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GWANGJU – The judo competition wrapped up on Wednesday night, with Japan and Korea sweeping the gold and silver medals in the men’s and women’s team events. 

As a sport, the scoring is relatively simple; competitors must be able to throw their opponent onto the mat, and pin them for 25 seconds, to score one full point.  While force is necessary to get an opponent down, tactics and skill to ensure balance are just as important.

Sportsmanship in judo is also a crucial element to every match; judges and athletes bow and shake hands at the commencement and conclusion of each bout.  Those on the mat must use patience to be able to put the other into a hold that can earn them points.  If an ippon, the perfect score, is achieved, the match is declared over immediately.

The hotly contested finals and semi-finals meant there was a crowd on edge for every throw and grab.  Korea were again highly spurred on by the local crowd as replays were highly scrutinised by a large panel of judges.  Japan and Korea’s medal winning performances were heartily applauded by the crowd, where both nations battled for the gold in the men’s and women’s events.

What ensued was a true emphasis of team spirit, neither team giving an inch.  Nicholas Messner, of the International Judo Federation, proclaimed that the sport continued to grow in spreading a message of peace when speaking to the FISU Young Reporters on Wednesday morning.  On the mat, the rivalry lasts for four minutes.  Then it is all over as both players bow and leave the podium.

Ringside, the action is even more intense.  The judo competitors are almost under your nose, creating an atmosphere that is almost serene.  Other than the grunts and the words of the referee, everything else in the centre is silent.  

The emotion from the Korean and Japanese judo athletes was evident; they went in hard and wanted the victory.


Davis Harrigan (AUS), FISU Young Reporter