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Two-time and reigning world champion Arai Chizuru was peerless in the U70kg category as Japan concluded day two with gold. World Judo Masters bronze medallist Anna Bernholm (SWE), who had to beat two Japanese judoka to get to the final, will now break into the world’s top five after losing out by a single waza-ari score in a close final.
While Arai is the runaway leader at the helm of the category and can already be pencilled in as the favourite for Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020.
In the first semi-final Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Margaux Pinot (FRA) bravely attacked Arai in golden score with a ko-uchi and it proved to be her downfall as the Japanese anticipated the attack and drove over her French rival for a waza-ari score with te-waza.
In the second semi-final Asian Games winner Niizoe Saki (JPN) fell to Bernholm after two minutes of golden score from a waza-ari as a result of an opportunistic o-soto-gari.
The first bronze medal was awarded to Niizoe who scored twice against World Championships bronze medallist Ono Yoko (JPN). World number 14 Niizoe earned her third Grand Slam medal and can now expect some international trips to major events in 2019.
The second bronze medal was won by Pinot who recorded a narrow win over double world medallist Maria Bernabeu (ESP) in golden score. France’s Pinot claimed her fifth Grand Slam medal after three minutes of golden score from an o-osoto-gari which was worth a waza-ari score.
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