Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia
5: WOMEN -70kg, MEN -90kg
out our Sydney photo gallery »
fifth day of the Olympic Judo tournament in Sydney proved to be particularly
special for two reasons. World champion, Sibelis Veranes of Cuba claimed
the ultimate title to underline her authority in the women's -70kgs
category, while Mark Huizinga of the Netherlands won his country's
first Olympic gold since Willem Ruska completed a double in the 1972
Games in Munich.
Veranes won the title by beating the woman she deposed as World champion,
Kate Howey of Great Britain, with a Waza-ari from a Tani-otoshi attack.
Veranes was always in control of the final after scoring the Waza-ari
early in the bout. But she had to survive one worrying moment as Howey
came close to successfully applying Juji-gatame. "That was my chance,"
said Howey but the Cuban held out and managed to wriggle free. About
the armlock, Veranes said: "I had to give everything there and then
Veranes continued the dominance of Cuban woman in Judo by claiming
their second gold of the Games. She was always the favourite from
the beginning and took just ten seconds to dispose of her first opponent,
Yvonne Wansart of Germany. After that she had to earn the gold the
hard way by going the full four minutes with each of her next three
opponents. In the semi-final Veranes faced Min Sun Cho of South Korea
who was the reigning champion at -66kgs, a now obscolete weight category
since the they were changed two years ago. This proved to be her hardest
test and the Cuban only needed a late minor score to ensure victory.
"My whole life feels complete now," said said through a beaming smile.
"It was a great experience. It is the biggest thing that can happen
to an athlete."
Howey was equally delighted with her medal after reversing European
championship final defeat against Ursula Martin of Spain, in her semi-final.
"Revenge was sweet," she said. "I would rather have won that semi-final
than the final in Wroclaw. This means everything to me. It feels absolutely
fantastic and I'm glad to prove I'm still one of the best." Despite
only ever winning one gold medal in the 1997 World championships,
Howey remains the most consistent performer in women's judo in the
world. Since 1990 she has won a major tournament medal every year
except for 1996 when she finished fifth in the Atlanta Olympics.
the men's -90kgs category, Mark Huizinga of the Netherlands finally
claimed an international gold medal to add to the three European championships
he has won over the last four years. But the burden of becoming the
first Dutch Olympic gold medallist had also been playing on his mind.
"I have thought about that for a long time," he said. "Now that I
have won the medal, I need more time to realise what I have accomplished.
But I have a lot of time for that." Huizinga was one of the original
favourites but while the others dropped like flies, he looked the
class competitor in the field and dominated to storm to gold. In the
final he faced Carlos Honorato of Brazil, an almost unknown a year
ago before the World championships in Birmingham where he ruffled
a few feathers before finishing a credible seventh. Honorato caused
a sensation by beating the World champion, Hidehiko Yoshida of Japan
in the quarter-finals with a beautiful Uchi-mata for Ippon. That victory
was marred, however, by a tragic injury to Yoshida, who had to be
strectchered off the mat at the end. As he fell he stretched out his
right arm to break his fall, but as his weight came down on his arm,
it buckled and he dislocated his elbow.
was a popular medallist as he enthralled the crowd with some dynamic
Judo but the experience of Huizinga, who won a bronze medal four years
ago, was too much for him in the final. Huizinga's toughest fight
came against Adrian Croitoru of Romania in the quarter-finals. The
Dutchman had been beaten convincingly by Croitoru in the European
championship final in May and was then beaten again a week later in
the European Cup for teams. But this time he managed to score a vital
Koka against the out-of-sorts Romanian, and that was enough to win
what many thought would have made a great final. Croitoru was having
an off-day and lost again in the repechage, thus failing to improve
on his fifth placing in the last two Olympics. The bronze medals went
instead to Ruslan Mashurenko of Ukraine and Frederic Demontfaucon
of France. Demontfaucon won his with a spectacular Ippon against Rassoul
Salimov of Azerbaijan in the bronze medal fight. The Frenchman spun
underneath his opponent and executed a full standing Morote-seoinage
to win the bronze. It was a great moment for Demontfaucon who has
suffered many injuries in recent years that have hindered his international
outings. "I am very satisfied with this medal in my first Olympic
Games," he said. "I have had to sacrifice a lot in with my wife and
my young family to train for this, so going home with a medal around
my neck has made it all woirthwhile."
In the women's event, Cho's semi-final defeat to Veranes and the Belgian,
Ulla Werbrouck's quarter-final defeat against Ursula Martin of Spain,
pitted two reigning Olympic champions against each other in a fight
for bronze. Werbrouck won the -72kgs weight category in Atlanta and
while Cho has since stepped up a weight, the Belgian has trimmed a
couple of kilos. Werbrouck had defeated Cho in the final of the prestigious
Tournoi de Paris in February but the Korean got her revenge here with
a Waza-ari victory. Both women, who are amongst the oldest competitors,
were visibly tiring towards the end but the Korean managed to sum
up enough energy to withstand some probing attacks from Werbrouck.
The last bronze went to Ylenia Scapin of Italy who beat Martin in
their bronze fight. The Italian was clearly delighted with her medal
and couldn't stop smiling and joking around with photographers.
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