NewsJack Yonezuka

Jack Yonezuka Earns First Top-Five Grand Slam Result for a U.S. Man Since 2015

by Nicole Jomantas

Jack Yonezuka (right) went 3-2 to finish in fifth place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. (Photo by IJF)

(Colorado Springs, CO) – Twenty-year-old Jack Yonezuka (West Long Branch, NJ / NYAC / Cranford JKC) continued his quest to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games on Wednesday when he placed fifth in the 73 kg division at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam.

2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Results

Yonezuka’s 3-2 result makes him the first U.S. man to fight for a medal at a Grand Slam since 2015 when Travis Stevens (Wakefield, MA) won bronze in Tokyo less than a year before his silver medal finish at the Rio Olympic Games.

Coming off his silver medal finish at the Junior World Championships earlier this month, Yonezuka earned a bye into the round of 32 where he trailed Kote Kapanadze (GEO) by a waza-ari (half point) score in the second minute. Yonezuka pressed the Georgian throughout the match, culminating in taking the match to the ground for a pin called with two seconds on the clock.

Fighting Jorge Cano Garcia (ESP) in the round of 16, Yonezuka threw the 2023 Zagreb Grand Prix Champion for a waza-ari score early in the third minute.

In the quarter-finals, Yonezuka was thrown by Tokyo Olympian Akil Gjakova (KOS) for a waza-ari and then pinned by Gjakova who went on to win his third career Grand Slam medal with a silver.

Yonezuka quickly dispatched Jano Ruebo (GER) in the repechage, throwing Ruebo for ippon in the opening minute to secure a position in the bronze medal round.

Fighting for bronze, Yonezuka took 2023 Upper Austria Grand Prix silver medalist Rashid Mammadaliyev (AZE) through regulation and late into the first minute of Golden Score (sudden death overtime) before being thrown for a waza-ari, giving Mammadaliyev his first Grand Slam medal.

Yonezuka entered the Grand Slam ranked No. 20 on the Olympic Rankings List and is expected to move into the direct qualification range with his result.

Two-time Senior Pan American Championships bronze medalist John Jayne (Chicago, IL) also moved up the Olympic Ranking List in Abu Dhabi where he earned a top-16 result in the 90 kg division on Thursday.

After a bye into the round of 32, Jayne threw 2022 Junior World bronze medalist Alex Cret (CRO) for ippon (instant win) in the third minute.

Jayne was thrown for ippon in his next match by Giorgi Jabnishvili (GEO) who went on to win bronze.

Yonezuka’s older brother, Nick Yonezuka (West Long Branch, NJ / NYAC / Cranford JKC) also competed in Abu Dhabi, earning a top-32 finish in the 81 kg division.

Yonezuka needed just 19 seconds to throw Haseeb Mustafa (PAK) for ippon in the round of 64.

In the round of 32, Yonezuka fought Somon Makhmadbekov (TJK) who entered the tournament with three straight wins on the international circuit, including gold at the Asian Games, the Qazaqstan Barysy Grand Slam and the Dushanbe Grand Prix. Makhmadbekov threw Yonezuka for a waza-ari in the opening minute. In the final minute, Makhmadbekov took control of the match on the ground, armbarring Yonezuka for the win.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

Men’s 60 kg
1. Cedric Revol (FRA)
2. Matheus Takaki (BRA)
3. Francisco Garrigos (ESP)
3. Ayub Bliev (AIN)
5. Tornike Tsjakadoea (NED)
5. Kamoliddin Bakhtiyorov (UZB)
7. Nurkanat Serikbayev (KAZ)
7. Nurkanat Serikbayev (KAZ)

Women’s 48 kg
1. Assunta Scutto (ITA)
2. Sila Ersin (TUR)
3. Blandine Pont (FRA)
3. Leyla Aliyeva (AZE)
5. Catarina Costa (POR)
5. Francesca Milani (ITA)
7. Marusa Stangar (SLO)
7. Andrea Stojadinov (SRB)

Men’s 66 kg
1. Vazha Margvelashvili (GEO)
2. Mukhriddin Tilovov (UZB)
3. Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (UAE)
3. Erkhembayar Battogtokh (MGL)
5. Ruslan Pashayev (AZE)
5. Gusman Kyrgyzbayev (KAZ)
7. Samuel Hall (GBR)
7. David Garcia Torne (ESP)

