Day one of the 2022 Ulaanbaatar Grand Slam sees Japan and Mongolia in top form
Judo returned to Mongolia as Ulaanbaatar hosted its first-ever Grand Slam event. For the first day of the competition, Mongolia and Japan are tied with two gold medals each.
In the women’s -48kg program, Japan won their first gold medal of the tournament as reigning world champion Natsumi Tsunoda continued her winning streak by defeating local favorite Ganbaatar Narantsetseg.
IJF Vice President and EJU President Dr. Laszlo Toth was on hand to present the medals.
In the -60kg category, there was more gold for Japan as Ryuju Nagayama was on fire all day. In the final, he defeated Olympic silver medalist Yang Yung Wei with his usual attacking judo style.
He received his medals from the Director General of the World Martial Arts Masters Committee, Dr. Sung-Min Kang.
In the -52 kg category, Uzbekistan’s Diyora Keldiyorova performed brilliant judo throughout the day, to win her second Grand Slam gold medal, after beating the Russian (in the neutral race under the flag of the IJF) Alesya Kuznetsova in the final.
She received her medals from the Governor of Bulgan Province, Mr. Ariun-Erdene Batbayar.
It was an all-Mongolian final in the -66kg category, and both fighters put on a show for the adoring audience. It was Erkhembayar Battogtokh who emerged victorious by beating his compatriot Sod-Erdene Gunjinlkham.
The medals were awarded by the Chairman of the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports in Mongolia, Mr. Jargalsaikhan Dorjsuren.
Battogtokh said the future of the sport is top of mind for him: “I am very happy because a lot of children are now starting to do judo, we are developing judo in Mongolia, and in the crowd today, there were many, many children and it was so great”
Even more joy for Mongolia since the last gold medal of the day went to Enkhriilen Lkhagvatogoo, in the women’s -57 kg category.
She received the gold medal from IJF EC member, Mrs. Erdenet-Od Khishigbat.
“It was like every cheer, every applause gave me a huge boost of energy,” Lkhagvatogoo said. “It was a totally new feeling because it was a home grand slam, the Ulaanbaatar grand slam!”
With the start of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics, the home side have made sure to give enthusiastic fans something to cheer about throughout the opening day of the Grand Slam. Their unorthodox style of judo combined with their strength and agility make Mongolia a nation to watch closely in this new Olympic cycle.