In the under 60 kg category, Japanese judoka Tadahiro Nomura is a total terror of the tatamis as well as being a legend in his own lifetime. Tadahiro comes from a family of champions, as his uncle, Toyokazu Nomura, was himself an Olympic champion in 1972 in Munich, and his father coached the 1984 gold medallist Shinji Hosokaw.
For his first Olympic Games in 1996 in Atlanta, Tadahiro made a remarkable entry onto the world stage by becoming an Olympic champion at his first attempt, aged 21. He added artistry in the way he achieved this, by winning four or his five bouts with an ippon, including the final.
After adding wins at the major competitions to his list of achievements, Tadahiro was a favourite at the Olympic Games in Sydney.The under 60 kg competition was held on the first day of the judo events. After four wins in four bouts, he faced the Asian champion, South Korea’s Bu-Kyung Jung, in the final. The atmosphere was incredible for the Japanese supporters, coming only a few minutes after the victory of Tadahiro’s compatriot, Ryoko Tamura. Fourteen seconds of combat were sufficient for Tadahiro Nomura to perform an ippon and pocket his second consecutive Olympic title.
After this gold medal, Tadahiro put his sports career on hold for two years, but his passion for judo got the better of him. He returned to the dojos in 2003 and qualified for the Games the following year. In the final at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, the Japanese judoka was up against Georgia’s Nestor Khergiani. Tadahiro very quickly gained the upper hand in the scoring with a yuko. He then defended his lead on the scoreboard. With this additional victory, he won the Olympic title for the third time in a row, going down in judo history as the first man to achieve this.