Former world champion Wolf Aaron won U100kg gold at his home Grand Slam with a gusty performance. Wolf faced world number 73 and Grand Slam debutant Shady Elnahas (CAN) in the final after the Canadian revelation had defeated Japanese, Mongolian, Portuguese and Czech opposition.
The Tokai University star threw 20-year-old Elnahas with a ko-soto for a waza-ari score and ended the final with a perfectly timed o-uchi-gari. Canada may have unearthed a gem in Elnahas, who finished fifth at the Junior World Championships in October, while Wolf has installed himself as Japan’s number one in the -100kg category.
In the first semi-final Wolf outfoxed Cancun Grand Prix bronze medallist Rafael Buzacarini (BRA). Wolf defeated his Brazilian opponent by a single waza-ari score from a uchi-mata. In the second semi-final Elnahas defeated Asian Games winner Iida Kentaro (JPN) with a thrilling display. The Canadian threw for a waza-ari and held down the Japanese for 10 seconds with a kesa-gatame to continue his miraculous run in Osaka.
The first bronze medal was won by former Paris Grand Slam champion Iida who saw off Hohhot Grand Prix bronze medallist Joakim Dvarby (SWE). Iida repeated his 2016 Japan Grand Slam bronze by throwing his Swedish rival for a waza-ari and applied a kami-shiho-gatame for 10 seconds to continue his steady climb up the rankings.
The second bronze medal went to Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze medallist Jorge Fonseca (POR) who sent Buzacarini through the air with a sode-tsurikomi-goshi. Fonseca has a reputation as one of the biggest throwers in the game and delivered a highlight reel ippon to win the all-Portuguese speaking contest. Former U90kg judoka Fonseca jumped for joy and screamed with delight before settling down and offering a since handshake with his familiar Brazilian foe.