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Home Favourites Set to Shine at Tokyo 2020 After Grand Slam Dominance

14 Nov 2019 20:05

   Christian Fidler
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With 2019 heading for its final curtain, we can start to eagerly look ahead to what next year might bring. From a sporting perspective, the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be an obvious highlight, and Team GB will be looking to improve upon their haul of a solitary bronze medal at the Rio Games of 2016.

The favourites to dominate the event will undoubtedly be Japan, and what a thrill it will be for the ‘home’ supporters to see their heroes aim to beat their 12-medal collection of four years ago.

There will be 15 events in all in Tokyo, with 386 judoka looking to claim glory for their countries. The traditional weight categories will be contested, so for the men, that’s classifications from 60kg to 100kg+, and 48kg to 78kg+ for the women. There will also be a mixed team tournament, with a variety of weight divisions disputed.

Looking at their form at the two Grand Slam events in October, the Japanese judoka will be counting down the days to the start of their Games on July 24. It's quite possible that records could be broken, such has been their dominance in 2019, and Japan will surely feature heavily in any judo betting tips for the Rio Olympics given how well their key performers have been faring of late.

Asian Invasion

The first Grand Slam event of October took place in Brazil, with 316 participants from 55 countries looking to further their claims for a spot on their respective Olympic teams.

Japan, as you might expect, were as dominant as ever. In the men’s section, Takanori Nagase was at his best to take the honours in the 81kg category, and the bronze medallist from Rio will be looking to go at least one better on home soil.

There was also victory for Kentaro Iida in the 100kg section, although Soichi Hashimoto had to settle for third place at the 73kg mark.

Those efforts followed the World Judo Championships in Tokyo earlier in the summer, where the Japanese team was once again in dominant form.

There were golds for Joshiro Maruyama and Shohei Ono in the men’s championships, although there was disappointment for the likes of Hisayoshi Harasawa and Shoichiro Mukai, who had to settle for silver.

In the women’s event, first-place finishes for Uta Abe and Akira Sone ensured Japan at top of both the gold and overall medals standings, although Shori Hamada, Miku Tashiro, Tsukasa Yoshida and Funa Tonaki could have extended their nation’s dominance even further but for disappointment in their own gold medal matches.

Held at the Nippon Budokan in the country’s capital, the Worlds were a fantastic dress rehearsal for what judo fans can expect at the Tokyo Olympics next summer.

And given their form at the big event and in subsequent Grand Slam fixtures, the signs are very strong that Japan could even overhaul their incredible medal return from the Rio Games.

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Related judoka and events

Related Judo Photos

  • Kentaro Iida (JPN) - Grand Slam Düsseldorf (2019, GER) - © Christian Fidler
  • Soichi Hashimoto (JPN) - Grand Slam Paris (2019, FRA) - © Christian Fidler
  • Joshiro Maruyama (JPN) - Grand Slam Düsseldorf (2019, GER) - © Christian Fidler

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