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Abe siblings strike double gold for Japan on day two in Doha

On the second day of the World Judo Championships in Doha there were speeches from IJF President Marius Vizer and Judo Federation of Qatar President His Excellency Khalid Al Attiyah, before the official opening by the Chairman of the Organizing Committee, His Excellency Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani

The opening ceremony featured traditional performances and a stunning light and dance show, showcasing the rich history and traditions of Qatar.

Japan's  Abe Uta has a quite remarkable record in judo's -52kg category: she's won all but two of her contests in international competition, stretching all the way back to 2016. In the preliminaries she showed why she was the out-and-out favourite, storming her way through with some of the throws of the tournament so far.

Young Uzbek Diyora Keldiyorova was on the other side of the draw and the Grand Slam Champion looked absolutely determined to make a statement on the World stage. She was on all-out attack all day, scoring waza-ari-awasete Ippon multiple times.

But in the final Abe Uta proved too strong, holding down Keldiyorova to take a fourth World Championship title - a feat few have ever accomplished.

Hussein Sayed/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Uta Abe of Japan, right, and Diyora Keldiyorova of Uzbekistan compete during their women's -52kg final medal judo match - Hussein Sayed/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

France's Amandine Buchard and Italy's Odette Giuffrida took the bronze medals.

Qatar NOC President Sheikh Joaan AL-THANI presented the medals

Of course I’m very happy, because I knew I could win with my brother,
so it was a very happy day.

Then she waited to watch the latest chapter in one of the great rivalries in modern Judo. Her brother Abe Hifumi versus compatriot Joshiro Maruyama.

Hussein Sayed/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Abe Hifumi of Japan, top, and Joshiro Maruyama of Japan compete during their men's -66kg final medal judo match - Hussein Sayed/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

The two athletes know each other's techniques so well that it was an intense final, with over 6 minutes of Golden Score, with family, fans and legends watching on

Abe Hifumi dug deep to overcome his great rival, sealing his fourth men’s under-66kg crown following his previous success in 2017, 2018 and 2022.

The bronze medals went to Walide Khyar from France and Baskhuu Yondonperenlei from Mongolia. Qatar NOC Vice President Dr Thani AL KUWARI presented the medals.

It’s the third time the Abe siblings have both won gold at the World Championships, a feat they also achieved at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.