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November 1997

Tamura Wins Third Straight Gold Medal at World Judo Championships

Japan's Ryoko Tamura scored her third consecutive World Championships victory on October 12 when she defeated Cuba's Amarilo Savon for the gold medal in the 48-kilogram (106-pound) class.

The triumph helped erase painful memories of her shocking defeat to a little-known North Korean athlete in the final of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

"I'm really happy," Tamura said after her win. "This gives me the confidence to keep trying. I want to win my fourth title in a row before going to the Sydney Games in 2000," she said.

Nicknamed Yawara-chan after a feisty cartoon judo star, Tamura is one of Japan's most popular athletes. She was the flag bearer for the Japanese delegation at the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Games.

More than 100 countries competed in the October 9-12 World Championships in Paris, with matches in two men's and two women's weight divisions being held each day. The categories were the same as those in the Olympic Games, with the addition of an open-weight class in both men's and women's competition.

Japan's Olympic champion Tadahiro Nomura won in the men's 60-kilogram (132-pound) title match by defeating Georg Revazishvili of Georgia.

Photo: Tamura pulls Savon down in the title match. (Kyodo)