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Third victory for Miku Takaichi at Grand Slam Tokyo

Third victory for Miku Takaichi at Grand Slam Tokyo

3 Dec 2023 17:50
IJF Media team by Callum MacLennan and JudoInside
Tamara Kulumbegashvili - IJF

The final for women U63kg in Tokyo was a surprisingly open contest despite the two athletes fighting for the same nation. Both Miku Takaichi and Kirari Yamaguchi attacked repeatedly with uchi-mata and other, smaller ashi-waza, but Yamaguchi came closest to scoring in normal time. In the second minute of golden score Yamaguchi attacked with uchi-mata again, but this time Takaichi transitioned into ne-waza and turned the youngster over and held using tate-shiho-gatame for ippon. This is Takaichi's third gold medal in her home grand slam, an impressive feat considering Japan's continued strength in depth in the weight class.

In Pool A, 2023 junior world silver medallist Mizuki Takaki defeated the Panamerican trio of Del Toro Carvajal (CUB), Quadros (BRA) and then top seed Beauchemin Pinard (CAN) to make it through to the semi-final. Pool B was won by 22-year-old Kirari Yamaguchi, who got past former world number one Renshall (GBR), Padilla Guerrero (ESP) and 2023 world bronze medallist Joanne Van Lieshout (NED) to face Takaki. Yamaguchi threw Takaki twice for waza-ari to progress to the final.

Takaichi and Horikawa faced off in the quarter final to decide the winner of Pool D, with the former taking a tactical win over the latter. Takaichi then held down Paris Grand Slam 2021 winner Barbara Timo (POR) in the semi-final to confirm that the gold and silver medals would be headed home with the hosts.

Last year Japan took a clean sweep of the medals in the U63kg, and with 4-strong team once again for the Tokyo Grand Slam 2023, which included 4-time Masters winner and champion here last year, Miku Takaichi, along with double world champion Megumi Horikawa, they were confident in repeating the feat this year. Indeed, all four of their athletes made it to the quarter final stages.

Bronze medal fights

Van Lieshout and Timo fought for the first of the bronze medals. After a low ippon-seoi-nage attempt from Timo almost scored, Van Lieshout swiftly transitioned into ne-waza, locking in a tight okuri-eri-jime which Timo bravely defended. The Dutchwoman wasn’t finished, however, and smoothly switched to juji-gatame to force the submission from the Portuguese fighter. 21-year-old Van Lieshout continues her meteoric rise in the senior ranks with this her third grand slam bronze medal.

The progression of Horikawa and Takaki to the second bronze medal match guaranteed more metal for the hosts. Neither player was able to score, but Takaki controlled the contest and finished off a tactical victory early in golden score. This is the 20-year-old’s first grand slam medal and at the first time of asking. The home nation will surely be content with winning 3 out of 4 medals on offer.

Takaichi has now won three Tokyo Grand Slams and collected seven medals. Topscorer is Naohisa Takato with 8 medals including 5 titles. 

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