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All Japan Championships promises fireworks this weekend

All Japan Championships promises fireworks this weekend

2 Apr 2022 00:10 - Hans van Essen / judo news, results and photos

This weekend the All Japan Championships will be held in the heart of Kyushu at Fukuoka Kokusai Center. Only the best 8 Judokas of each category can compete at this annual championship. The events is very important for the selection of this year’s World Championships in Tashkent. On Saturday the women will fight, on Sunday the men.

Six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medallists are fighting this weekend according to the draw. Last year the selected Olympians didn’t have to fight at the All Japan’s to qualify, they were allowed an more quiet preparation. This time, the heat is on again and with some juice fights coming up.

The All Japan Judo Federation created a documentary focusing on the story of four judoka: Ono Shohei, Rio & Tokyo Olympic Games gold medallist, Haga Ryunosuke, 2020 All Japan Championship winner and 2015 World Championship gold medallist, Saito Tatsuru, 2021 Baku Grand Slam winner and Ota Hyoga, 2021 All Japan Championship winner

Inoue Kosei himself, the legendary Olympic and world champion and former Japanese head coach for men, was three-time winner of the All Japan Championships. He has a special attachment to this competition as an athlete, coach and judo enthusiast. Inoue is still involved with the Japanese national team but also holds the post of Chief Strategy Officer of the All Japan Judo Federation Brand Steering Committee.

“The All Japan Judo Championship, also known as Zen-nihon, is the most historic and traditional judo event in Japan. It takes place at the Nippon Budokan, the venue of the Olympic Games. There is no other event like it. We decided to make the documentary to promote this event to a wide audience by putting the spotlight on the judoka who work tirelessly to reach their goals and dreams.“

Women’s favourites:

U48kg Last year’s winner Natsumi Tsunoda is seeded first and is by far the favourite

U52kg Of course we like to see Olympic Champion Uta Abe in action. Last year’s winner Nanako Tsubone is seeded third. Double world champion Shishime Ai doesn’t compete.

U57kg Former World Champion Tsukasa Yoshida is seeded first and separated from Momo Tamaoki who is in the pool with last year’s winner Haruka Funakubo in a competitive weight category.

U63kg Last year’s winner Nami Nabekura is seeded first, Kirari Yamaguchi is an outsider.

U70kg is always strong in Japan. Last year’s winner Saki Niizoe is seeded first again and separated from Yoko Ono, the World Championships silver medallist last year.

U78kg Olympic Champion Shori Hamada is the number one seed. Mami Umeki won bronze at the World Last year while also Ruika Sato is a big candiate for gold. Last year’s winner Rika Takayama is Sato’s first opponent, what a line up.

O78kg World Champion Sarah Asahina tested positive for Covid-19. World Championships finallist Wakaba Tomita is the favourite for the heavyweight title on Saturday. Olympic Champion Akira Sone is absent.

Men’s favourites:

U60kg The lightweights will probably see a super clash of the two best fighters of Japan for years: Naohisa Takato and Ryuju Nagayama, but in Japan you never know. Genki Koga and Sho Tateyama are lined up in the first round as well.

U66kg Speaking about clashes, this can be the biggest of all, a rematch between Hifumi Abe and Joshiro Maruyama, the best athletes U66kg. We don’t see other candidates to interfere. It’s a rematch you won’t afford to miss.

U73kg Even without Shohei Ono this category is interesting with Soichi Hashimoto and number one seed Shusuke Uchimura. Hashimoto is in a tough pool though.

U81kg What about a final between Olympic Champion Takanori Nagase and Sotaro Fujiwara who comes in shape. Definitely not guarantee they will qualify as the field is competitive with Sasaki, Goki Maruyama and Kohara.

U90kg Maybe not the best Japanese class but Shoichiro Mukai is eager to make clear he is the top contender. Still, he is separated from Kenta Nagasawa and young gun Sanshiro Murao.

U100kg Olympic Champion Aaron Wolf won't be in action due to an ankle injury and will be absent. This field is still nice with Kentaro Iida and Ryunosuke Haga on the other side.

O100kg Heavyweights Hisayoshi Harasawa is the number one seed and separated from World Champion Kokoro Kageura. But there are lots of candidates for gold: Ojitani tested positive so Harasawa has a bye in round one and Kaguera will clash with young man Saito. Hyoga Ota is another candidate, what a way to end this championships.

Don’t miss this event, the championships will be live streamed and archived on AJJF Youtube Channel and don’t miss anything.

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