Despite a 4-strong Japanese team featuring former world champions and the current Olympic champion, the -78kg category at the Tokyo Grand Slam 2023 was not dominated by the host nation like it was the previous year, as the hosts could only manage one podium place, compared with 3 in 2022. Two non-Japanese world champions, one past and one present, would claim the top spots.
Final, Inbar Lanir (ISR) vs Mayra Aguiar (BRA)

In the top half of the draw the current world champion and top seed Inbar Lanir (ISR) blasted her way past Oeda (THA) in round 2, current Olympic champion Shori Hamada (JPN) in the quarter-final and 4-time grand slam winner Rika Takayama (JPN) in the semi-final, in less than 4 minutes of contest time. She threw them for ippon with o-uchi-gari, sumi-otoshi and hikikomi-gaeshi, respectively. The Israeli is making a habit of demolishing her opposition in record time and looks certain to bring home another World Tour gold.

Final, Inbar Lanir (ISR) vs Mayra Aguiar (BRA)

On the opposite side of the draw, former and 3-time world champion Mayra Aguiar (BRA) was also taking no prisoners. She defeated Shmeleva (AIN) and the other two Japanese fighters, Mizuki Sugimura and then Mami Umeki, to make her way to the final. Her win against Umeki took her only 7 seconds, as she threw the experienced world champion with ko-uchi-gari in the first exchange.

Gold medallist, Mayra Aguiar (BRA)

In the final Aguiar scored waza-ari, also in the opening exchange with a strong tai-otoshi and Lanir couldn’t pull the score back. Aguiar attacked in ne-waza for most of the final minute to run the clock down and win her 6th grand slam gold medal and her 20th overall. The Brazilian continues to add titles to her long list of achievements and shows no signs of slowing down, at the age of 32.

Bronze medal contest, Mizuki Sugimura (JPN) vs Rika Takayama (JPN)

The first bronze medal match saw Hyunji Yoon (KOR) take on Mami Umeki (JPN). Though Umeki tried her best to put Yoon under pressure, coming forward relentlessly, she walked onto two well-timed ko-uchi-gari attacks from the Korean which each scored waza-ari and confirmed Yoon as the victor. This was her second grand slam bronze medal.

Bronze medal contest, Hyunji Yoon (KOR) vs Mami Umeki (JPN)

The second bronze medal contest was an all-Japanese affair between Sugimura and Takayama which was over in just 40 seconds. Takayama turned her compatriot on the ground using yoko-gaeshi before latching onto the arm to apply juji-gatame. She takes home a 9th grand slam medal and stakes her claim for Olympic selection for Japan. That race remains wide open.

Medals, cheques and flowers were presented by Dr Antonio Castro, International Judo Federation Ambassador & Chairman of the IJF Medical Commission, and Ms Chiyori Masuchi, Councilor of All Japan Judo Federation

Final (-78 kg)

Bronze Medal Fights (-78 kg)

See also