During the second day of competition at the Tokyo Grand Slam 2023, the number of champions on the tatami was impressive and the number of world and Olympic medallists could no longer be counted. However, the stars of the day were perhaps not those we expected.

On one side, we had Yuna Masumizu, nine years old, and Kotaro Yamada, 8 years old, and on the other we had two 'illustrious unknowns,’ Chizuru Arai, Olympic champion and double world champion, and Shohei Ono, double Olympic champion and triple world champion. Okay, let's be fair, Arai and Ono are still a little known in the world of judo and beyond!

If Chizuru Arai had been announced in advance, it was not the case for Ono, whose presence was a total surprise for the public and, moreover, for his young opponent of the day. There is no doubt that Yuna and Kotaro will remember their day at the Tokyo Grand Slam for a long time. Meeting their heroes, competing in front of their parents and their public and participating in an exhibition organised under the same conditions as the event of their elders will remain a memorable moment for everyone present in the venue.

Annett Böhm and Sheldon Franco-Rooks commenting live

We will remember that Yuna and Kotaro won their matches after fierce and good-natured contests and that they were the stars of the live broadcast on https://judotv.com/ and on TV Tokyo. The two contests were refereed by Hirano Hiroyuki and Akiko Amano, both international referees. From now on, we will follow them, because in a few years perhaps they will find themselves at the centre of the arena again, in pursuit of their world and Olympic dreams. Their participation will have inspired them as well as several generations of young judoka.

Something tells us that at the next Paris Grand Slam, next February, we might witness such an event again, so stay tuned for more exciting Judo for Children events


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