DUSSELDORF, GERMANY – Sixteen-year-old Uta Abe became the youngest judoka in history to earn a Grand Prix title when she won the women’s 52-kg division Friday.
According to the International Judo Federation, Abe, who is a first-year student at Shukugawa Gakuin High School in Kobe, is also the youngest ever winner on the IJF World Judo Tour, which started in 2008.
On the first day of action at Mitsubishi Electric Halle, Abe beat world bronze medalist Amandine Buchard of France by scoring yusei points on her favorite uchimata inner thigh throws after winning three of four bouts by ippon to advance to the final.
“I was confident I could win (some bouts) but not the title. I’m surprised and happy at the same time,” said Abe, whose older brother Hifumi is a 19-year-old judoka competing in the 66-kg division.
Abe, who managed to keep her composure when the referee declared her the winner, said “I was screaming inside, ‘Oh my god, I won (the bout). I won (the Grand Prix title).’ “
Ai Shishime won bronze in the same weight category with a victory over Alexandra Larisa Florian of Romania in the semifinals.
In the women’s 48-kg division, 21-year-old Funa Tonaki defeated Melanie Clement of France for gold, while Nae Udaka placed third in the women’s 57-kg.
In the men’s 66-kg class final, Georgia’s Vazha Margvelashvili defeated Norihito Isoda, meaning Isoda had to settle for silver.
No Japanese competed in the men’s 60-kg division.