Men’s 52 kg
1. Odette Giuffrida (ITA)
2. Mascha Ballhaus (GER)
3. Yeqing Zhu (CHN)
3. Naomi Van Krevel (NED)
5. Jessia Pereira (BRA)
5. Astride Gneto (FRA)
7. Annika Wurfel (GER)
7. Estrella Lopez Sheriff (ESP)

Men’s 73 kg
1. Shakhram Ahadov (UZB)
2. Akil Gjakova (KOS)
3. Rashid Mammadaliyev (AZE)
3. Makhmadbek Makhmadbekov (AIN)
5. Jack Yonezuka (West Long Branch, NJ / NYAC / Cranford JKC)
5. Daniyar Shamshayev (KAZ)
7. Jano Ruebo (GER)
7. Salvador Cases Roca (ESP)

Women’s 57 kg
1. Jessica Klimkait (CAN)
2. Christa Deguchi (CAN)
3. Kseniia Galitskaia (AIN)
3. Jessica Lima (BRA)       
5. Seija Ballhaus (GER)
5. Paulina Starke (GER)
7. Lele Nairne (GBR)
7. Daria Kurbonmamadova (AIN)

Men’s 81 kg
1. David Karapetyan (AIN)
2. Frank De Wit (NED)
3. Wachid Borchashvili (AUT)
3. Nugzari Tatalashvili (UAE)
5. Joao Fernando (POR)
5. Antonio Esposito (ITA)
7. Asad Masabirov (KGZ)
7. Giacomo Gamba (ITA)

7. Nick Yonezuka (West Long Branch, NJ / NYAC / Cranford JKC), 1-1  

Women’s 63 kg
1. Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (CAN)
2. Jing Tang (CHN)
3. Cristina Cabana Perez (ESP)
3. Lubjana Piovesana (AUT)
5. Nauana Silva (BRA)
5. Renata Zachova (CZE)
7. Magdalena Krssakova (AUT)
7. Katharina Haecker (AUS)

Also Competed: Hannah Martin (Burnt Hills, NY / NYAC), 0-1

Men’s 90 kg
1. Nemanja Majdov (SRB)
2. Tristani Mosakhlishvili (ESP)
3. Giorgi Jabniashvili (GEO)
3. Krisztian Toth (HUN)   
5. Klen Kristofer Kaljulaid (EST)
5. Sungho Lee (KOR)
7. Vugar Talibov (AZE)
7. Thomas Scharfetter (AUT)

Also Competed: John Jayne (Chicago, IL), 1-1   
Davit Aghasaryan (Sunland, CA / LA Tenri), 0-1

Women’s 70 kg
1. Madina Taimazova (AIN)
2. Ida Eriksson (SWE)
3. Hilde Jager (NED)
3. Aoife Coughlan (AUS)
5. Anka Pogacnik (SLO)
5. Kelly Petersen Pollard (GBR)
7. Michaela Polleres (AUT)
7. Miria Mutkereit (GER)

Men’s 100 kg
1. Arman Adamian (AIN)
2. Aleksandar Kukolj (SRB)
3. Aaron Fara (AUT)
3. Shady Elnahas (CAN)
5. Marc Francois Ngayap (FRA)
5. Michael Korrel (NED)
7. Dzhafar Kostoev (UAE)
7. Louis Mai (GER)

Also Competed: L.A. Smith III (Rahway, NJ), 0-1

Women’s 78 kg
1. Alice Bellandi (ITA)
2. Fanny Estelle Posvite (FRA)
3. Alina Boehm (GER)
3. Anna-Maria Wagner (GER)
5. Emma Reid (GBR)
5. Patricia Sampaio (POR)
7. Marie Branser (GUI)
7. Petrunjela (CRO)

Men’s +100 kg
1. Inal Tasoev (AIN)
2. Erik Abramov (GER)
3. Tamerlan Bashaev (AIN)
3. Jelle Snippe (NED)
5. Saba Inaneishvili (GEO)
5. Losseni Kone (GER)
7. Magomedomar Magomedomarov (UAE)
7. Ushangi Kokauri (AZE)     

Women’s +78 kg
1. Rochele Nunes (POR)
2. Kamila Berlikash (KAZ)
3. Elis Startseva (AIN)
3. Lea Fontaine (FRA)
5. Larisa Ceric (BIH)
5. Erica Simonetti (ITA)
7. Giovanna Santos (BRA)
7. Asya Tavano (ITA)

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