|HOME | SPORTS | OLYMPICS | NEWS|
|August 29, 2000||
Japan eves look for judo goldScott McDonald in Sydney
Led by one of Japan's most popular athletes, Ryoko Tamura, Japanese women are expected to be the ones to beat in judo at the Sydney Olympics.
Tamura, who has won the last four world championships, will be looking to bounce back from a surprise defeat in the 48 kg final in Atlanta four years ago, and is the best prospect of what could be four Japanese gold medal chances in the seven women's weight divisions.
"The Japanese are expected to dominate in many of the categories," John Buckley, one of the tournament organisers, said on Tuesday.
"She (Tamura) is the standout in the women's draw, and the Japanese expectations on her are enormous," Buckley said. "The Olympic title is the only major championship she has not won."
Tamura became one of the most popular athletes in Japan after she went four years without losing until her shock defeat in the 1996 final, one of the biggest upsets of the Atlanta Games.
Tamura, who lost to unknown North Korean Kye Sun-hi, also won a silver in Barcelona in 1992 as a 16-year-old.
Buckley said Cuba, France and Great Britain were expected to challenge Japan in the women's competition.
In the 52 kg class, Noriko Narasaki was expected to challenge defending champion Marie-Claire Restoux of France, with Cuban Legna Verdecia also a factor
In 63 kg, Keiko Maeda will be challenged by Belgium's Atlanta silver medallist Gella Vandecaveye, who she beat in the final of the world championship last year.
Japan also has a two-time world champion, Noriko Anno, as the favourite in the 78 kg class.
Cuba is expected to do well in both the 57 kg and 70 kg classes, with Driulis Gonzalez back to defend her 57 kg title, and world champion Sibelis Veranes expected to battle Belgium's Ulla Werbrouck for the gold in the 70 kg class.
Poland's Beala Maksymow is the favourite in the women's heaviest division, over 78 kg.
Buckley said the Japanese men were also strong but faced tougher competition than the women.
Cuban world champion Manuolo Poulot is favoured in the 60 kg class, while Huseyin Ozkan of Turkey and France's Larbi Benboudaoud are expected to battle for the gold in the 66 kg class.
World champion Jimmy Pedro of the United States is the favourite in 73 kg, as is Great Britain's first world champion in nearly two decades Graeme Randall in the 81 kg class.
Japan's world champion Hidehiko Yoshida, the gold medallist in Barcelona who finished fifth four years ago, is expected to reach the final in the 90 kg division, as is fellow world champion Kosei Inoue in the 100 kg class.
Inoue will be Japan's flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony on September 15.
The over 100 kg competition should be a battle between defending champion David Douillet of France, who is coming back from an injury, and Japan's Shinichi Shinohara, who won last year's world championship.
The September 16-22 judo competition will take place not at the main Homebush Bay Olympic site, but at the Sydney Exhibition Centre Halls in Darling Harbour, one of Sydney's main tourist destinations that is walking distance from the city centre.
Mail Sports Editor
TRAVEL | NEWSLINKS
ROMANCE | WEDDING | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | FREE MESSENGER | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK