OSAKA – Akira Sone became Japan’s first judoka for next year’s Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.
The All Japan Judo Federation named the 19-year-old to next year’s team after she won the over-78-kg championship at the Grand Slam Osaka. The federation had announced it would hold a vote on reigning world champions who also won this weekend in Osaka.
Sone is now bound for her first Olympics after receiving the approval of at least two thirds of the federation’s development committee officials.
In her final at Maruzen Intec Arena Osaka, Sone needed extra time to defeat 2012 London Olympic champion Idalys Ortiz of Cuba by waza-ari.
“Even though I won the championship, I couldn’t relax until it (my Olympic spot) was decided,” Sone said. “And when I did hear, I was kind of in a haze.
“I’ve come a long way, and for the most part it’s been really hard.”
Rio Olympian Mami Umeki won an all-Japanese final in the women’s 78 kg, defeating world silver medalist Shiori Hamada.
In the men’s 100 kg, Rio de Janeiro bronze medalist Ryunosuke Haga defeated Rio silver medalist Elmar Gasimov of Azerbaijan for his first domestic Grand Slam win in four years. Japan’s Kentaro Iida and Aaron Wolf won the bronze medals.
Hyoga Ota took second place in the men’s over-100-kg division, losing to Russia’s Inal Tasoev.
Three champions from this year’s worlds were competing in Osaka, but men’s 66-kg champion Joshiro Maruyama and women’s 52-kg champ Uta Abe both lost their finals on Friday.