Abe Uta suffers her first loss in three years while her brother Hifumi keeps his hopes of an Olympic spot alive.
Women’s world number one Amandine Buchard has handed world champion Uta Abe her first loss on the IJF World Judo Tour since her debut event in 2016. Three-time Grand Slam winner Abe conceded her three-year winning-streak in added time. The 19-year-old was thrown after four minutes of golden score by the plucky Frenchwoman with a modified kata-guruma for a waza-ari score.
“I was, like, OK, we are in Osaka, we are in Japan, I am in the final against her, it’s a moment for trying to do it. And I did it and I’m really so happy with it,” Buchard said after her win.
She received her medal from Her Imperial Highness Princess Tomohito of Mikasa.
Olympic dream still alive for Abe Hifumi
Newly crowned World Champion Maruyama Joshiro and the man he dethroned – former World Champion Abe Hifumi, looked destined to meet in the final.
Abe blasted his way in there brilliantly and was seeking redemption. The final delivered the pulsating and tense atmosphere it deserved with both fighters displaying their exciting and attacking styles.
In the end, Abe beautifully countered the advancing Maruyama – levelling their head-to-head and keeping his Olympic dream alive.
Mr Yahsuro Yamashita, President of the All Japan Judo Federation, presented Abe with his medal.
“I’ve had many matches versus Joshiro Maruyama,” Abe said after the match, “and I’ve lost the last few in a row. So this time I had a strong feeling that I wasn’t going to lose. And I was victorious. So I think this has made me an even stronger judoka.”
All Japanese final
The -60kg final was another all Japanese affair. Former triple World Champion Takato Naohisa took on compatriot and current World Number One Nagayama Ryuju.
It was an intense encounter that was ultiamtely decided in Golden Score with a beautiful piece of Ashi Waza to win a record tenth Grand Slam gold medal.
This was awarded by Mr Haruki Uemura, President of the Kodokan.
More gold for the home team
It was former World Champion Tonaki Funa who took the spoils in the -48kg category. Up against Spain’s Julia Figueroa, a dominant display saw her first pin the Spaniard for wazari and then produce a wonderfully timed driving kouchi-gari to secure victory.
Japan’s Tamaoki Momo made short work of Lien Chen-Ling of Chinese Taipei in the -57kg Gold Medal contest. A lovely piece of skill was followed up on the floor where Tamaoki secured a decisive hold down.
In all it was an incredible 4 Gold Medals for Japan who showed their dominance on home soil.
Move of the day
Japan also provided our move of the day – an exquisite uchi-mata from -66kg Silver Medalist Maruyama Joshiro.