As I wrote in our last newsletter, the Olympic Games held in Tokyo in 1964 was the first Olympics held in Asia and was a special event to show Japan has recovered from WWII.
From Tokyo Olympics, Judo has been included in Olympic events.
For Japanese, it has been a great honor-Judo, one of the Japanese martial art became a medal sport! It has meant a lot. At that time it was only for male athletes and three weight classes and open category. In that Olympics, obtaining 4 gold medals was the mission for Japanese athletes, since Judo was a sport originally from Japan.
Among the classes, open category seemed most valuable. However, there was an athlete, all Japanese athletes were afraid of. The guy was Anton Geesink, who was brought up in a poor family from Utrecht, started Judo since he was in Junior High School. He has been found by a Japanese Judo coach and brought up as a Judo athelete. Three years before the Tokyo Olympics, he won a world championship in 1961, as a first foreign athlete.
He was a very tall guy but was very timid and had an inferior complex. Through Judo, gradually he grew up and became confident- this change surprised everyone around him.
He learned everything obediently, very well disciplined, no drinking or smoking, worked very hard for fitness training. The coach said, he could not offer enough compliment about Geesink.
Finally at Tokyo Olympics, he beat Akio Kaminaga, a Japanese athlete at the final game and won a gold medal. At the moment he won, the whole place was filled with strange silence with the shock. Kaminaga was pale with the shock, he seemed to be crying.
At that moment Geesink won, some Ductch people tried to approach him for joy and were about to step on to Judo tatami mattress with their shoes on but Geesink stopped them. His action was highly appreciated as to show the spirit of Judo, start with a bow and end with a bow.
Japan lost the gold medal, but Geesing gave us the precious gift-the gift which meant a lot more. The gold medalist was not a Japanese, but it was Geesing from the Netherlands. With this fact, Judo could become a worldwide sport, not only a local sport. He won a Championship and then won a gold medal, it proved his true strength, and also he made a path for Judo to be included in Olympic events officially.
There may be another drama in the second Tokyo Olympics!