Brazil’s Stefannie Arissa Koyama had an International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Slam debut to remember today as she won gold in the women’s under-48 kilogram category.
The 21-year-old, who was born in Japan where she is also currently studying at university, won four contests on her way to topping the podium in Baku’s Heydar Aliev Arena.
Her gold was secured in the Azerbaijani capital with victory over competition favourite Milica Nikolic of Serbia.
Koyama scored a couple of waza-ari, one from a ko-soto and another after a ko-soto-gake, in the final.
Bronze medals in the category both went to Israeli judokas with Noa Minsker beating Guinea-Bissau’s Taciana Cesar and Shira Rishony winning against Ukrainian Maryna Cherniak.
To go along with Koyama’s maiden victory, there was another first on the competition’s opening day as Lien Chen-Ling became the first judoka from Chinese Taipei to win Grand Slam gold.
The world number 12 saw off Serbia’s Jovana Rogic in the women’s under-57kg category, winning with a waza-ari from an uchi-mata with 45 minutes remaining.
Julia Kowalczyk of Poland and Israeli Timna Nelson Levy won the bronze medals with wins over Brazilian Gilmara Prudencio and Kazakhstan’s Sevara Nishanbayeva respectively.
Today’s other women’s competition saw 21-year-old Romanian Alexandra-Larisa Florian beat Reka Pupp of Hungary in the final of the under-52kg category, with Slovenian Anja Stangar and Belgium’s Charline van Snick coming third.
There were two men’s weight categories contested as well with Japan’s Toru Shishime winning the under-60kg gold.
He defeated Uzbekistan’s Mukhriddin Tilovov in the final while Azerbaijan’s Orkhan Safarov and Bulgarian Yanislav Gerchev picked up bronze medals.
In the under-66kg competition, Israel’s Tal Flicker won against Japan’s Tomofumi Takajo in the final.
Georgian judoka Lasha Giunashvili and another Israeli, Baruch Smailov, rounded off the podium with third place finishes.
The opening day of the Grand Slam also saw the IJF officially unveil their plan to introduce a mixed team event for their schedule at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
If successful, the contest would see teams of six judokas split evenly between men and women battle for an extra gold.
Watch all the latest judo action on Judo TV here.