Asian Games 2002
Pusan, Korea: Sept 30 - Oct 3, 2002
By: Bob Willingham
| The Asian Championships
was being held as part of the Asian Games 2002 in Pusan, Korea. In the Asian Sporting calender
this Championships comes second only to the Olympic Games and is organised as such. The grand
opening ceremony climaxed with the final leg of the torch procession being run by two past
Olympic Champion judo players, U48kg Kye (North Korea) and U95kg Hyung-Zoo Ha (South Korea).
They ran through the stadium clutching the torch together to light the Games flame.
On my arrival at the stadium I was dismayed to see that the photographers positions were
on either side of the two fighting areas making it impossible to cover all the fights adequately.
But there was a small space in front of the commissions table (about 20cm wide) and with the
kind assistance of Mr Ahn, General Secretary of the Korean Judo Federation and the tolerance
of the commission I sat there for four days, only moving out in the two breaks before and
after the repechage fights, and then only very slowly as I uncrossed my legs from being locked
in the cross legged position! However having travelled that far, it was worth the discomfort
to obtain the prime camera location. On the second day I was surprised on entering the stadium
to find that the photographers had been banished to the front row of the spectators seating!
In this age of media led sports we have to find a way to accommodate photographers to allow
them to get the best shots, thereby hopefully increasing the press coverage.
However, much care had been taken with the stadium layout, even the 'dead' corners that can
occur in the background of many shots had been considered, with Asian Games Banners hanging
over the gaps left by entrances into the arena, and blank walls being broken up with large
One whole section of the stadium was filled with female North Korean supporters. These cheerleaders
dressed in Drum Majorette style costumes had arrived in Busan on board a ship. Their tightly
choreographed songs delivered from a sitting position, varied from chanting anthems accompanied
by wooden clackers and drums that crescendoed and diminished rythmicly, to visually mesmerising
fluffy 'fans' that en-mass changed colour from red to white to blue creating a stunningly
colourful effect. They were all uniformly seated one hour before the fights started and began
their performance, led by four elegant dancers whose mirrored movements and traditional style
dancing made a show in itself. They cheered loudly when the Korean fighters stepped on to
the mat and louder still for the North Koreans.
Their chanting was matched throughout the
stadium by other large groups who accompanied their cheering with loud donking sounds made
by inflatable red plastic tubes being struck together. In the midst of this, groups of Japanese
supporters tried to make themselves heard amongst the rival Koreans. Yoshihiro Akiyama JPN
U81kg (Mr Showtime), who was born Korean, paid tribute to his small but loyl band of supporters
after winning Gold by scaling the 2 metre wall surrounding the field of play. The atmosphere
was certainly well charged!
The North Korean fan club did not go home disappointed though, as Hong Ok Song took Gold in
the U57kg, beating tough opposition from KGZ & CHN before meeting Kusakabe JPN in the
final and scoring a Waza-ari just 3 seconds from time.
The organisers of the event had certainly employed a proficient team of lighting designers
to illuminate the stadium. The two banks of light either side of the mats provided a beautifully
lit fighting area, the outside edge of which dropped away to leave the spectators in 20% light,
ensuring maximum drama for the TV pictures.
The venue was the perfect size to accommodate a capacity crowd. There is nothing worse than
a large stadium with lots of empty seats! In general, at four day events with the weight categories
either increasing or reducing, days 2 & 3 (the middle weights) produce the most spectacular
Judo and have the largest number of competitors. If these categories were divided out over
the four days it would give a more uniform spread of exciting judo and even out the number
of fights on each day.
Moving on to the fighters - one entry that caused a stir amongst the organisers was an U81kg
entrant from Afganistan. Even though the Afgans are not members of the JUA, in the cause of
sportsmanship the DC had decided to allow him to enter. Unfortunately though he failed to
appear at the event. An unusual incident in the women's competition came when Kye PRK (fighting
at U52kg on this occasion) somehow cut the top surface of her foot. Medical was called on
and wanted to apply a plaster but Kye refused twice before the referee insisted. It was almost
as if she was worried that the 'wet wipe' or the plaster had been drugged or treated in some
way so as to affect her performance. Interestingly, with the experiments that have been carried
out around the world using the 'Golden Score' rule, it seems likely that it will be adopted
in time for next years World Championships and you might have expected the JUA to have trialed
it here. However they didn't, but I bet they wish they had. On three occasions Hantai was
called between Japan and either Korea or North Korea. The reaction of the spectators was not
good when Japan took the decision!
Kosei Inoue made his first international venture into the Open weight category. His first
opponent, Ikhsangaliyev KAZ, had obviously worked on a defence to the 'ultimate Uchi-mata'
and managed to block the first two attacks, then the direction was changed to Ouchi- gari
which scored Ippon. Inoue's next victim from Wan from Malaysia must have regretted entering.
Certainly he will have something to dine out on; the day he gained his 'wings' after just
17 seconds, with one of the biggest Uchi-matas ever! It must have had a lasting effect on
him as he didn't show up for his repechage fight. The semi-final against Jang KOR took the
home crowd to fever pitch but their hopes were dashed by a Japanese Ouchi- gari for Ippon.
The anticipated meeting of Inuoe with the giants of the category (David meets Goliath) did
not happen as both Miran IRI and Liu CHN were beaten by others and eventually took Bronzes.
The final lasted two minutes, with Tangriev UZB (who in his previous fight dramatically threw
the massive Miran with Uchi-mata-sukashi) attacking constantly and giving Inoue a hard time
on grips before another huge Uchi-mata gave Inoue the title. The only Gold medallist with
a full run of Ippons, this also won this great Japanese fighter the men's Ippon Trophy. The
winner of the female Ippon Trophy was Ayumi Tanimoto also of Japan.
HAJI AKHONDZADEH, Masoud (IRI)
KIM, Hyung Ju (KOR)
CHOI, Yong Sin (KOR)
AKIYAMA, Yoshihiro (JPN)
YAZAKI, Yuta (JPN)
SUZUKI, Keiji (JPN)
MUNETA, Yauyuki (JPN)
INOUE, Kosei (JPN)
KITADA, Kayo (JPN)
LEE, Eun Hee (KOR)
HONG, Ok Song (PRK)
TANIMOTO, Ayumi (JPN)
QIN, Dongya (CHN)
JO, Soo Hee (KOR)
SUN, Fuming (CHN)
TONG, Wen (CHN)