David Douillet’s talent for judo emerged early and he became French junior champion aged just seven. Four years later, Douillet already stood 1.80m tall. It was clear he was developing into a formidable natural athlete.
Aged just 21, Douillet became French champion. In 1992, he competed in his first Olympic Games, earning a bronze medal in judo's heavyweight category.
At the 1996 Atlanta Games, Douillet found that his semi-final opponent was Naoya Ogawa, the same man who had defeated him in the semi-finals in Barcelona in 1992. This time, in what Douillet termed "the final before the final", he achieved a narrow victory. He went on to win the real final comfortably.
At the 2000 Sydney Games, Douillet again won the gold medal, this time with a controversial victory in the final over Shinichi Shinohara. Having also won the World Championship four times, Douillet is one of the most decorated judokas of all time. In 2001, he received the Olympic Order from Juan Antonio Samaranch, then President of the International Olympic Committee.