Two Tenri Judokas Win Medals at the Olympics

In the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, which took place from September 11 to October 1, two graduates of Tenri University competed in judo. Tadahiro Nomura, who won the gold medal at the last Olympics in Atlanta, secured another gold in the under-60 kg class on September 16. Shin’ichi Shinohara, a first time Olympian, captured the silver in the over- 100 kg class on September 22.

Tadahiro Nomura won four out of five preliminary bouts by ippon. He needed only 14 seconds to topple his opponent, South Korea’s Jung Bu Kyung, in the missed-it-if-you-blinked final. Nomura is the second judoka to win the gold in the Olympic Games twice in a row, and it was the fifth time a Tenri judoka won an Olympic gold medal. Nomura was a senior at Tenri University when he won the first gold four years ago. He also won the world championship the very next year, but after that he was injured and lost his enthusiasm for judo. He could not even win competitions in Japan. When he failed to qualify for the World Judo Championships held in October 1999 in Birmingham, England, he started to put his heart into judo again. Setting his sights on the Sydney Olympics, he practiced hard to qualify for the Games.

Shin’ichi Shinohara, who won the world championship last year and is the three-time all-Japan champion, advanced to the final without any problem and competed with David Douillet, a Frenchman who won the gold in the over-95 kg class in Atlanta. One minute and 45 seconds into the bout, Douillet attempted an uchimata leg throw, which Shinohara appeared to counter with his own throw, sending Douillet somersaulting over his shoulders. It seemed that Shinohara had won by ippon, but the judge signaled a yuko point for Douillet instead. Although Shinohara counterattacked him to get some points, Douillet gained another yuko with 38 seconds remaining. Shinohara ended up losing the controversial match and was awarded the silver.

Both Nomura and Shinohara came back to Jiba on the evening of September 26. A celebration ceremony was held at Tenri Station, which was filled with many fans and Tenri University graduates and personnel. Taketo Hashimoto, president of Tenri University, said, “It was very pleasing to see the spirit of Tenri judo shown by these two athletes in the top competition in the world.” Shinohara replied: “I am happy and proud to have had support from so many people. Despite aiming for the gold, I ended up with the silver this time. Keeping this trying experience in mind, I would like to try hard for the next.” Nomura said: “I am very happy to bring another gold medal to Tenri, where I learned judo from junior high school through college. Keeping the spirit of Tenri judo in mind, I am going to continue to be the best in the world in my class.”

A parade was held between Tenri Station and the Main Sanctuary. After the parade, Nomura and Shinohara entered the Main Sanctuary to worship and then visited the former Shinbashira, who is head of Tenri Judo Association, with Tenri University Judo Team Coach Shinji Hosokawa, who served as a coach for Japan’s Olympic judo team. The former Shinbashira praised both athletes for their achievements.

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