by Marielle Descalsota
A minute and a half and an uchi mata was all it took for a second under 66kg world championship to be added to his revered name. Today’s World Championships showed the beauty of pure judo talent.
The gold-medal bout before his was hard fought – golden score and an uchi mata was needed to determine the winner. But in the end she emerged victorious. Her name was also cemented into the history books as a half-lightweight world champion.
Both fighters had an interesting likeness to them, styles akin to each other. A fire to them, a passion, like it was spurred on by sibling rivalry.
The name is becoming synonymous with gold, world champion, ippon… among other eminent things. Things that are regarded as great in the world of judo. The name is special because both World Champions share the same surname.
The Abe siblings – Hifumi, 21, and Uta, 18, are the first pair of siblings to be crowned world champion at the same edition in the tournament’s history.
Hailing from Kobe, Japan, and raised by their firefighter father and coffee shop-owning mother, the siblings first began slamming bodies on the tatami when Hifumi was six years old.
Uta regards Hifumi as her inspiration, and attests that during randori her brother had never allowed her to score an ippon against him. She always aspired to be like him, and wishes to rival his skills one day.
A little over a decade later, Hifumi made international headlines when he defeated Japanese legend Masashi Ebinuma en route to the 2014 Tokyo Grand Slam gold. He was only 17 years old.
The following year, Uta followed suit, stunning the judo world at the Dusseldorf Grand Prix by becoming the youngest ever Grand Prix winner.
History making is in their blood
The sode-tsurikomi-goshi specialists are some of the most versatile fighters in the Japan team, and are seeking gold as the Olympics is gracing the city of Tokyo.
As they defeated some of their fiercest rivals to gold in Baku, including under-66kg Olympic finalist An Baul, and former World Champion Ai Shishime, the future is looking ever-bright for the siblings.
Will dominance be another word on the long list of illustrious epithets synonymous with the name Abe?
The pair will continue to rival each other’s numerous medals, but will do so as teammates on the world scale. Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure – judo is in their blood.