Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia
1: WOMEN -48kg, MEN -60kg
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darling of Japanese judo, Ryoko Tamura and her compatriot, Tadahiro
Nomura secured a bantamweight double for the home of judo on the first
day of the 27th Olympiad in Sydney.
The stadium felt like a little Japan as Tamura's fans flooded almost
every seat in the arena. She sent them into fits of ecstasy in the
-48kgs final as she quickly disposed on her plucky Russian challenger,
Lioubov Brouletova, in just 25 seconds with a swift Uchi-mata for
Ippon. Nomura then followed her in even more impressive fashion by
despatching Bu-Kyung Jung of South Korea in just 10 seconds in the
-60kgs final, although Jung later said in the press conference that
he felt the throw merited just a Waza-ari.
Tamura was far from her best during the opening stages and only squeezed
past Shunxin Zhao of China with a Yuko five seconds from the end.
She then produced a stunning O-guruma to throw the 18-year-old Lyudmyla
Lusnikova of Ukraine for ippon before she needed a judges decision
to overcome Hyon Hyang Cha of North Korea in the semi-final. She was
delighted at finally landing the gold medal, though, after finishing
runner-up at the last two Games. The pocket dynamo dedicated her victory
to her many supporters and thanked them for their many messages before
the Games. "When I started judo as an eight-year-old I dreamt about
winning the Olympics," she said. "Now the dream has become a reality.
It is like meeting your first love again after eighty years."
Nomura, on the other hand, was dominant throughout and scored three
quick Ippons on his way to a semi-final encounter with the equally
impressive Cuban, Manolo Poulot. Nomura began the semi-final in electric
fashion and Poulot had to use every ounce of his skill to avoid a
winning score. In this early barrage, Nomura managed to score a yuko
with a drop Seoi-nage, and that proved decisive. The Japanese reigning
champion began tiring towards the end as Poulot's greater stamina
became evident. The World champion piled on the pressure and forced
a shido from Nomura but it was not quite enough. Nomura admitted to
being just as nervous as he was in his first Olympics but said this
time winning felt different. "This time it feels even better than
the last time," he said. "I have just achieved my biggest goal so
now I would like to take a break before thinking about the future."
men's competition also included a fairytale story for another medallist
as Aidyn Smagulov won Kyrgyzstan's first ever Olympic medal by throwing
Alisher Mukhtarov of Uzbekistan for Ippon with a running Kata-guruma.
It completed a great year for Smagulov who also won a silver medal
at the recent Asian championships. Poulot bounced back from his semi-final
defeat to secure the other bronze medal by throwing Bazarbek Donbay
of Kazakhstan for two Waza-aris, first with Osoto-gari and then with
a peculiar variation on a dropping, driving Seoi-nage.
There were two early upsets in the women's -48kgs event with World
Championships bronze medallist Sarah Nichilo-Rosso of France thrown
for ippon after just 23 seconds of her first round contest against
Cha. Nichilo-Rosso attacked from the start in her usual risky manner
but her uchi-mata (inner thigh throw) attempt was brilliantly countered
with a big pick-up technique, te-guruma (hand wheel).
The other major shock of the preliminaries was a disappointing defeat
for Amarilis Savon of Cuba at the hands of Brouletova. The plucky
Russian scored an early yuko with uchi-mata but the veteran second-favourite,
Savon, couldn't claw her way back into the contest despite a fierce
late rally. Both women suffered an off-day and were beaten again in
the repechage. Savon seemed out-of-sorts and lacking in ideas as she
went down against Ann Simons of Belgium, who went on to take a bronze.
Nichilo-Rosso, meanwhile, must have thought she was seeing double
as Zhao caught her with exactly the same technique as Cha, from the
same attack by the French-woman, with the same result. That time Nichilo-Rosso
had been ahead by Waza-ari, but her cavalier approach didn't pay off
this time. Zhao then fought for the other bronze but was caught with
Te-guruma for Ippon in just 10 seconds by Anna-Maria Gradante who
emulated her result at last year's Worlds.
a competition day below to read reviews »
NOMURA Tadahiro (JPN)
OZKAN Huseyin (TUR)
MADDALONI Giuseppe (ITA)
TAKIMOTO Makoto (JPN)
HUIZINGA Mark (NED)
INOUE Kosei (JPN)
DOUILLET David (FRA)
TAMURA Ryoko (JPN)
VERDECIA Legna (CUB)
FERNANDEZ Isabel (ESP)
VANDENHENDE Severine (FRA)
VERANES Sibelis (CUB)
TANG Lin (CHN)
YUAN Hua (CHN)
For full results & photos