One became Minister of Sports, the other TV celeb, the final of the Sydney Olympic Games between David Douillet of France and Shinichi Shinohara was a legendary and controversial match. Exactly 20 years later JudoInside looks back to that day at 22 September 2000, drawn up by Barnaby Chesterman on behalf of The World of Judo Magazine.
The final day of competition at the 2000 Sydney Olympic tournament sparkled with the perfect send off for a great champion, but also produced the greatest controverts yet. David Douillet of France broke the great Yasuhiro Yamashita's record for international tournament victories by retaining his Olympic title to add to his four World titles.
The Japanese, in particular head coach Yamashita, were livid with the outcome and complained fiercely that the result should have been an ippon victory for Shinohara. The dispute happened after one minute and forty seconds of the contest. Douillet attacked Shinohara with Uchi-mata and as Shinohara stepped over the Frenchman's leg, Douillet somersaulted onto his back and Shinohara fell on his side. The referee gave a Yuko to Douillet while one judge indicated an Ippon for Shinohara. The other judge didn't flinch so the score went Douillet's way. The Frenchman, who has long since announced this would be his swansong in competitive Judo, went on to record another Yuko which proved enough to beat Shinohara and become the second man to retain an Olympic title at these Games and spark wild celebrations from a passionate French following.
It was a great turnaround for Douillet who has missed most of the last three years of competition with a back injury. He was only fighting in his third competition since the 1997 World championships. Few people knew what to expect from him after such a long break with injuries, but he proved he had lost none of his ability. After a first round bye, he faced a tough opener against Selim Tataroglu of Turkey, a double medallist from last year's World championship. Douillet proved he was still the master by throwing the giant Turk for Ippon with Ouchi-gari. Next up he faced another seasoned veteran but was too canny for Harry Van Barneveld who was wound up to Hansoku-make. World silver medallist Indrek Pertelson was also thrown for Ippon to set up the dream final against Shinohara, a repeat of their 1997 World championship final.
"I've come back a long way these last three years," said Douillet. "I have mixed emotions about today. Obviously I am happy because I won the gold medal. But I am also sad because I have had to turn this page in the book. This chapter has taken up half my life and now it has come to an end." During the press conference Douillet was called on his mobile phone by both the French president, Jaques Chirac, and the prime minister, Lionel Jospin. Douillet joked around saying the president was getting confused between Judo and Sumo wrestling before saying that all of France was moved by his victory.
But while Douillet felt on top of the world, Shinohara was inconsolable and cried throughout the medal ceremony. Yamashita was adament that his fighter had won the contest. "This was a big mistake," he said. "Shinohara scored a perfect Ippon with Uchi-mata-sukeshi (counter to an innner thigh throw) and the fight has clearly been misjudged." In Japan the Sukeshi technique is considered to be the most difficult and admirable to execute. Yamashita, who was never beaten during his competitive career, was so upset because the Japanese thought that Shinohara had won in such magnificent style but that he was denied by poor officiating.
The women's heavyweight final was a tactical affair between the Chinese World silver medallist, Hua Yuan, and the Cuban double Open-weight World champion, Daima Beltran. Both fighters had dominated their pools on the way to the final and looked a class apart from the competition. They struggled in vain to turn each other onto their backs but could only manage a few knockdowns that didn't score. Yuan was the more positive and her superior fitness and speed ensured she was usually first to the attack. Although they were both penalised for passivity towards the end of the bout, the result was rarely in doubt and Yuan won a unanimous judges' decision.
The World champion, Beata Maksymow of Poland suffered a shock second round defeat to the American, Colleen Rosensteel in a rare upset in the women's division. The American then lost in the next round, so the World champion didn't even get a lifeline in the repechage. The two bronze medal fights were Asia-Europe contests in which both Asians came out on top. Mayumi Yamashita of Japan, no relation to the coach, and Seon Young Kim of South Korea took their places on the podium. Meanwhile the men's bronze medals were claimed by two Europeans, Tamerlan Tmenov of Russia and Indrek Pertelson of Estonia. Tmenov had been fantastic all day, throwing top fighters for Ippon on his way to a semi-final against Shinohara. The Russian led for most of the bout but with a minute remaining the big Japanese caught him with a big Osoto-gari for Ippon, so he had to settle for a fight for bronze. Pertelson said afterwards that he had come here for gold, so naturally he was disappointed at finishing with just a bronze. But he paid tribute to Douillet for his victory. "Today was David Douillet's day. He was excellent and to come back like that is amazing," he said.