Sato Ruika won her fifth Grand Slam gold medal and registered a crucial victory in the race for Tokyo 2020. Asian Games winner Sato defeated teammate and Budapest Grand Prix winner Umeki Mami (JPN) in the U78kg final with a hold down to propel her forward and make sure that she will earn selections for the biggest events on the tour next year.
One-time Grand Slam winner Umeki, who won the World Championships in 2015, remains in the hunt for the next Olympics and this domestic conundrum will go down to the last event before the Olympics in 2020.
In the first semi-final Umeki defeated world champion Hamada Shori (JPN) by two scores in a clear statement of intent from the former owner of the red backpatch at -78kg. In the second semi-final SATO pinned down Cancun Grand Prix bronze medallist Kaliema Antomarchi (CUB) with a yoko-shiho-gatame for 20 seconds and ippon as the Komatsu supporters roared in unison.
The first bronze medal contest was won by 2017 world bronze medallist Antomarchi who defeated Pan American Championships bronze medallist Vanessa Chala (ECU) in golden score. Cuba’s Antomarchi earned her first Grand Slam medal when Chala was disqualified after stepping out of the area for her third penalty.
The second bronze medal was won by Hamada who held down 19-time Grand Prix medallist Luise Malzahn (GER) for 20 seconds and it was all over just 42 seconds into the contest. Hamada claimed her fifth Grand Slam medal but that was little consolation to her on her homecoming after winning the Worlds in September and with two teammates finishing ahead of her.