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Japanese Tanimoto wins women's 63kg judo Olympic gold
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Japanese Tanimoto wins women's 63kg judo Olympic gold [Xinhua]

Japanese Tanimoto wins women's 63kg judo Olympic gold [Xinhua]

Ayumi Tanimoto [Xinhua]

Ayumi Tanimoto [Xinhua]

Ayumi Tanimoto of Japan stunned world top-ranked Lucie Decosse of France Tuesday evening to successfully defended her Olympic champion at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Tanimoto, 27, managed an ippon victory in the women's 63kg-class final, which added the second judo gold medal to Japan's squad.

"It is a surprise for me to enter the final and win the gold medal again," said Tanimoto who lost to the French judoka in world championships 2005, "I can't find a word to describe my feelings for the moment since I am very happy."

The Japanese judoka, world silver medalist last year, shoulder-throwed her French rival to the tatami in one minute and 26 seconds. The sudden loss made Decosse motionless when kneeling down after the referee gave the ippon gesture.

"Tanimoto and I have been regarded as the two bests in the category and she played better than me," said the silver medalist who was called "Lucie, Go, Lucie" by her supporters in the stands.

"We knew each other's skills very well and it was me who more often than not win the bout when we met in competition before, that is why I was dazed by the defeat for a while on the mat," said Decosse who is just two days younger than Tanimoto.

The defending champion, who had not won any international title after 2004, scored ippon in all four bouts she played in the competition in which Tanimoto showed off her pinning technique to win three games.

"I can't regain the title only by effort of myself," said Tanimoto who contributed the all-ippon victory to her master at Athens Games who told her that ippon is the core charm of judo and the only key to win the champion.

The Japanese coach said Tanimoto deserved the gold medal for his hard training and a steady performance in the competition.

Decosse, world silver medalist last year, ousted Olympic bronze medalist Claudia Heill of Austria in the first bout to make a clear way to the final.

"This is my last competition in 63kg category," she said, "I will upgrade to 70kg class for the next Olympic Games."

The semifinals of the half-middleweight category neally repeated those in last year's world championships with Cuba's Driulis Gonzalez and Im Won Ko from DPRK. But this time Gonzalez failed to stop Tanimoto grabbing her second Olympic gold.

The Cuban veteran, 35, who had won three Olympic medals, was golden scored with a koka in overtime by Elisabeth Willeboordse of the Netherlands in the bronze medal competition.

"After I lost the quarterfinal, I didn't want to continue to play and cried a lot," said Willeboordse, "But my coach told me not to give up and her encouragement made me continue playing."

Im Won Ko, whose world rank unavailable for rare appearence in international competition, outscored Heill to win the other bronze medal. She celebrated the medal in tears.

China's Xu Yuhua was outscored by Korean Ja-Young Kong at her Olympic debute. The 25-year-old Xu made active attack to the Korean rival, leading a yuko and a koka. But Xu performed too cautiously in the rest of the time to keep the advantage. She was penaltied for three times for being negative which surrendered a waza-ari loss.

"I'm not satisfied with my performance. During the game I was not in a good state and I put too much pressure on myself. I was only thinking about winning, not losing," Xu said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 12,  2008)

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