Dutchman Noel van ‘t End won his first world title after a gruelling day which culminated with a narrow triumph over Osaka Grand Slam winner Mukai Shoichiro of Japan in his sixth contest of the day. World number 10 Van ‘t End, who lost to Mukai in the Osaka Grand Slam final last year, lit up the U90kg category all day long and recorded the biggest win of his career with a mesmerising o-soto ko-soto combination for a waza-ari score with 27 seconds left.
With sweat pouring from the face of both men, the Dutch talent, who was sporting a black eye, held on and went down to his knees and looked up before putting his hands on his face as he realised his dream and added his name to an exclusive list of Dutch judoka who have won in the historic Nippon Budokan.
In the first semi-final former European champion Marcus Nyman (SWE) came up short against Osaka Grand Slam winner Mukai Shoichiro (JPN) in a highly-exciting battle. Nyman wanted the contest to be contested on the ground while Mukai wanted to stay on his feet and to keep far away from the dangerous ne-waza of his opponent. After a scoreless four minutes, the contest entered golden score and Mukai was attacking with intent while Nyman was only willing to engage in ne-waza. Mukai was almost crawling away from his rival on the ground at times but found his rhythm in tachi-waza and forced a third shido for the Swede for passivity.
In the second semi-final former world champion Nemanja Majdov (SRB) fell to Van ‘t End in golden score after the Dutchman prevailed with a breathtaking sode-tsurikomi-goshi in golden score. The European standouts know each other well and respect each-others judo and so could not find a way through in the regulation time. Van ‘t End produced one of the throws of the competition so far to seal a place in the final and his first World Championships medal.
In the first bronze medal contest Tel Aviv Grand Prix winner Axel Clerget (FRA) earned his second World Championships bronze medal in as many years with a late show in Tokyo. Clerget captured his country’s third medal of the day after throwing Nyman with a o-soto-makikomi for ippon and both men will be expected to be in contention once again when judo returns to the Nippon Budokan next year at the Olympic Games.
In the second bronze medal contest Majdov returned to a World Championships podium with a win over former world silver medallist Toth Krisztian (HUN). The 2017 world champion countered his long-time adversary for his second and match-winning waza-ari to win Serbia’s first medal at these World Championships. An ecstatic Majdov patiently and respectfully waited for Toth to return to his feet and stand upright to bow at the same time in a showing of class between two judoka who are known for their impeccable matside etiquette.
Male Dutch World Champions
Anton Geesink: 1961, 1965
Wim Ruska: 1967, 1971
Guillaume Elmont: 2005
Dennis van der Geest: 2005
Ruben Houkes: 2007
Noël van 't End: 2019