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Megumi Horikawa Tsugane back in the flow with Budapest gold

Megumi Horikawa Tsugane back in the flow with Budapest gold

10 Jul 2022 17:35
by JudoCrazy and JudoInside
Tamara Kulumbegashvili - IJF

Megumi Horikawa should have become familiar name. Under her name of Megumi Tsugane she won the U63kg gold medal at the prestigious 2012 Tokyo Grand Slam, at the age of 17, in a field that included Rafaela Silva (BRA), Clarisse Agbegnenou (FRA) and Yarden Gerbi (ISR) among other top players.

So, why isn’t she more well-known? Well, for nearly a decade, she failed to win another IJF World Tour gold medal. Horikawa-Tsugane finally broke through again this year at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam where she won gold.

She is clearly on a roll as she again won gold at the Budapest Grand Slam, and she did it in typical Japanese female player fashion: With a lot of good newaza.

Horikawa won her first match by strangling Sanne Vermeer (NED) with koshi-jime after the Dutch player did a sloppy drop seoi-nage attempt.

Her second match, against veteran campaigner Hedvig Karakas (HUN), was a tough one, which she very nearly lost. Horikawa was down with two shidos to one with just a few seconds to go when launched into a double-sleeve sode. So, committed was her attack that she ended up on her back when the attempt failed. Karakas landed on top and ippon was called. However, this was over-ruled by the video judges, who deemed that Karakas did not have enough control. The match went into Golden Score and there, Karakas got her second shido. They were now even on penalties. Horikawa eventually won on the ground, pinning Karakas for ippon.

Horikawa’s third match, against Katharina Haecker (AUS), didn’t start well for her either. After about a minute of fierce grip fighting, Horikawa was down by two shidos to one. Horikawa then threw Haecker with an osoto-kosoto combination for wazari. She later caught the Australian player with a hold-down for ippon.

Her semifinal match was against Gemma Howell (GBR), the reigning European Champion, whom Horikawa had beaten in the final of the Tel Aviv Grand Slam. At the end of regular time, both players had two shidos each. It was clear the match was not going to end with a throw. And indeed, it was newaza that determined the winner. Horikawa ended up pinning Howell, who is no slouch in groundwork, for ippon in Golden Score.

The final match was the only one that Horikawa won without relying on groundwork. She threw Angelika Szymanska (POL) with an osoto-gari that was initially awarded an ippon but later changed to waza-ari. It didn’t matter though as the Polish player was not able to even up the scores before time ran out. And with that, Horikawa managed to show that her comeback in Tel Aviv was no fluke.

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