Having failed to take a World Judo Tour gold medal since 2016, South Korea's An Changrim upset the form book with a win over the world number one Soichi Hashimoto.
Day Two of the Hohhot Judo Grand Prix in China saw a spectacular opening ceremony that celebrated the city’s Mongolian cultural heritage.
The woman of the day was Sanna Van Dijk of the Netherlands. She took on a star-studded field in the under 70-kilogram division, eventually meeting Canada’s Kelita Zupancic in the final, winning with a counter-attack that scored a waza ari.
It was a great start to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification period for the Dutchwoman, who hit the ground running in Hohhot against some top opposition.
''I just really wanted to fight hard and see how it would end,'' she said.
The man of the day was Korea’s An Changrim, the under 73-kilogram world number three.
Having failed to take a World Judo tour gold medal since 2016, he reached the final with some great judo, including a spectacular ippon against China’s Xu Rigang.
In the final he faced the world number one and world champion Soichi Hashimoto, upsetting the form book with a pressure point score as he narrowly deflected a Hashimoto counter-attack to win the contest.
It was an example of the fine margin between victory and defeat in the sport of judo.
It was a great win for An, which will give the Korean confidence in the future.
‘‘I haven't won a world judo tour event since 2016 and it has become a habit for me to lose at these big events,'' he said. ''To be able to overcome this was one of my main goals for this tournament, so to be able to do this was a big relief for me. I have known and fought against Hashimoto since university, so we know each other inside out. To be able to beat him here on such a stage is a big achievement for me.''
Japan were on point in the under 81 kilograms, with Takeshi Sasaki in great form.
Having defeated Russia’s Alan Khubetsov by ippon, he then made short work of their reigning Olympic Champion Khasan Khalmurzaev in the final.
In the early stages of the bout, he countered his opponent for a waza ari. He then went on the attack himself, adding a second waza ari to win the contest and complete an impressive performance to earn his first World Judo Tour gold medal.
The move of the day came from Germany’s Anthony Zingg, who overcame the experience of Russia’s Musa Mogushkov to take the under-73 kilogram bronze in spectacular fashion.