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Shoichiro Mukai becomes second debutant winning Paris
11 Feb 2018 19:05
Mukai Shoichiro of Japan won a majestic gold medal on his first IJF World Judo Tour competition on international soil with an irresistible showing in the -90kg category. Tokyo Grand Slam bronze medallist Mukai, 22, needed only 15 seconds to defeat double and reigning World Judo Masters winner Beka Gviniashvili (GEO).
Beka Gviniashvili was a favourite in advance and seemed to qualify for the final match smoothly. Gviniashvili is the same age of Mukai but vastly more experienced at the top level, was caught with his ippon seoi-nage which steered the Japanese flag to the rafters once again in the AccorHotels Arena.
Mukai put his hands to his face and could not believe what he had achieved, having dreamt about this day for years, while Gviniashvili, who missed a golden opportunity for a second Grand Slam title was clearly in pain but it was mostly his pride that was hurt. Instead of celebrating winning one of the most coveted titles in the sport, Mukai rushed over to help the injured Gviniashvili off the tatami towards his coach which the teeming crowd recognised with applause and a standing ovation.
In the first semi-final Gviniashvili convincingly defeated World Judo Masters bronze medallist Nagasawa Kenta (JPN) by ippon with 71 seconds left after the Georgian had been leading by a waza-ari score. In the second semi-final Mukai advanced to the final after former world champion Gwak Donghan (KOR) withdrew during their semi-final from after being inadvertently hit in the eye during a gripping exchange.
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