Two gold medals for Japan on day two in Tel Aviv
Day two of the Tel Aviv Grand Slam had fans buzzing with anticipation.
The day before, the president of the International Judo Federation, Marius Vizer, presented the president of the Israeli Judo Association, Moshe Ponte, with the Judo Prize for Peace. Israel competed against Saudi Arabia in the Tokyo Olympics.
Japan’s judo team sent just four women to the Tel Aviv Grand Slam this year – and two of them struck gold on day two.
Horikawa takes gold ten years later
Megumi Horikawa has won the -63kg gold medal, almost ten years after winning her last Grand Slam title in Tokyo. She beat Britain’s Gemma Howell, who was in her first-ever tour final.
IJF Sporting Director Mike Tamura presented his medal to Horikawa.
Hidayat Heydarov of Azerbaijan was seeded in the men’s -73kg contest and he lived up to his expectations, with a victory in the final against Obidkhon Nomonov of Uzbekistan.
The victory came in injury time, with a spectacular koshi-guruma for a waza-ari. The last time the Azerbaijani champion won gold in a Grand Slam was in 2019.
IJF Events Director Dr Lisa Allan presented her with her medal.
Shiho Tanaka won Japan’s second gold medal with a victory over Sanne Van Dijke of the Netherlands in the -70 kg category. An uchi-mata for waza-ari proved enough to give Tanaka the title.
Florin Daniel Lascau, Director of Chief Referees of the IJF, presented the medals
“It was fantastic to have the whole audience there,” Tanaka said. “The crowd made it a much more exciting experience.”
Casse finally takes over Albayrak
The two top seeds qualified for the men’s -81kg final, which saw Matthias Casse of Belgium take on Vedat Albayrak of Turkey. Albayrak had won his two previous contests, but this time it was Casse who won. The winning action came after four minutes of golden scoring, when Casse performed a single juji-gatame for ippon.
Armen Bagdasarov, Director of Chief Referees of the IJF, presented the medals. Casse’s Belgian compatriot, Sami Chouchi, won a bronze medal.
“It’s amazing to share a podium with someone from your country,” said Casse. “Sami has been such a good friend for so long, and it’s just fun hanging out on the catwalk together.”
It’s clear why judo is so popular in Israel, with local stars putting on intense performances throughout the day. After a golden success on day one, the momentum continued throughout day two, buoyed by passionate cheers from home fans in the Shlomo Arena.
They got their reward when Tohar Butbul beat Italian Giovanni Esposito to win bronze in the under 73 kilo contest, to an almost deafening ovation from the crowd.
Day three will bring the heavyweights – and an incredible string of Israeli superstars – together for the crowd to cheer on. A day of action not to be missed.