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Abe v Maruyama: Former champion v new champion
19 Nov 2019 16:25
Two-time world champion Abe Hifumi and new world champion Maruyama Joshiro are locked in one of the most gripping domestic battles for Olympic selection in the sport’s history. They are two incredible talents with amazing skillsets but only one can go to Tokyo 2020.
If Maruyama wins then he’ll have locked down his spot with a lot of judo still to go before the next Olympiad. The Tenri man is in unchartered territory but is a clear favourite to deliver on day one.
Abe, 22, who has long been a poster boy for Tokyo 2020 and gold medal favourite since his 2014 Youth Olympic Games win, now finds him in the usual position of being the underdog and having to beat a teammate and win gold just to keep his Olympic dream alive.
The U66kg superstars have met three times on the IJF circuit and those results tell the story of the struggles of Abe and the rise of Maruyama.
Abe defeated his compatriot to win the 2017 Tokyo Grand Slam final with an o-uchi-gari in golden score. Maruyama beat Abe in the 2018 Osaka Grand Slam final with a tomoe-nage and reigned again in the World Championships at the semi-final stage with his yoko-sutemi-waza after four minutes of golden score.
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