Japanese judo kids, who both threw Russian President Vladimir Putin
down to the mat during his visits to Japan in 2000, were invited to
Russia to watch an international judo tournament and meet Russian kids.
Putin, himself a black-belt judoka,
invited Natsumi Gomi, a fourth-grade girl from Tokyo, and Shu Shikiya,
a ninth-grade boy from Okinawa Prefecture, to the President's Cup tournament
held from December 4 in Magnitogorsk, a city some 1,350 kilometers (840
miles) from the Russian capital of Moscow. Their parents and judo instructors
were also invited. The Russian judo tournament was held for the first
time under the sponsorship of Putin himself. The president told Natsumi
and Shu that he hopes both of them will participate in the second tournament,
and to this Shu replied, "I'm practicing hard toward that goal."
Urged by Putin to try throwing him
over, Natsumi threw Putin to the floor with a seoi nage, or shoulder
throw, in an exhibition match at the judo arena of Kodokan (a famous
judo school) in Tokyo on September 5, during his stay in Japan for official
talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori. Shu was the president's
practice partner when a judo event was held in his honor in Gushikawa,
Okinawa Prefecture, on the occasion of the Kyushu-Okinawa
summit meeting of the Group of Eight nations in July. Shu also threw
Putin over at the president's bidding.
Natsumi, from Gotenyama Elementary
School of Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward, also visited Saint Petersburg, Putin's
hometown facing the Baltic Sea. In the city's sports school where Putin
trained in his boyhood, Natsumi joined judo practices and partnered
with a Russian girl of her age.
Natsumi, Shu, and their group from Japan also visited the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg as a part of the Russian tour arranged for them by Putin, before attending the international judo meet and seeing the president there.
Photo: Natsumi Gomi receives a gift from President Putin. (PANA)