After an exciting encounter with France at the World Judo Championships in Tokyo, Japan takes the title of World Mixed Team Champions
On the day of Team Championships, the atmosphere in the historic Nippon Budokan in Tokyo was buzzing as favourites Japan were looking dominant throughout the day.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo watched along with IJF President Marius Vizer as well as an IJF supported team of refugees who had participated in the competition.
Japan faced off in the final against a confident Team France in a rematch of 2018. The first match saw the heavyweight Cyril Maret take on Kageura Kokoro who took an early lead for Japan with a beautiful piece of ashi-waza.
Japan then tagged in 2018 World Champion Yoshida Tsukasa in the -57kg category, to continue their winning streak against France - but it was France's Sarah Leonie Cysique who turned the tables to even the score, surprising the home crowd with a double-sided osoto gari.
With France boasting two newly-crowned World Champions, Japan brought out World and Olympic Champion Ono Shohei to ensure their gold - and Ono didn't disappoint with a 30-second win against France's Guillaume Chaine. First, an uchi mata for wazari and to finish the fight a fantastic tomoe nage, bringing the score to Japan 2, France 1.
The fourth fight saw 2018's World Champion Arai Chizuru face off against the new queen of the -70kg category, Marie Eve Gahie, but it was Arai who took the victory for Japan, holding Gahie down for ippon.
France's Axel Clerget was up next against Japan's Murao Sanshiro in the -90kg and after a marathon five-minute golden score Clerget forced Murao into submission, keeping France in the competition.
In the -70kg it was a repeat of the final on day five with current World Champion Malonga vs 2018 World Champion Hamada, but this time Hamada came out on top.
With Hamada's victory Japan were crowned the 2019 World Mixed Team Champions once again.
Presenting the trophy to the Japanese team was Prime Minister of Japan Abe Shinzo. Presenting the medals was IJF President Marius Vizer. And presenting the French team with their trophy was Mori Yoshiro, President of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"Japan has so many lovers and judo fans here and to be able to get those cheers from my home crowd means a lot to me," said Ono Shohei in an interview.
"It was really important to send this message because we want to win here next year so it was really important to win this fight, now they know maybe we can beat them with Teddy Riner," said an undaunted Axel Clerget for France.
A fantastic end to the 2019 World Championships, and with one year to go until the Tokyo Olympic Games - how can it top this?