Japan’s Natsumi Tsunoda is the current and 3-time consecutive world champion at -48kg, and her recent dominance of the category has been rewarded with a maiden selection to represent her country at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the age of 31. With her presence at the Games already confirmed, she arrived at the Tokyo Grand Slam 2023 on day 2 looking to pick up some extra ranking points and ensure she will be seeded for that all-important event. True to form, she produced arguably the most ruthless performance of the day.
Final Julia Figueroa (ESP) vs Natsumi Tsunoda (JPN)

In the preliminaries, Tsunoda submitted : Songrim Heo (KOR), Baasankhuu Bavuudorj (MGL) and Tara Babulfath (SWE), the last two in less than a minute, with her clinical tomoe-nage to juji-gatame transition to glide effortlessly into the final. It is indicative of her mastery of these techniques that despite widespread knowledge of her tokui-waza, none of her opponents came close to stopping her.

Gold medallist, Natsumi Tsunoda (JPN)

In the other half of the draw, we witnessed a return to form for 3-time grand slam winner Julia Figueroa (ESP). The 32-year-old Spaniard was without a World Tour medal in over a year and came into this event unseeded. She got the better of Rishony (ISR), Dudina (AIN), 2023 breakout star Blandine Pont (FRA) and longtime rival Catarina Costa, throwing each of the last three to guarantee herself a 13th grand slam medal.

Bronze medal contest, Chen-Hao Lin (TPE) vs Catarina Costa (POR)

Unfortunately for Figueroa, Tsunoda’s dominance was even more evident in their final, where she applied yet another juji-gatame, in under 30 seconds, to submit the Spaniard. Mission accomplished for Tsunoda; she earned herself a 4th grand slam gold medal. An emotional Figueroa was delighted to finally be back on a World Tour podium, but visibly disappointed that the final ended so quickly.

Bronze medal contest, Kano Miyaki (JPN) vs Tara Babulfath (SWE)

The first bronze medal bout was between Kano Miyaki (JPN) and Babulfath. The two teenagers met previously in both the 2022 cadet and the 2023 junior world championships and Miyaki prevailed on both occasions, the latter after a 9-minute contest. This time they went to war for 10 minutes but once again Miyaki proved too strong, coming close to scoring multiple times. A third shido for passivity for the Swedish prodigy gave Miyaki her second medal at this event, having topped the podium in last year’s edition.

Chen-Hao Lin (TPE) and Catarina Costa faced off for the second bronze medal. Costa attacked more often and more strongly than her opponent, taking a comfortable tactical victory and with it an 8th grand slam medal.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Mr Soya Nakazato, Vice President of All Japan Judo Federation and Senior Managing Director of All Japan Judo Federation, and Mr Toshihiko Yamada, Chairman of International Relations Committee

Final (-48 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-48 kg)

See also