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Tadahiro Nomura’s third Olympic Gold in 2004 Athens
14 Aug 2004 23:55
After his success in the 2000 Sydney Olympics Tadahiro Nomura disappeared once again and would re-emerge only in 2003. His first international tournament then was the 2003 Warsaw World Cup where he failed to get any medal (he lost the bronze match to Kenji Uematsu of Spain).
In the World Championships that year, Nomura lost a well-fought match against World Champion Anis Lounifi of Tunisia but bounced back to win a bronze medal. He ended the year on a high winning the 2003 Tournoi de Paris (now Paris Grand Slam).
He was peaking as he went into the 2004 Athens Olympics and it showed in his brilliant performance where he displayed an ever increasing range of techniques. He had an easy first round match, against a player from the Dominican Republic whom he threw with uchimata and morote-seoi-nage.
Against Oliver Gussenberg of Germany he used a standing morote-seoi-nage which is not his preferred approach (normally he drops). Against Miguel Albarracin of Argentina he used uchimata sukashi, sidestepping his opponent for ippon.
His semi-final opponent was the unorthodox Mongolian Khashbaatar Tsagaanbaatar (who would in 2009 become the first World Champion from Mongolia). Nomura may be a very classical fighter but he is well-equipped to handle unorthodox opponents, as he showed when he thwarted the Mongolian's pick-up attempt with a driving ouchi-gari for ippon.
Nomura's final bout was against another unorthodox player, Nestor Khergiani of Georgia. These were the days when leg grabs and pick-ups were allowed so Nomura played a cautious, tactical game. Rather than expose himself to a pick-up he did just enough to force his opponent to accrue penalties and at the end of the match, his opponents had more penalties than he. It was a tactical win but a win's a win and Nomura had achieved something no other player had ever done before (and might not ever be equaled).
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Jonathan Dewar (GBR)