Between now and next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio we will be focusing on the different sports and Team GB athletes to keep an eye out for. The latest Olympic Spotlight sees us concentrate on judo.
WHERE: Carioca Arena 2
WHEN: August 6-12
MEDAL EVENTS: 14 (men’s -60kg, -66kg, -73kg, -81kg, -90kg, -100kg, +100kg; women’s -48kg, -52kg, -57kg, -63kg, -70kg, -78kg, +78kg)
DID YOU KNOW:
Judo means ‘gentle way’ in Japanese and the martial art was created by university lecturer Jigoro Kano in 1882, when he studied the techniques of jiu-jitsu and eliminated the most dangerous.
ABOUT THE SPORT:
The objective of judo is to either throw or takedown an opponent to the ground, immobilise or otherwise subdue an opponent with a pin for 20 seconds, or force a submission.
Judo was first contested at an Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 and after not being included at the 1968 Games, it has been an Olympic sport in each Olympiad since.
Only male judoka competed until the 1988 Games in Seoul, when women first participated as a demonstration sport.
From Barcelona 1992 onwards female judoka have also been awarded medals with competitors now competing in one of seven weight classes per gender.
Judoka compete in weight classes with each country qualifying a maximum of 14 athletes – one per weight class.
Rio 2016 will see 386 judoka in action with host nation Brazil being reserved a spot in each of the 14 events, 20 further places made available to countries through a Tripartite Commission Invitation and the remaining athletes qualifying though the world ranking list.
The world ranking list began on May 30, 2014 and ended two years later on the same date with the top 22 men and 14 women in each division qualifying directly.
Team GB qualified seven judo places in Rio with the septet of Nekoda Smythe-Davis (women’s -57kg), Alice Schlesinger (women’s -63kg), Sally Conway (women’s -70kg), Natalie Powell (women’s -78kg), Ashley McKenzie (men’s -60kg), Colin Oates (men’s -66kg) and Benjamin Fletcher (men’s -100kg) being named for the Games earlier this month.
DID YOU KNOW:
Ricardo Blas Jr from Guam, nicknamed ‘Little Mountain’, became the heaviest athlete to compete at any modern Olympic Games when he took part in judo at London 2012 weighing 218kg.
TEAM GB SUCCESS:
Team GB have won a mammoth 18 judo medals at the Olympic Games but are still looking for a first gold, meaning they lie 31st in the all-time medal table.
Munich 1972 saw Team GB’s first judo medals as David Starbrook took -93kg silver and Brian Jacks sealed bronze in the -80kg category.
Four years ago, unranked Gemma Gibbons beat three favourites en route to winning a memorable -78kg silver medal while Karina Bryant took +78kg bronze at the ExCel Exhibition Centre.
That took Team GB’s all-time medal haul in the sport to eight silvers and ten bronzes.
TEAM GB HOPES FOR RIO:
The seven-strong Team GB squad head to Rio confident of leaving with medals and three of that number will be making a second Olympic appearance.
Ashley McKenzie, who won Commonwealth Games gold in 2014, 2011 European Championship bronze medallist Colin Oates and Commonwealth bronze medallist Sally Conway all competed at London 2012.
Benjamin Fletcher completes the men’s line-up as he prepares to make his Olympic debut while two-time Masters medallist Natalie Powell, Baku Grand Slam champion Alice Schlesinger and multiple Grand Prix medallist Nekoda Smythe-Davis will also be competing at an Olympic Games for the first time.