Yawara calls it quit
It was a matter of time Ryoko Tani would have to give up judo. She won a seat in the upper house election in July, but at that time she said she will still continue to aim for the Olympic Games in judo. On Oct 15, she gave a news conference to say she is afterall giving up judo.
Yawara wins ticket to the Olympics again
Ryoko, formerly Tamura, now Tani, because she married pro baseball player Yoshitomo Tani, won a ticket to Athens on Apr 11 in the women's 48th kilo division. It will be her 4th Olympic Game appearance. She at the same time clinched the Japan title for the 13th time And on the same day, Noriko Anno has secured an Olympic berth for the 3rd tim in the women's 78 kilo.
World Judo Championships in Osaka
Competitions were launched on Sept 11. Japan already clinched 3 medals on the first day. Kosei Inou won his 3rd gold in a row in the championships in the men's 100 kilo, and he clinched all bouts with an "ippon". Yasuyuki Mineta in the men's 100 kilo plus won his first gold. In the women's it was Noriko Anno again winning a gold in the 78 kilo division. On Sept 12, in the women's 70 kilo red-haired Masae Ueno won the gold. And judo's superstar, Ryoko Tamura was on to fight in the women's 48 kilo division on Sept 14. She won her 6th straight championships gold medal in front of her fiance, Orix BlueWave's Yoshitomo Tani. In the men's open weight, Kenji Suzuki with a "kosotogake" clinched the gold. But he has not secured the ticket to the Olympic Games next year, as he would have to fight for the position with Kosei Inoue. Two time Olympic gold medalist Tadahiro Nomura in the men's 60 kilo settled for the bronze.
Yawara faces historic loss
Ryoko Tamura, in the first round of the national women's championship on April 14, faced high school student Tomoko Fukumi. Fukumi earned a koka from Tamura, and she lost. Her winning streak ended at 65. Tamura, popularly known as Yawara-chan was out from competition for 9 months due to a leg injury.
World Judo Championships in Munich
The championships opened in Munich on July 26 for a 3 day competition. On the first day, already a medal rush. In the men's 100 kilo, Olympic champion Kosei Inoue won all matched with an "ippon" to clinch the gold. In the women's 78 kilo, Noriko Anno won too--her 3rd straight championship title. However, in the men's 100 kilo-plus event, Shinichi Shinohara finished only 3rd.
On July 27, another gold for Japan. It's in the very competitive women's 70 kilo that Masae Ueno won. On July 29, Japan's superstar came on. Ryoko Tamura, was reported to have had quite a serious pain, that there were worries she may not be able to participate. But she did. And he amazingly won a gold medal. It's her 5th straight championship title.
Yawara extends record
Sydney Olympic gold medalist Ryoko Tamura clinched the 48 kilo division on Dec. 10. It's her 11th straight Fukuoka International Women's Judo title. Tamura defeated Chiho Hamano. Hamano is Tamura's training partner. Her boyfriend, Yoshi Tani of the Orix BlueWave was there to support her.
Japanese rep in all divisions for the Olympic
On May 28, it was confirmed that Japan will be represented in every division of judo. That'll be 14 in all including men and women. It was as a result of the Asian Judo Championship in Osaka. The Nakamura brothers will take part, but only 2 of them this time, previously silver medalist Yukimasa and gold winner Kenzo. It's believed that including coaches and other supporters, the judo delegation to Sydney will reach 50.
Tamura clinches 10th national title in a row
Idol judoka Ryoko Tamura with difficulty was able to win the national championship on Apr. 9. She's broken her left finger a couple of months ago, and had sustained a sprained finger in the right hand too. It was rumored that she may have to give up Sidney. But she climbed up to the final of the woman's 48 kilo division and won for the 10th straight time. And simultaneously she clinched the berth to the Olympic Games.
Tamura's 10th straight victory in Fukuoka
At Fukuoka International Women's Judo Tournament, all eyes were on whether Ryoko Tamura would be able to clinch another title in the 48 kilo division. On Dec. 12, she did not move as brilliantly as she's known for, but made it to the final and faced her Cuban rival Amarilis Savon. She won as a result of the judges decision. And in tears, she marked her 10th straight tournament win.
World Judo Championships in Birmingham
Japan's celebrated a gold rush on the opening day on Oct. 7, 1999 . For the first time in a decade, a Japanese clinched a gold in men's the over 100 kilo class. Shinichi Shinohara was behind in the final match, but reversed the score with an sotogari. For the men's 100 kilo weight class, Kosei Inoue became first in 12 years. And Noriko Anno in the women's 78 class won the title with a ouchigari. It's her 2nd straight championship gold.
