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World champ Umeki earns first Grand Slam crown as title defence looms
World champ Umeki earns first Grand Slam crown as title defence looms
21 May 2017 15:05
by Mark Pickering - IJF
IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation

World champion Umeki Mami of Japan won her first Grand Slam title and in process recorded back-to-back wins on the IJF World Judo Tour. Umeki, 22, who was worn her red backpatch since 2015 – as there are no World Championships in an Olympic year – won the Dusseldorf Grand Prix last time out.

In Sunday she won all four of her contests in Ekaterinburg by ippon including the final against double European bronze medallist Natalie Powell (GBR). World number five, Powell, fighting in her first Grand Slam final, matched her Japanese opponent for much of the contest but when the action moved to the ground it was Umeki who was sharper and applied a ude-garami and the Welsh judoka was forced to submit.

In the first semi-final European Championships bronze medallist Joo Abigel (HUN) lost out to Umeki who forced the Hungarian to submit while also holding her down. 

In the second semi-final Powell left her leg in just long enough to turn Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist Anna Maria Wagner (GER) on the edge of the mat and drive over the youngster for ippon.

The first bronze medal was spectacularly claimed by Wagner who launched Sofia European Open bronze medallist Antonina Shmeleva (RUS) with a sumptuous hane-goshi for ippon with a minute remaining. The second bronze medal contest saw Joo continue to build momentum towards Budapest 2017 as she defeated Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Karen Stevenson (NED) by the maximum score after 90 seconds.