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World Judo Masters ends in glory for Japan

World Judo Masters ends in glory for Japan
By Robert Hackwill
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Japan's judoka again reign supreme at the end-of-season meeting in China.


The season-ending World Judo Masters 2018 concluded on Sunday with the heavyweight titans of judo's elite reinforcing their credentials while new stars were born in Guangzhou, China.

The IJF World Judo Tour reached an explosive finale in Asia as the women’s -70kg, -78kg and +78g categories and men’s -81kg, -90kg, -100kg and +100kg categories were all contested at the Guangzhou Arena.

Following 10 Grand Prix events, five Grand Slam and a World Championships, the flagship event on the IJF calendar, the season made its last stop for 2018 as the best-of-the-best locked horns one final time.

Japan finished out of sight at the top of the table with a staggering medal haul of seven gold, three silver and four bronze ahead of Georgia who won two gold, one silver and two bronze. Seven countries won gold in China as Russia, France, Kosovo, Azerbaijan and Spain stood out alongside Japan and Georgia.

Judo’s universality at the elite level was on show for the world to see as 24 countries medalled over the course of the two-day competition.

The final day belonged to the impressive 18-year-old Sone Akira.

She powered her way to her final, defeating world openweight silver medalist Larisa Ceric in style in the semis.

In the final she had her sights set on Olympic and double world champion Idalys Ortiz of Cuba, and she took a huge scalp with a clever tactical victory.

“Ortiz is a very tactical judoka. So I knew that I couldn’t fall into her trap, so I just tried to stay one step ahead of her throughout,” said Sone.

The owner of the red back patch, World champion Guram Tushishvili of Georgia was our man of the day. O soto gari was his technique of choice, first dispatching Krakovetskii of Kyrgyzstan and following it up with a carbon copy against Hegyi of Austria.

In the final he would be up against World and Olympic medalist Rafael Silva of Brazil.

He made short work of the Brazilian, transitioning brilliantly to secure Osaekomi and successfully defend his world masters title.

As they prepared for the -90kg final, great friendship was shown by World champion Nikoloz Sherazadishvili and Hungary’s Toth Krisztian.

A clever counter-attack from the Spaniard followed by a brilliant dropping technique sealed victory for the world champion, but showing incredible respect for his friend, he reigned in his celebrations to comfort his defeated opponent.

Both fighters are such great ambassadors for the sport, with their exciting, explosive judo, and their discipline and humility.


Japan, the ever-present force of judo, took another three gold medals to make it four on the day.

A sacrifice technique from Sasaki Takeshi consigned Lappinagov to a second successive Masters silver.

Niizoe Saki overcame the experience of triple world champion Alvear of Columbia and a technically brilliant turnover from former world champion Umeki Mami saw her beat teammate Sato Ruika for the -78kg gold. Judo’s home nation topped the final medals table.

The move of the day came from home crowd hero Yuan of China, with an incredible Ura Nage against Kim of Korea that shook the stadium.


The IJF World Judo Tour 2019 will open in Israel with the inaugural Tel Aviv Grand Prix from 24 – 26 January. The highly-anticipated three-day event has already 127 competitors registered from 22 nations.



Osaka Grand Slam bronze medallist NIIZOE Saki (JPN) defeated double Olympic medallist and three-time world champion Yuri ALVEAR (COL) for the second time this year to earn the best result of her young career. NIIZOE, who beat ALVEAR in February at the Düsseldorf Grand Slam, threw the 32-year-old Colombian great with a tai-otoshi for a waza-ari score and impressively held onto her lead to reign for rampant Japan.

Final Results

1. NIIZOE, Saki (JPN)


2. ALVEAR, Yuri (COL)

3. VAN DIJKE, Sanne (NED)

3. POLLERES, Michaela (AUT)

5. RODRIGUEZ, Elvismar (VEN)


5. PEREZ, Maria (PUR)

7. GAHIE, Marie Eve (FRA)

7. BERNABEU, Maria (ESP)


Former world champion UMEKI Mami (JPN) ruled the -78kg category as the former owner of the red backpatch was the last Japanese judoka standing on Sunday evening. World number 10 UMEKI held down Osaka Grand Slam winner SATO Ruika (JPN) for 20 seconds for gold to arguably propel her to pole position in the ever-changing battle for Japan’s one spot at Tokyo 2020 in the -78kg category.


