Iliadis delights in historic gold

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The distinctive melody of "Zorba the Greek" rang round the Ano Liossia stadium yesterday as Greece celebrated its first ever judo Olympic gold medal. They were dancing on the seats as they celebrated a remarkable fairy story for Ilias Iliadis. Though the European light-middleweight champion is just 17 and still technically a junior, he beat the men at their own game.

The distinctive melody of "Zorba the Greek" rang round the Ano Liossia stadium yesterday as Greece celebrated its first ever judo Olympic gold medal. They were dancing on the seats as they celebrated a remarkable fairy story for Ilias Iliadis. Though the European light-middleweight champion is just 17 and still technically a junior, he beat the men at their own game.

And he did it in style, throwing all five opponents dramatically and none more so than in the final against Ukraine's Roman Gontyuk - to etch his name into the record books.

Earlier, Japan took its fourth gold medal of the Games through Ayumi Tanimoto, who displayed classical judo techniques throughout the women's light-middleweight category.

Yet it was disappointment again for the British team as Sarah Clark did not manage a win. She lost in the first round to the eventual silver medallist, Claudia Heill of Austria who was never tipped for such honours. Clark, from the Edinburgh Judo Club, had begun well, using her fast feet to stumble Heill to the ground for a koka (three point) score, and then went further ahead when the Austrian received a penalty for a technical infringement.

But after that, Heill assumed command. She moved Clark sideways and, niftily, swept her feet from beneath her for ippon, judo's knock-out score. In the repêchage, Clark was again outclassed, this time by a 17-year-old talented American, Ronda Rousey, who threw and held her for 25 seconds to win the bout.

This remarkable day of judo will be remembered as a time of transition - the passing of some great champions, and the arrival of new ones. Out went Druilis Gonzalez, of Cuba, past world and Olympic champion. Out went Gella Vandecaveye, of Belgium, a past world champion, and Daniela Krukower, of Argentina, the current world champion.

And in came Ayumi Tanimoto and especially Ilias Iliadis, a Greek hero, much needed,in the midst of the current sprinters' scandal.

Comments