OSAKA – Reigning world champions Uta Abe and Joshiro Maruyama missed their chance to become the first Japanese judoka to secure a spot at next summer’s Tokyo Olympics after losing in the finals at the Osaka Grand Slam on Friday.
Abe lost to France’s Amandine Buchard in extra time in the women’s 52-kg division on the opening day of the three-day meet at Maruzen Intec Arena Osaka.
In the men’s 66-kg division, Maruyama fell to Abe’s brother Hifumi, who scored a yusei victory during extra time to claim his fourth title. The all-Japanese clash was a rematch of their world championship semifinal in Tokyo in August.
“I wasn’t strong enough,” Maruyama said. “No matter how you cut it, a loss is a loss.”
The All Japan Judo Federation has announced that judoka winning both the worlds and the Osaka Grand Slam could book tickets to the Olympics if approved by two-thirds of the federation’s development committee officials.
Akira Sone has a chance to earn an Olympic berth if she wins the women’s over-78 kg later in the meet. The 19-year-old, with three gold medals from the last two world championships, including two in the mixed team event, is looking to compete in her first Olympics.
Among other Japanese competitors, Rio de Janeiro Olympic bronze medalist Naohisa Takato claimed his fifth title in the men’s 60 kg by beating countryman Ryuju Nagayama.
Funa Tonaki and Momo Tamaoki won gold in the women’s 48 kg and 57 kg, respectively.