World number seven Henk Grol of the Netherlands ripped up the script and forced the rows of journalists to rewrite their fleeting headlines after beating World Judo Masters bronze medallist Kageura Kokoro (JPN) to win heavyweight gold. It was in 2011 that Henk Grol captured the Paris gold but then in his class U100kg. Aged 34 he seems to be on course for a place in Tokyo.
Kageura handed French giant Teddy Riner his first loss in a decade in 154 contests in round three and seemed on course for gold only for Dutchman Grol to claim the spoils and to take some of the shine off the Japanese heavyweight’s famous win over the 10-time world champion.
Double Olympic bronze medallist Grol claimed his first IJF gold medal since winning the 2018 Osaka Grand Slam by catching a shell-shocked Kageura with his trademark ashi-waza as a ko-uchi-gari floored the history-making Japanese who endured the most eventful day of his career to say the least. Grol revived his Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid after teammate and top seed Roy Meyer (NED) finished seventh as the unfancied 34-year-old veteran fell to his knees and kissed the tatami after his score was upgraded from waza-ari to ippon upon a video review.
In the first semi-final Grol profited from a wasteful outing by Zagreb Grand Prix winner Gela Zaalishvili (GEO) who was guilty of being passive and was reprimanded for the third and final time with 27 seconds remaining. In the second semi-final double Olympic bronze medallist Rafael Silva (BRA) lost out against Kageura by a waza-ari score after 31 seconds of golden score.
The first bronze medal was won by world number 25 Andy Granda (CUB) who downed Brazilian man-mountain Silva after two minutes of golden score with an o-uchi-gari for a medal-winning waza-ari score which reenergised the crowd ahead of the men’s +100kg final.
The second and last bronze medal contest saw Zaalishvili lose his concentration on the ground and Osaka Grand Slam gold medallist Inal Tasoev (RUS) showed his experience by taking full advantage as he applied an armlock for ippon.