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Hifumi Abe definite new star U66kg
2 Dec 2016 13:35
Former Youth Olympic Games winner Abe Hifumi was the star of the show in the U66kg category as he defeated former Astana Grand Prix winner Hashiguchi Yuuki to win gold. Abe, 19, who is seen as one of the biggest Japanese talents, has been deliberately held back as Japan were reluctant to release him full-time on the circuit with 2020 in mind but that will change now.
Abe has had to be patient but almost always delivers and his star shone brightest under the neon lights of Tokyo with a magical display which culminated with a beautiful sode-tsurikomi-goshi for a yuko and tai-otoshi for ippon.
Abe said: “I always fight for ippon, this is so important to me. I go forward and give everything in every contest. At London 2012 the Japanese men did not win a gold medal and it was important to change that at Rio 2016. We want to show the world that Japanese judo is the best.
“I want to compete in Europe next year and regularly on the IJF circuit. My first World Championships is my aim and from there I want to become the world number one. My sister fought well today, I am pleased for her, she offers me a lot of motivation and together I hope that we can become world number one judoka.”
In the first semi-final former Astana Grand Prix winner Hashiguchi Yuuki (JPN) did not have to compete as 2015 Tokyo Grand Slam winner Takajo Tomofumi (JPN) was injured and pulled out of their semi-final contest. In the second semi-final 21-year-old Kodokan Cup winner Isoda Norihito (JPN) lost out to wonderkid Abe. A huge seoi-nage gave the Japanese young gun a waza-ari as he beat the conqueror of Olympic champion Fabio Basile (ITA).
The first bronze medal was won by Qingdao Grand Prix bronze medallist Dovdon Altansukh (MGL) who continued his country’s bright start in Tokyo with a win over Isoda. Dovdon, a two-time Grand Slam bronze medallist, came up with the only score of the contest as his sumi-gaeshi yielded a yuko score to deny Japanese Rookie Isoda a medal on his inaugural IJF World Judo Tour start. The second bronze medal went to double world silver medallist Mikhail Puliaev (RUS) as Takajo again could not compete having already withdrawn before his semi-final due to injury.
Rio 2016 Olympic champion Fabio Basile (ITA) made a bold choice in deciding to return to action at the Tokyo Grand Slam knowing four Japanese judoka would be among the field. The fact that the Italian is in Japan speaks volumes for his confidence but the 22-year-old was off the pace and was held down by IJF World Judo Tour debutant Isoda for 17 seconds and a waza-ari as he lost his opening contest.
Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist and world champion An Baul (KOR) also had a day to forget as he lost two consecutive contests to finish a lowly seventh by his standards.
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Florian Hecht (GER)