The Japanese women’s world champions showed their dominance in their categories today. The three world champions all won the title at the first day of the Grand Slam of Rio de Janeiro. Hiroaki Hiraoka (JPN) and Hiroyuki Akimoto took the title in the men’s division at the Maracañazinho Stadium.
Hiraoka collected his first Grand Slam title in his career, although he won in Paris in 2008. The runner-up of the World Championships defeated Rishod Sobirov (UZB) who won the GP of Tunis two weeks ago. Today Sobirov (UZB) defeated the new European Champion Milous Sofiane (FRA) in the quarter final. Europe’s vice-champion Ludwig Paischer (AUT) lost to Jeroen Mooren (NED) who won the bronze today. Arsen Galstyan (RUS) took the second bronze when he lost to Hiroaki Hiraoka in the semi final.
Alim Gadanov (RUS) prolonged his title in the category U66kg. In the final he beat the surprising Italian Elio Verde by ippon with a rare uchimata. Verde, the bronze medalist at the worlds in 2009 (U60kg) who defeated European Champion Sugoi Uriarte in the first round. Verde usually fights U66kg but very occasional at Italian Championships he tries the U66kg. Today he succeeded very well.
Gadanov, the number five of the 2008 Olympics defeated World Champion Khasbaatar Tsagaanbaatar (MGL) in last year’s final. Today the world champion was one of the victims of this heavy division when he lost to Loic Korval (FRA) who won the bronze.
Tunis GP winner Rok Draksic (SLO) was surprised by Sanjaasuren Miyaragchaa (MGL) who won bronze.
Hiroyuki Akimoto (JPN) took the title U73kg as he defeated Attila Ungvari in today’s final. Beijing’s Olympic silver medalist Benjamin Darbelet (FRA) was beaten by Attila Ungvari (HUN) earlier.
Akimoto (JPN) beat title defender Dirk Van Tichelt (BEL) in the semi final, Van Tichelt received the bronze as well as Krzysztof Wilkomirski (POL)
Russia’s frontrunner U73kg Mansur Isaev was one of the few victims in the first rounds in Rio.
World Champion Tomoko Fukumi won the Grand Slam in Rio. Fukumi defeated good old Frederique Jossinet (FRA) who managed to reached the final, but now lost to Fukumi, the successor of Jossinet’s nemesis Ryoko Tani. Jossinet beat Fukumi two year’s ago in Paris, but the world champion has grown to a phenomenal level. Fukumi also won the GP of Düsseldorf this year.
Jossinet won her 25th international World Cup, Grand Prix or Grand Slam medal.
Natalia Kondratieva (RUS) and Shugen Wu (CHN) both won the bronze.
Brazilian World Junior Champion Sara Menezes finished fifth.
A second title in the lightweights for Japan when World Champion Misato Nakamura followed the path of Fukumi, but than U52kg. Fukumi hasn’t lost for a long time in major events and won every major event since February 2009 including four Grand Slams, the master title and the World title.
Today she played Marie Muller in the final, but 24-year old Muller was actually today’s biggest surprise winning a very valuable medal for Luxembourg’s at major event. Muller won her fourth important medal, but this time in a heavily occupied tournament. Not even she reached the final, Muller also defeated double European Champion Natalia Kuzyutina (RUS) and world bronze medalist Romy Tarangul (GER) who won the bronze. Hongmei He (CHN) won the second bronze.
Kaori Matsumoto (JPN), the winner of the GS in Paris and the GP of Düsseldorf took her third IJF title this year. Matsumoto won the final in Rio against Telma Monteiro (POR) who took the title last year and won her 20th international World Cup, Grand Prix or Grand Slam medal.
Matsumoto also beat the Olympic Champion Giulia Quintavalle (ITA) in the quarterfinal U57kg and Sabrina Filzmoser (AUT) in the semi final. Viola Waechter (GER) won the second bronze. She was the winner in a heavy block with Morgane Ribout (FRA) who was defeated by Irina Zabludina (RUS).
Japan won its fourth title by Yoshie Ueno, also world champion. Ueno defeated Marta Labazina (RUS) who’s in a good form the whole year. The Russian Champion won bronze medals at the GP of Düsseldorf and the World Cup in Warsaw, but today was her best day defeating Claudia Malzahn (GER) in the semi final and Russian rival Vera Koval earlier today.
Malzahn and Mariana Silva (BRA) received a bronze medal. Last year’s bronze medalist and the 2007 World Champion (in Rio) Emane Gevrise (FRA) again lost in her first match, just like the European Championships.
On Sunday the heavyweights are on the tatami.