Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia
4: WOMEN -63kg, MEN -81kg
out our Sydney photo gallery »
Vandenhende of France and Makoto Takimoto of Japan grabbed the spoils
on the fourth day of the 2000 Olympic Judo tournament in Sydney. Vandenhende
completed a remarkable turnaround after two disappointing seasons
since her World title on home soil in 1997. The French woman edged
out Shufeng Li of China on penalties in the final to add the Olympic
title at the end of a successful season that included silver medals
at both the prestigious Tournoi de Paris and the European championships.
Vandenhende had the toughest possible draw in the women's -63kgs category,
with World champion, Keiko Maeda of Japan and Asian champion Sung
Sook Jung both in her quarter of the draw. Jung actually beat Vandenhende
in the final in Paris by Ippon and the Korean was her first fight.
Jung started more positively and scored a Yuko but Vandenhende was
always in the fight. Finally in the last minute, the French-woman
scored an Ippon through a piece of ingenious improvisation. She attacked
Jung with Kouchi-gari which the Korean countered with a pick-up. As
she began to pivot on her back foot to turn Vandenhende onto her back,
the French-woman clipped her front leg, thus preventing the twist.
Jung crashed down onto her back and Vandenhende strode into the next
round. A clash with Maeda was expected but didn't materialise as the
Japanese World champion was beaten by Celita Schutz of the USA.
Vandenhende continued to throw each opponent for Ippon until she met
Anja Von Rekowski of Germany in the semi-final. She won by virtue
of two Waza-aris although the second one left her completely bemused
and in fact one corner judge even felt it should have gone to Von
Rekowski. In the final she met Shufeng Li of China who had scored
a surprise quarter-final victory against Gella Vandecaveye. Vandenhende
lost by Koka to Li in the final of the Citta di Roma in April so she
was not about to underestimate her opponent. It was won on penalties
as the 21-year-old Chinese was penalised for dropping with just 10
seconds remaining so Vandenhende added an Olympic gold to the World
championship gold she won in 1997.
completed a remarkable turnaround for Vandenhende this season since
her victory in 1997. She missed the 1998 season due to injury and
then had a miserable 1999 when the defence of her world title ended
in the first round before her season again ended with an injury. "I
feel like I've won a competition," said the champion, "but it doesn't
feel like the Olympics. At the moment it just feels like another competition.
I think it will probably sink in during the next few days."
The men's -81kgs final was a repeat of the 1995 Asian championships
final between Takimoto and In Chul Cho of South Korea. Just as five
years before, Takimoto was triumphant and something of a surprise
champion even back home in Japan where few people gave him a chance,
particularly seeing as he recently finished only third in a weakened
Asian championships. Takimoto faced some tough challenges along the
way, particularly in the semi-final against the reigning champion,
Djamel Bouras of France. Takimoto was unfazed by his illustrious and
awkward opponent, though, and a Waza-ari score late in the bout with
a classical Tai-otoshi, proved enough to qualify for the final. Cho
was the overwhelming favourite in the final but Takimoto attacked
relentlessly and landed the vital scores to take the Olympic crown.
Afterwards he said: "During an Olympic training camp I bought a magazine
that rated the chances of the Japanese fighters. They only gave me
a 30% chance of winning the gold medal, so I thought, 'I'll show you'.
When I actually won the medal, though, I had completely forgotten
about that article." Cho was a little disappointed, though, and said:
"I am a little bit sad. Koreans are only happy when they win gold."
Bouras faced the Estonian, Alexsi Budolin in the bronze fight. He
seemed to find it hard to lift himself after his semi-final defeat
and three times he conceded a Koka to the same technique, Tani-otoshi.
Bouras seemed very upset after that defeat, having also finished fifth
at last year's World championship, and was seen pointing to the referees
table and announcing his displeasure about something. In the meantime,
Budolin received a phone call from the Estonian president to congratulate
him on his medal. Nuno Delgado of Portugal won the other bronze medal
by armlocking the Frenchman-turned-Uruguayan, Alvaro Paseyro. He had
knocked out the World championship silver medallist, Farkhod Turaev
of Uzbekistan in the first round but couldn't quite make it onto the
podium. It was the third time Delgado had won with juji-gatame during
the day and he dedicated his medal to his national association.
In the women's competition, two of the favourites bounced back from
their disappointments to earn bronze medals. Vandecaveye beat Von
Rekowski for a podium finished but she had mixed emotions at the end.
She was glad just to be in the tournament after tearing her cruciate
knee cross-ligament in July but felt she had been robbed of a gold
medal. She said: "two months ago I was not even sure I would come
here so if you take into account the context of my bronze medal then
it is a good result. But it could have been more. I lost against the
referees, not the Chinese. That is sport, though, sometimes you have
to be lucky." Her coach, Jean-Marie Deddecker added: "The first thing
she said to me when she left the mat was 'the referees cost me gold.'"
Jung was the other favourite to also come back to take a bronze but
she needed a unanimous judges' decision to beat Jenny Gal of Italy.
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