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Naohisa Takato scoops record-breaking 11th Grand Slam title
21 Feb 2020 19:05
Three-time world champion Takato Naohisa handed Japan gold in the men’s lightest weight category as he starred in the prelims before being spared an appearance in the final block as Osaka Grand Slam bronze medallist Yang Yung Wei (TPE) could not compete in the U60kg final due to injury.
Grand Slam specialist Takato, who now has three more gold medals at this level than second-placed Tachimoto Megumi on the all-time list, did exactly what he needed to do a week removed from the victory of his teammate Nagayama Ryuju (JPN) in Paris and their domestic duel for Tokyo 2020 selection looks set to continue until the All Japan Championships in April. The unfortunate YANG still impressed during his road to the final and gained enough points to break into the top 10 in the world when the rankings are updated on Sunday evening.
In the first semi-final Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Tornike Tsjakadoea (NED) was held down by Yang in golden score as the latter guaranteed his best result on the IJF World Judo Tour. In the second semi-final Takato launched Tel Aviv Grand Prix winner Kim Won Jin (KOR) with a sode-tsurikomi-goshi for ippon to charge into the final.
The first bronze medal was won by KIM after European Games bronze medallist Jorre Verstraeten (BEL) was off the pace throughout their contest and was penalised with his third shido after three minutes to receive hansoku-make.
The second bronze medal went to Tsjakadoea after Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Temur Nozadze (GEO) was disqualified after six minutes of added time for diving. Nozadze was left almost inconsolable after missing the podium by the smallest of margins as Tsjkadoea recognised his immense disappointment by holding aloft the arms of the defeated judoka.
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Francesca Roitero (ITA)