Nineteen-year-old Hifumi Abe won his second Grand Slam Tokyo title on Friday in the men’s judo 66-kg division at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Abe, the winner here two years ago, won the final by ippon slamming down Yuki Hashiguchi with a seoi-otoshi, or back-drop throw. It was his third Gland Slam title, coming after his second in July in Tyumen, Russia.
“I could show my strength in pressuring the opponent and winning by a throw,” said Abe, who lost to Hashiguchi twice in one day last month at the Kodokan Cup.
After missing out on his ticket to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Abe trained with visiting Fabio Basile and was repeatedly throwing him to the floor before the Italian went on to claim the division’s gold medal in Brazil.
“I was hurling him for fun. It was so frustrating thinking what if I were there (in Rio),” Abe said. “I’ll keep on winning next year. My goal is to eclipse (retired) Tadahiro Nomura and win four straight Olympics.”
National team coach Kosei Inoue praised the youngster for showing signs of maturity.
“We could see from him the necessary fight and determination needed to win on the world stage. All the positive aspects of his play were there in the final,” Inoue said. “He also showed wariness from the first round. It’s an element that he needs in order to develop further.”
Ryuju Nagayama defeated the Rio bronze medalist in the 60-kg category, prevailing over Naohisa Takato on a counter with an inner-thigh throw for his first title here.
“I didn’t let that one chance slip,” Nagayama said. “The real challenge starts here and I hope to keep enhancing my ability.”
In the women’s 48-kg division, Rio silver medalist Ami Kondo settled for third following repechage after she was beaten by Funa Tonaki, who also finished third, in the second round.
Natsumi Tsunoda won the 52-kg class by ippon against 16-year-old Uta Abe, the younger sister of Hifumi, for her first title. Tsukasa Yoshida defeated 2014 world champion Nae Udaka to win the class for the second straight year.