Gennaro Pirelli was the biggest surprise of the second day of the Grand Slam in Tokyo. The Italian gave a boost to his country winning the first ever title for his country in the Grand Slam history. Actually only one Italian ever won the Jigoro Kano Cup, in 2006 by Italian head coach Francesco Bruyere. The impact of Pirelli’s gold is huge in his new category U100kg.
Gennaro Pirelli was Aaron Wolf's executioner and opposed to Kentaro Iida although judo fans were expecting another Japanese competitor to face Iida. The same Pirelli, who was definitely an underdog since he was not seeded, completed the perfect competition day, defeating Iida in golden score. Maybe the latter was stronger, but the experience was on Pirelli's side, who with his own weapons, meaning a strong will and the capacity to be always first to attack, enjoyed his anthem at the end of a day that he will remember forever.
The two bronze medals could still go to Japan but Aurélien Diesse (FRA), who defeated the former world champion, Asley Gonzales (ROU) in the repechage, and Nurlykhan Sharkha (KAZ) had other plans. Nevertheless, winning here for non-Japanese is really difficult and both Kaito Green (JPN) and Kotaro Ueoka (JPN) added medals for the host country.
The category started with a bang, with the defeat of current world silver medallist and Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner, Kyle Reyes, who produced such exciting judo in Tashkent but the Canadian champion was defeated by the Frenchman, Aurélien Diesse, who was then defeated by Kotaro Ueoka (JPN). Life is not easy at the Tokyo Grand Slam.
The other surprise came from Aaron Wolf (JPN), Olympic champion a year and a half ago, who lost first round against Gennaro Pirelli (ITA). Another seeded athlete, Rafael Buzacarini (BRA), also lost first round, against Kaito Green (JPN).
In this top seeded athlete 'killing game,' one survived, Kentaro Iida, who reached the semi-final to face his teammate Kaito Green, who he defeated to reach the final. In the end, the only Japanese not qualified for the semi-finals was the current Olympic champion, a sign that the next generation and actually many generations are already knocking at the door.
This article was originally published on www.judoinside.com