Fans in attendance at the Nippon Budokan got to witness a traditional Budo performance to open the final block and set the scene for what was to come in the home of Judo.
On the tatami, Uta Abe of Japan was on hand to set the arena on fire and become our Woman of the Day.
She made it look easy on the way to the semi final, setting up the Contest the Judo World have all been waiting for. The 18 year old phenomenon vs the reigning Olympic Champion from Kosovo Majlinda Kelmendi – for the first time ever.
In what was an extremely close contest, it was the incredible Abe who took the win in Golden Score, after managing to turn over and pin Kelmendi. Placing her in the final to defend her 2018 World Title.
“I have been longing to fight with her for a long time now. I really wanted to beat her. So, it has given me so much confidence now that I know I can beat her,” said Uta Abe in an interview.
In the -52kg final, Abe would be up against the experienced Natalia Kuziutina of Russia. This would not change anything for Abe, who needed just 30 seconds to dispatch her opponent and claim her second World title in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
The medal was presented by the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office of Hungary Mr. Gergely Gulyás.
Our Man of the Day was Joshiro Maruyama, who gave Japan plenty more to get excited about.
Maruyama had given an uchi mata master class on the way to the semi final, where he would have to battle Uta Abe’s brother Hifumi Abe. In an impressive head to head battle, it would be Maruyama who came up with the goods. Almost 4 minutes into Golden Score, Maruyama switched it up and executed a sacrifice throw catching Abe for a waza-ari, defeating the reigning World Champion to book his place in the final and a potential Olympic spot, as well as ending the reign of the Abe siblings.
Stood across from Maruyama in the -66kg final would be World Number 29, Korea’s Kim Limhwan.
An uchi mata for a waza-ari, shortly followed up with an koshi guruma for ippon, giving Maruyama the win and his first World title. His gold win also ensured that host nation Japan topped the medals standings at the end of Day 2 of the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo.
Mr. Gianni Merlo, President of the International Sports Press Association, presented Maruyama his gold medal.
“The moment I realised that I had won the final, and heard the crowd go wild, I really realised how many people were cheering for me and supporting me, and I think that I was able to show them that I was number one today,” said Joshiro Maruyama in an interview.
Move of the Day
And finally, in judo, anything can happen. And it was Kachakorn Warasiha from Thailand who provided our Move of the Day in a preliminary contest against Finland’s Katri Kakko.