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Rio 2016 Olympic champion Ono Shohei had the measure of three-time world champion and double Olympic bronze medallist Ebinuma Masashi in arguably the best contest of the Osaka Grand Slam thus far. The long-time teammates have been rivals since Ebinuma moved up to U73kg earlier this year and Ono, the thrower of throwers, lost out to the U66kg ace at the All Japan Championships in April by ippon.
Ono was flawless today while Ebinuma had to dig deep all day long. With 19 seconds left on the clock, Ono rolled over his rival for a waza-ari to win his third Grand Slam gold.
In the first semi-final Ebinuma had to come from behind to defeat 2017 Tokyo Grand Slam silver medallist Arthur Margelidon (CAN). The Japanese great threw the Canadian with a seoi-nage for a place in the final after showing his character by remaining calm while behind and working his way back into the contest and into the final. In the second semi-final Ono saw off defending Japan Grand Slam champion Tatsukawa Arata (JPN) by ippon with a buzzer-beating uchi-mata in the very last second.
The first bronze medal was won by Tatsukawa who beat Tunis Grand Prix winner Zhansay Smagulov (KAZ) in golden score. World number 34 Tatsukawa won his third Grand Slam medal at the expense of Kazakhstan’s world number 11 who is still looking for an elusive Grand Slam medal. The home judoka outgripped Smagulov who was thrown after five minutes and 15 seconds of added time with ashi-waza for ippon.
The second bronze medal went to Abu Dhabi Grand Slam bronze medallist Tommy Macias (SWE) who scored with five seconds left to beat Margelidon. Swede Macias won his fourth Grand Slam medal after throwing with sutemi-waza to avoid golden score.
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