Saturday, July 26, 2008

Japanese have tight hold on judo

Once upon a time it was customary for the host nation to be able to add a sport to the Olympic program.

So when the Games were in Tokyo in 1964, judo came on board. And it is easy to see why since the Japanese usually dominate the sport.

In the 14 weight classes (seven for men and seven for women) at the Athens Olympics, Japan placed a competitor in 10 gold medal matches. The Japanese won eight of the 10.

The participants in each weight class are divided into two direct-elimination pools and the winner of the two pools meet for the gold medal.

This is also a sport where it pays to cheer for the person who beat you in an early round. All those who lose to the eventual pool champion make up two second-chance pools and the winners of those each get a bronze medal.

Judo is one of only two sports in the Olympics, boxing being the other, where two bronze medals are awarded.