Host Japan delivered another thunderous display of dominance, winning all four weight classes on the second day of the Tokyo Grand Slam on Saturday.
It was the second day in a row Japan swept the gold medals in its own backyard after claiming five of the top podium spots on the first day of the Tokyo meet.
At 81 kig, 20-year-old Takanori Nagase shredded the competition with four consecutive ippon wins before closing the day with a triumph over reigning world champion Loic Pietri of France for his fifth ippon, deploying a spectacular leg wheel, or “ashi-guruma” technique, to claim his first championship.
“I was able to beat the world champion and the world silver medalists here, so it gives me confidence,” said Nagase. “If I can only win one championship, they’ll call it a fluke. The real challenge starts now,” he said.
Takahiro Nakai, who competed at the London Olympics, lost to Nagase in the semifinals but defeated South Korean Hong Suk-woong in a match for third to take home a bronze.
“I am happy because Nagase is developing smoothly,” said men’s national coach Kosei Inoue. “The 81-kg class is a weak point (for Japan), so this is a bright sign for the future.”
Olympic silver medalist Riki Nakaya capped off a series of brilliant performances with his fifth straight ippon victory of the day, beating South Korean Bang Gui-man in the men’s 73-kg final at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
It was Nakaya’s second title and first at the Tokyo meet in three years.
“It was the judo I am capable of. It’s great to win at an international competition for the first time in a long while,” said Nakaya.
Former world champion Hiroyuki Akimoto made a second-round exit in a defeat to Slovenia’s Rok Draksic, who took a bronze medal.
In the women’s bracket at 70 kg, Chizuru Arai, another up-and-coming 20-year-old, scored an ippon against world champion Yuri Alvear of Colombia in the semifinals before beating Dutchwoman Kim Polling in the final to take the top spot and her first title.
“I am happy but there are still things I have to work on and I’m not satisfied with my performances today,” said Arai. “I’m very happy I can fight strong opponents. I want to use this championship as a springboard for the next meet.”
Haruka Tachimoto, who also competed in London, fell to Alvear in the match for third place.
Kana Abe trumped countrywoman Miku Tashiro on points in the women’s 63-kg final for her first title to wrap up a sweep for the host.