DUSSELDORF, GERMANY – Ruika Sato took out the women’s 78-kg class and teammate Sara Asahina captured the open-weight title Sunday to bring Japan’s final tally at the Dusseldorf Judo Grand Slam to seven gold and two silver medals.
Sato went on the offensive from the outset against Brazilian world champion Mayra Aguiar, and the aggressive strategy paid off.
“I had a strong feeling that I should go for the throw and it led me to victory,” Sato said.
The win gave Sato her 12th Grand Slam medal and set the stage for another potential showdown with Aguiar at September’s World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Over-78-kg world champion Asahina overcame world bronze medalist Nihel Cheikh Rouhou of Tunisia in a hard-fought final. The 21-year-old fought a somewhat subdued bout but was able to secure victory after her opponent picked up a third shido penalty in golden score.
Japan, the only country to capture multiple gold medals at the tournament, looked certain to add one more heading into the men’s over-100-kg final between two Japanese judoka, Olympic silver medalist Hisayoshi Harasawa and two-time Grand Slam winner Takeshi Ojitani.
However, in the biggest anticlimax of the tournament, the match ended in a double disqualification after both athletes received their third shido penalty for passivity. Both received the silver medal in the first Grand Slam final to end without a winner.
Japan coach Kosei Inoue said the heavyweight final was a disappointing end to an otherwise successful tournament.
“The way things finished was regrettable. It leaves a bad aftertaste,” Inoue said. “There’s a possibility the heavyweight division could lose its appeal if wrestlers are getting penalties before even attempting an attack.
“I still have a lot of questions, but we can take a lot of positives from the tournament.”
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