Explosive judo from Japanese judoka saw Japan dominate a thrilling first day of the Dusseldorf Grand Slam, taking four out of the five gold medals up for grabs on the opening day of the international judo competition.
Kelmendi's rampage to the top continues
Day 1 saw Kosovan hero Majlinda Kelmendi continue her rampage back to the top of the -52kg category as she earned her sixth Grand Slam title.
The Olympic Champion has shown everyone that this is her category, and this is her comeback. One big attack after another saw her become our Woman of the Day. Huge hip throws, first against Germany’s Verena Thumm, and then in the semi-final against Odette Giuffrida of Italy.
In the final Kelmendi defeated Sosorbaram Lkhagvasuren of Mongolia, using the other side of her judo - her tactical prowess, meaning she stood atop the podium once again. Kelmendi has clearly set her sights on taking back her World title later this year.
"So today, to be honest, I was very motivated. And I had some feelings, like it was the Olympics. So I was motivated and I knew exactly what I had to do. So I was confident in the fight and I think I just proved that I was confident and got on that fight," said a delighted Majlinda Kelmendi in a post-contest interview.
Japan dominate Day 1
Our Man of Day was Japan’s **Joshiro Maruyama, **whowon his third consecutive IJF World Judo Tour event. The Osaka Grand Slam gold medalist, now famous for his uchi-mata, gave us many brilliant examples of his dynamism and explosion - the first against Korea’s Ham Young Jin.
Next he caught Manuel Lombardo, the man who had defeated his compatriot and rival Hifumi Abe in Paris just two weeks ago.
In the final, Maruyama defeated another Korean, Kim Limhwan, with another uchi-mata.
Even when his opponents knew what was coming, they couldn’t stop him. Joshiro Maruyama: Is he the new number one in Japan?
"Thank you very much. Well the thing for me with the Osaka Grand Slam and also the Masters was to be able to perform my own style. But coming into the Dusseldorf Grand Slam, I knew that I would be researched. So for me it was more about being able to find that moment. Bide my time. And find the moment to strike," Joshiro Maruyama said in an interview.
The rest of the story was all Japan. At -48kilos, the former World Champion Funa Tonaki defeated former Paris Grand Slam silver medallist Kang Yujeong of Korea by ippon in the final to keep her Tokyo 2020 ambitions alive, as she sacrificed her weight to score a brilliant ippon with sumi-gaeshi.
Ryuju Nagayama, always one to put on a great judo display, defeated Russia’s Robert Mshvidobadze. A beautiful uchi-mata saw him crowned Dusseldorf Champion at -60kg.
In the -57kg category it was World Champion vs Olympic Champion as Tsukasa Yoshida took on Rafaela Silva. Another sacrifice technique saw Japan take four out of the five golds at Dusseldorf so far.
Move of the Day
Our Move of the Day came from Bashkuu Yondonperenlei in the -66kg bronze medal contest.
The most enormous pick up from Yondonperenlei, countering Paris Grand Slam Champion Denis Vieru of Moldova and the Mongolian was thrilled as he earned our Move of the Day.