Judo returned home for the first time since last year’s Olympic Games for the prestigious Tokyo Grand Slam.
A sold-out local crowd came to cheer on their judo heroes and Japan dominated the day’s competition.
Under 57 kgs
The under 57kg category saw an all-Japanese final, with World Silver medallist Haruka Funakubo, against former World Champion Tsukasa Yoshida.
A brilliantly-executed turnover saw Funakubo hold down Yoshida to stake her claim as the new number one in Japan.
Her Imperial Highness Princess Tomohito of Mikasa awarded the medals
Under 73 kgs
The under 73kg category saw another all-Japanese final with another former World Champion, Soichi Hashimoto, defeating up-and-coming Hayato Koga after an epic contest that went into golden score.
Soichi said he could feel the support of the audience. “Yes I was able to do my tai-otoshi, and I thought it was a perfect moment and technique. I could feel the crowd here and viewers at home supporting me,” said Soichi.
Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office of Hungary, His Excellency Dr. Gergely Gulyás, awarded the medals
Under 63 kgs
The under 63kg category saw yet another Japan vs Japan final where four-time World Medallist Miku Takaichi defeated youngster Seiko Watanabe in a tactical battle.
She was awarded her medal by Mr. Marius Vizer, IJF President.
Under 81 kgs
The home team’s dominance continued as a fourth Japanese final took place at the under 81kg class, with current Olympic Champion Takanori Nagase looking to cement his place as number one against compatriot Kenya Kohara, but Kohara had other ideas.
A clever sacrifice technique saw the underdog defeat the Olympic Champion. Kohara was elated.
Mr. Ernö Schaller-Baross, European Parliament Member awarded the medals.
Under 70 kgs
In the under 70kgs class, the international Judoka broke through the Japanese ranks for the first time at this Grand Slam, with Australia’s Aoife Coughlan having the day of her life.
In the final, she met Japan’s World Medallist Niizoe Saki who ended Coughlan’s run of success with a fantastic throw. The 5th gold for Japan.
Saki said the strength of the crowd assisted her. “I felt the crowd cheering and supporting me, I could feel everyone’s support not only from the venue but from the people watching at home – and this really helped me to do my Judo.”
The IJF EC Member & AJJF President, Mr. Yasuhiro Yamashita, was on hand to award the gold medal
Under 90 kgs
Another international Judoka on form was Olympic Silver Medallist Eduard Trippel who earned a spot to fight Japan’s Kosuke Mashiyama for the under 90kg title.
However, completing the full set on day one, Mashiyama ensured Japan took all six golds, an incredible feat.
Mr Haruki Uemura, IJF EC Member & Kodokan President, awarded the medals.
Young judoka from Tokyo got the opportunity during the event to perform a traditional Kata, known as Nage-no-kata, in front of the appreciative crowd, a fantastic opportunity for these judo fans!
The next generation of judoka gains invaluable experience on the big stage, showing that Judo is well and truly alive in the birthplace of Judo.