other bronze went to the Briton, who beat Timna Nelson Levy of Israel.
France’s world champion and Olympic silver medallist Clarisse Agbegnenou earned her fourth overall victory at the Paris Grand Slam, beating Japan’s Tashiro Miku in the under 63kg final.
Tashiro had earned her final place with victory over Slovenia’s Olympic champion Tina Trstenjak, while Agbegnenou had defeated European Games winner Martyna Trajdos of Germany by ippon with an osoto-gari.
Trajdos beat Britain’s Lucy Renshall to bronze, while the other bronze went to Trstenjak, who defeated Japan’s Nabekura Nami.
Gjakova made history for Kosovo with victory over Georgia’s London 2012 champion and Rio 2016 bronze medallist Lasha Shavdatuashvili.
The Georgian was left perplexed after Gjakova registered the only score of the contest, by waza-ari, for a momentous victory.
Shavdatuashvili had beaten South Korea’s An Changrim in his semi-final, while the Kosovan had advanced with a win over Mongolia’s Tsendochir Tsogtbaatar.
The Mongolian won first bronze, An collected the second.
Japan’s Shishime Toru won his second Paris title in the under 60kg class, beating Uzbekistan’s Sharafuddin Lutfillaev.
Britain's Ashley McKenzie won the first bronze by beating Phelipe Pelim of Brazil.
France’s Cedric Revol took the other bronze on a walkover as Amiran Papinashvili of Georgia had been disqualified in his semi-final with Shishime for a dangerous action.
South Korea’s Olympic silver medallist An Baul got his 2018 season off to a winning start as he topped the podium at the expense of Japan’s Maruyama Joshiro in the under 66kg final.
An defeated Japan’s Isoda Norihito in his semi-final and Maruyama progressed over France’s Kilian Le Blouch.
Sebastian Seidl of Germany beat Le Blouch to bronze, and the other bronze went to Isoda after a win over Algeria’s Houd Zourdani.
Tomorrow the heavyweight elite will take to the tatami with the seven remaining weight categories to be determined.
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