Judo team carries Japan to record-setting Olympic start

Japan Todayj -- Aug 02
Although these Olympics have been plagued by unprecedented challenges and many public setbacks for the host nation, they are already the most successful in Japan's entire sporting history when measured from the top of the medal podium.

And the gold rush by Japan's dominant judo team is the biggest reason there's plenty to celebrate in Tokyo this weekend.

Japan's 14 judo players put on the greatest collective performance in the Olympic history of their homegrown martial art during the eight-day tournament at the Budokan, claiming a record nine golds and 12 total medals from a possible 15 at the Budokan.

“Having this many gold medals is a great accomplishment for all of us,” gold medal winner Aaron Wolf said through a translator. “But all of us were trying, and not all of us succeeded. We will have motivation for the future.”

With judo leading the way, Japan has taken home 17 overall gold medals from the first eight days in Tokyo.

Japan won 16 golds at the first Tokyo Olympics in 1964 before matching that number in Athens in 2004, but the second Tokyo Games are already the home country’s most successful because its powerful judokas put a nation on their backs and carried it to success.

The judokas fell short of a 10th gold Saturday night when they lost in the final of the first Olympics mixed team competition, but the surprise ending did little to overshadow the overall achievement of this eight-day tournament.

- Japan Todayj