Top judo athletes Hifumi Abe and his younger sister Uta will compete together this Summer at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The unprecedented cancellation of last years Olympic Games due to the actual world context was a huge disappointment to sports fans worldwide, and we wait with baited breath to hear if Japan will go ahead and stage the worlds biggest sporting even this year.
Whilst the delay has been devastating for some athletes who felt that 2020 was their last chance to compete at a world-class level, the situation has created an exciting opportunity for Hifumi Abe.
Hifumi defeated reigning world champion Joshiro Maruyama in the men’s 66-kg division playoff to secure his place on Japans team at the Tokyo Olympics, a stunning victory over a fighter who had previously won back-to-back world titles in 2017 and 2018.
Now a superstar in his Japanese homeland, he will finally join his younger sister Uta who was already on the bill to participate in the Tokyo Olympics. “I’d kept her waiting. Now we can say we’ll go for hold together” said Abe, continuing “I want to make it to a stage where I display my absolute best. This isn’t a goal yet, I’ll roll up my sleeves and strive to win”.
Could Japan be the Star of their homeland games?
Japan collected more Judo medals than any other country at the 2016 Olympic games which were held in Rio, Brazil. It was this large cache of Judo medals that boosted Japans standing in the overall rankings, which saw them reach 6th place overall. With the Abe siblings on their side, the Japanese team stand an excellent chance of achieving a high ranking place in the 2021 games as well. In fact, taking a look at the sports betting odds at Unibet, Japan is currently the 4th favorite to win the highest number of gold medals at Tokyo 2021.
The head coach of the Japan men’s Olympic team and former Olympic gold medalist Kosei Inoue feels slightly disappointed that Maruyama will not be competing. Inoue would like to have seen Abe and Maruyama face off against each other in an Olympic contest, but said “Abe will fight carrying Maruyama’s spirit at the Olympics. It was just a fantastic battle between the two” when asked about the fight at the All-Japan Weight Class Championships which saw Hifumi Abe defeat his opponent and secure his place on the Olympic team.
Who is Hifumi Abe?
Abe is a former Youth Olympic champion, a title he first won back in 2014. He is currently the half-lightweight Judo World Champion, and has been fighting professionally since he was just 17 years old, when he delivered a shock victory over then-World Champion Masashi Ebinuma. His most recent title came last year when he beat Joshiro Maruyama to become the national half-lightweight champion at the All-Japan Judo Championships. His record of 25 wins (18 by ippon) and 3 losses (2 by ippon) makes him a formidable opponent and a surefire favorite with the bookies at Tokyo 2021.
Watching Hifumi in action is a sight to behold, as he always delivers an exciting battle on the Judo mat. His fight against Maruyama went the distance, before Abe delivered a stunning attack 20 minutes into extra time. “It was a really long battle. I knew it was going to be a battle of emotions and was determined never to back off”, said Abe. “I could show my brand of judo until the last second. The result at the end arrived as I kept getting on the front foot”.
Let’s hope that Hifumi Abe and his sister Uta can continue to show their aggressive, power-based style when they compete in the biggest tournament of their careers later this year.