On the second day, 30-year old Hidehiko Yoshida who many regarded as past his prime clinched the gold for the first time at the championships. He tackled the 90 kilo division. It's at his 4th try. Yoshida was a gold medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. In the womens', first time participant Keiko Maeda also won her first championship gold. The 19-year old fought in the 63 kilo weight. At this point, Japan's already won more gold than the previous championships.
In the women's 52 kilo weight Noriko Nagasaki for the first time won a championship gold on Oct. 9. She married and quit judo, but feeling that she had not given all she had to the sport, she decided to fight again.
On the final day, Japan collected more gold medals. Long time judo idol Ryoko Tamura won the title in the women's 48 kilo for the 4th time in a row. Shinichi Shinohara clinched another class--this time the open weight. He's the 4th in the history of the World Championships to win 2 classes. Japan's total gold medal counts reached 8.
World Judo Championships in Paris (Oct. 9 - 12)
On the first day of competitions, Noriko Anno clinched the gold medal in the women's 72 kilo category. She defeated previous world champion, Cuba's Diadenis Luna in the final. Anno is only the 3rd Japanese woman to become world champion. Also on Oct.9, Miho Ninomiya who fought in the over 72 kilo class, and Shinichi Shinohara in the men's over 95 kilo division won silver medals. Yoshio Nakamura of the 95 kilo division took the bronze. On the second day, no Japanese were able to win a medal.
The first man to take the gold was Kenzo Nakamura --the youngest of the 3 Nakamura brothers who are all participants of this championships. This was on Oct. 11, in front of a crowd of 14,000.(This is the correct number!) The young Nakamura, gold medalist of the Atlanta Olympic Games completed a fascinating "ippon" on France's Christophe Gaguliano in the 71 kilo class.
On the final day, Japan captured 2 gold medals.
One was Atlanta Olympic winner Tadahiro Nomura in the men's 60 kilo class.
The other was the popular Ryoko Tamura in the women's 48 kilo.
This is her 3rd championship title.
Yoshiharu Makishi settled for a silver in the men's open weight category.
Miho Ninomiya clinched her second medal, this time a bronce in the women's open weight.
Japan's medal count totalled 10. That's the same as in the previous champioships.
Michiyo's Note: Japanese TV commentators were expressing disappointment regarding the judgement of the referees. It has to do with the decision of a "koka" or an "ippon".
Colored wear become official
The International Judo Federation declared on Oct. 6 that colored judo wear must be worn at major events. They include the Olympic Games, World Championships, World Junior Championships and the World Cup. Japan though is resisting the idea for its domestic international competitions -- the Kano Cup and the Fukuoka International Women's Judo.
Former world champion debuts in pro wrestling
4 time world champion in judo, Naoya Ogawa challenged IWGP heavy weight champion Shinya Hashimoto at the Tokyo Dome on April 12. Ogawa came on the ring wearing his judo wear, looking not too different from the time he competed in the Japanese martial art. Ogawa grabbed Hashimoto from behind and pulled him down 9 minutes and 25 minutes into the match. Ogawa defeated the pro wrestling champion to a TKO. A rematch is expected on May 3 at the Osaka Dome.
First Japanese judoka in color
It was the first time anybody saw a Japanese judoka clad in a blue judo wear at an official international competition. The sight was witnessed in Russia on Jan.25. The Japan Judo Federation claims though that this is just an experimental move. But some people believe this "experiment" has encouraged the ruling international body to go ahead with their plan to use colored judo wear at the World Championships. At any rate, they will decide what to do in October 1997.
Colored judo wear for Japan
Officials of the Japan Judo Federation disclosed on Dec. 10, 1996 that Japan will for the first time take part in judo events where they use colored judo wear. The federation will send their judoka to the competitions in Europe from January to March in 1997. In Europe, they have been using colored uniforms from April 1996 to make the martial art more visually attractive for television coverage, so anyone who takes part in judo events there is obliged to wear colors including the traditional white.
Now, this is a major decision for Japan. Japan has been refusing to use colored uniforms in judo claiming that white is the only permissible color for the Japanese born Olympic sport. The step Japan will take next year may bring about universal change in the martial art. The Japan Judo Federation, however, says this move does not mean they have approved of the usage of colored uniforms.
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