That special day in 2000, exactly 20 years ago, when both Japanese legends Ryoko Tani and Tadahiro Nomura won the Olympic title in Sydney. JudoInside witnessed that amazing Japanese first Olympic day in Darling Harbour. We throwback to 16 September 2000, drawn up by Barnaby Chesterman for the World of Judo Magazine.
The stadium felt like a little Japan as Tamura's fans flooded almost every seat in the arena. She sent them into fits of ecstasy in the -48kgs final as she quickly disposed on her plucky Russian challenger, Lioubov Brouletova, in just 25 seconds with a swift Uchi-mata for Ippon. Nomura then followed her in even more impressive fashion by despatching Bu-Kyung Jung of South Korea in just 10 seconds in the -60kgs final, although Jung later said in the press conference that he felt the throw merited just a Waza-ari.
Tamura was far from her best during the opening stages and only squeezed past Shunxin Zhao of China with a Yuko five seconds from the end. She then produced a stunning O-guruma to throw the 18-year-old Lyudmyla Lusnikova of Ukraine for ippon before she needed a judges decision to overcome Hyon Hyang Cha of North Korea in the semi-final. She was delighted at finally landing the gold medal, though, after finishing runner-up at the last two Games. The pocket dynamo dedicated her victory to her many supporters and thanked them for their many messages before the Games. "When I started judo as an eight-year-old I dreamt about winning the Olympics," she said. "Now the dream has become a reality. It is like meeting your first love again after eighty years."
Nomura, on the other hand, was dominant throughout and scored three quick ippons on his way to a semi-final encounter with the equally impressive Cuban, Manolo Poulot. Nomura began the semi-final in electric fashion and Poulot had to use every ounce of his skill to avoid a winning score. In this early barrage, Nomura managed to score a yuko with a drop Seoi-nage, and that proved decisive. The Japanese reigning champion began tiring towards the end as Poulot's greater stamina became evident. The World champion piled on the pressure and forced a shido from Nomura but it was not quite enough. Nomura admitted to being just as nervous as he was in his first Olympics but said this time winning felt different. "This time it feels even better than the last time," he said. "I have just achieved my biggest goal so now I would like to take a break before thinking about the future."