Uta Abe competing at the Grand Prix in Zagreb.
The capital of Croatia, Zagreb, played host to its annual Grand Prix once again, and the competition was stacked with the best in the world.
At under 48kg, world silver medalist Wakana Koga forced her opponent to submit in the final with a well-executed strangle.
Dr. Laszlo Toth, vice president of the IJF and EJU President, was on hand to award the medals.
At under 60kg, Kazakhstan’s Shamshadin Magzhan had a great day. He was delighted to take his first ever world tour gold.
He was awarded his medal by Mr. Ante Zigman, president of the board of the Croatian financial services supervisory agency.
All the talk today was on Olympic champion Uta Abe, who returned to the international competition today for the first time since Tokyo, dispatching each of her opponents. The young Japanese star moved quickly into the final.
There she would meet the current Olympic champion from the weight below, who has been making waves at under 52kg. Distria Krasniqi was also on fire, and the Judo world is awaiting the final.
The battle was an incredible spectacle. A moment of brilliance, followed by a swift transition into groundwork, settled the debate for now.
Dr. Sanda Corak, education director of the IJF awarded the two Olympic Champions their medals.
“My brother and I had a very happy life with our family after we took Gold at the Tokyo Olympics together,” Abe said.
“Now we have a new goal, to win the Gold medal at the Paris Olympics. We are very determined”.
Azerbaijan’s Yashar Najafov made a statement at under 66kg, with lightning-fast techniques on his way to the final.
He met Italy’s Matteo Piras, where a close Waza-ari score clinched his victory.
Mr. Mohammed Meridja, education and coaching director of the IJF, awarded the medals.
“For me, the best moment was the throw in the semi-final… it’s my favorite and best throw. And in the podium, the podium,” Najafov said.
At under 57kg, Christa Deguchi returned to the arena. She is one of the most exciting Judoka of the last few years.
After a run of bad form, the Canadian put on display some of the most exciting and classical Judo of the day.
Eteri Liparteliani met her, but she couldn’t stop Deguchi.
She was awarded the gold medal by Mr Siniša Krajač, secretary general of the Croatian Olympic committee.