Final Results

1. UMEKI, Mami (JPN)

2. SATO, Ruika (JPN)

3. HAMADA Shori (JPN)


3. POWELL, Natalie (GBR)

5. STEENHUIS, Guusje (NED)

5. MALONGA, Madeleine (FRA)

7. VERKERK, Marhinde (NED)


7. ANTOMARCHI, Kaliema (CUB)


Osaka Grand Slam silver medallist SONE Akira (JPN) defeated world silver medallist Idalys ORTIZ (CUB) to win her first major title on the IJF World Judo Tour. SONE, 18, showed no fear as she went up against arguably the most decorated female heavyweight in the sport and the 29-year-old Cuban struggled under the immense degree of pressure from the Japanese teen. ORTIZ received hansoku-make for her third shido for passivity to give one more gold medal to Japan and to establish SONE as a real contender for Tokyo 2020.

Final Results

1. SONE, Akira (JPN)


2. ORTIZ, Idalys (CUB)

3. CERIC, Larisa (BIH)

3. ALTHEMAN, Maria Suelen (BRA)



5. KIM, Minjeong (KOR)

7. KALANINA, Yelyzaveta (UKR)

7. TARASOVA, Galyna (UKR)



Osaka Grand Slam gold medallist SASAKI Takeshi (JPN) defeated European Championships bronze medallist Aslan LAPPINAGOV (RUS) to record the highest profile win of his career. The world number 13 defeated the world number seven as the Russian had to settle for silver for the second year in a row at the Masters. SASAKI has former world champion NAGASE Takanori (JPN) and world silver medallist FUJIWARA Sotaro (JPN) as his main rivals in Japan but has made his sporadic appearances count on the IJF circuit count in 2018. The Japanese judoka established himself with a win at the Hohhot Grand Prix in May and won for a second time in China this season with a narrow victory over LAPPINAGOV. SASAKI caught his opponent with a ura-nage for a waza-ari score and will now jump up into the world’s 10 on the IJF ranking list for the first time.


Final Results

1. SASAKI, Takeshi (JPN)


3. DE WIT, Frank (NED)


3. ALBAYRAK, Vedat (TUR)

5. CASSE, Matthias (BEL)


7. NYAMSUREN, Dagvasuren (MGL)




World champion Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP) triumphed at the World Judo Masters for the first time with a superstar performance in the -90kg category. Former world silver medallist TOTH Krisztian (HUN) has long been a bogey man for SHERAZADISHVILI and entered the event with a 4-1 head-to-head record over the Spaniard. The world champion beat his Hungarian rival for the first time in World Championships semi-final in Baku and had the measure of his familiar foe today in China with two waza-ari scores going unanswered. The pair displayed great sportsmanship afterwards as they exchanged a sincere handshake and lengthy embrace.

Final Results



2. TOTH, Krisztian (HUN)

3. IGOLNIKOV, Mikhail (RUS)

3. BOZBAYEV, Islam (KAZ)

5. VAN T END, Noel (NED)


5. KLAMMERT, David (CZE)

7. MEHDIYEV, Mammadali (AZE)

7. USTOPIRIYON, Komronshokh (TJK)


Olympic and world silver medallist Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) successfully defended his Masters title as he typically led the way for Georgia. World bronze medallist LKHAGVASUREN Otgonbaatar (MGL) was unable to contest the final due to an injury and so the world number one was awarded the win to extend his lead at the summit of the weight category.


Final Results


2. LKHAGVASUREN, Otgonbaatar (MGL)

3. DARWISH, Ramadan (EGY)


3. IIDA, Kentaro (JPN)

5. FONSECA, Jorge (POR)

5. PALTCHIK, Peter (ISR)

7. FLETCHER, Benjamin (IRL)




World champion Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) underlined his superiority at the helm of the men’s heavyweight category as he won his second World Judo Masters crown. TUSHISHVILI bombarded double Olympic bronze medallist Rafael SILVA (BRA) with attacks and the Brazilian crumbled under the intense onslaught from Georgia’s man of the moment. SILVA, who was targeting his first IJF win since the Tyumen Grand Slam in 2014, was held down with a kami-shiho-gatame for 20 seconds in the last contest on the IJF World Judo Tour for 2018.

Final Results



2. SILVA, Rafael (BRA)

3. MOURA, David (BRA)

3. BASHAEV, Tamerlan (RUS)

5. OLTIBOEV, Bekmurod (UZB)


5. KAGEURA, Kokoro (JPN)

7. HEGYI, Stephan (AUT)

7. YUAN, Shaotong (CHN)

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