A DECADE OF DOMINANCE:
Ryoko Tamura Wins Tenth Straight Judo Championship
January 26, 2000
Tamura holding her trophy in Fukuoka. (Jiji Press)
At the Fukuoka Women's Judo Championships held in December 1999, Ryoko Tamura came out victorious in the 48-kilogram class for the tenth year in a row. This unprecedented feat came only two months after she had become the first Japanese female to win four straight victories at the World Judo Championships, held in Birmingham, Britain. At age 25, Tamura is unrivaled in strength and can safely be said to be in the prime of her athletic life. As she aims for the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in fall 2000, her only anxiety is the injury on her left little finger that she suffered during the final match of the Fukuoka contest.
Tamura's Stamping Ground
Tamura's tenth consecutive victory at her home ground, Fukuoka, did not come as easily as her first. She lacked her usual sharpness from round one of the tournament, instead having to rely more on tactical maneuvers. Tamura won the final match against her long-standing rival, Amarilis Savon of Cuba, on points, but she hurt her left hand during the bout.
After a close examination she was told that she had fractured a cartilage and severed a tendon in her little finger and that the injury needed two months to fully heal. The doctor recommended surgery, but Tamura, having reservations about allowing her finger to be cut open, decided to let it heal on its own.
Going for the Gold in Sydney
"I'm sure that the experience of having won ten tournaments in a row at Fukuoka will help my performance at Sydney. I think of my injury, too, as an ordeal that will bear fruit at the Olympics," says the ever-positive Tamura. Will the diminutive athlete be able to overcome the challenge and finally become an Olympic gold medalist? People across Japan have their eyes fixed on the national heroine's every move.
Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.