On Day 2 of the Osaka Grand Slam in Japan, the home nation’s Champions put on a real show.
Starting with an explosive osoto gari, three-time World Champion and double Olympic bronze medallist Masashi Ebinuma was on fire, throwing whichever way he wanted.
Not to be outdone, 2016 Rio Olympic Champion Shohei Ono also threw in every direction. Forward techniques, sacrifice throws, and his own textbook osoto gari to match Ebinuma. And it wouldn’t be Ono if there wasn’t his trademark uchi mata.
Ebinuma and Ono, triple World Champion and Olympic Champion.
After a fantastic final, it was Ono who came out on top. Managing to counter his compatriot, he cleverly rode Ebinuma’s attack, turning him onto his back to take the -73kg gold medal, and become our Man of the Day.
"As a Judoka I practise at Tenri University, so the Grand Slam in Osaka is on our home ground. To be able to win this new title, here in Osaka, I am just very very happy," Shohei Ono said in an interview.
Canada's Klimkait our Woman of the Day
Our Woman of the Day was Canada's Jessica Klimkait, who produced the performance of her career to take her first ever Grand Slam title today, with an accomplished display of judo.
A dropping sode attack started Klimkait's day, and she continued in this fashion all the way to the final, dropping under each opponent, and dominating all of her fights. The Canadian was on top form at a crucial time in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualification period with the season-ending World Judo Masters two weeks away.
In the -57kg final, Klimkait defeated the home favourite Momo Tamaoki with another swift dropping technique. The Canadian became the first non-Japanese judoka to claim gold so far in this tournament after two days of competition in Osaka.
Needless to say, Klimkait was absolutely overwhelmed at her achievement, with tears of joy as the magnitude of her personal achievement in Japan began to dawn on her.
"This is probably the biggest competition win that I’ve had. Yeah, I’m definitely really happy. it’s, I don’t know, it feels not real right now," Jessica Klimkait said in an interview.
Tactical victory for Japan's Doi
In the -63kg category, The Hague Grand Prix bronze medallist Masako Doi took a tactical victory over her compatriot and Asian Games winner Nami Nabekura to earn a spot on top of the podium.
in the men's division, Hohhot Grand Prix winner Takeshi Sasaki pinned down his teammate and Budapest Grand Prix silver medallist Kenya Kohara in the -81kg category, to take his second IJF Judo World Tour gold of the year.
The Japanese pair cancelled each other out in regulation time, but Sasaki took control in golden score and held down his colleague for 20 seconds and ippon to blow Japan’s battle for Tokyo 2020 wide open in a category which has not always served them well on the biggest stages in the sport.
Japan's Arai favourite for Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020
At -70kg, two-time and reigning World Champion, Chizuru Arai, overcame World Judo Masters bronze medallist Anna Bernholm of Sweden. A clever counter stopped the Swedish judoka’s attack dead, before riding it and countering to score waza-ari - making it 8 out of 9 golds so far for Japan.
Bernholm had to beat two Japanese judoka to get to the final, will now break into the world’s top five after losing out by a single waza-ari score in a close final, while Arai is the runaway leader at the helm of the category and can already be pencilled in as the favourite for Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020.
Move of the Day
Our Move of the Day was a lovely ashi-waza from Japan’s Arata Tatsukawa. After the initial attack he made a second stab, hopping along and placing his opponent down onto his back.
A perfect example of the judo philosophy: Minimum effort, maximum efficiency.