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Former world champion Soichi Hashimoto explores Brazil
5 Oct 2019 12:10
Japan’s five-strong team for the Grand Slam in Brasilia starting this weekend features two former world champions as they shuffle their roster to offer a major opportunity for household names on the IJF Tour to put forward their names for Tokyo 2020 selection.
Hashimoto Soichi, who helped his country to retain their world team title in Tokyo, returns to singles competition for the first time since July on the IJF circuit and will be fighting in Brazil for the first time in his career.
The 2017 world champion, who was overlooked for singles duty in Tokyo, won the Paris Grand Slam in February and the Montreal Grand Prix in July and has to try and keep pace with front-runner Ono Shohei who won his third world title in August.
Tsukuba’s Nagase Takanori, who won world gold in 2015, will be aiming for his fifth Grand Slam title while former world silver medallist Tsunoda Natsumi has been handed a rare IJF start as she remains behind Abe Uta and Shishime Ai.
Düsseldorf Grand Slam winner Iida Kentaro makes his second appearance of the season on the international stage while Kageura Kokoro, who defeated Cyrille Maret in the world team final, returns to +100kg duty for his country.
The IJF approached the AJJF for a comment from World Team Championships gold medallist Hashimoto on Tuesday but he was unavailable. The draw is today.
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Luuk Bouwmeester (NED)