Judo king Suzuki loses in 100kg first round

AFP
Aug 14, 2008 at 04:43pm IST

Beijing: Former Olympic and world judo champion Keiji Suzuki said he felt "empty" and was considering his future in the sport after suffering a humiliating -100kg first round defeat at the Beijing Games on Thursday.

"I didn't do what I wanted to. I couldn't use any of my techniques. I have nothing left," a tearful Suzuki said after he was defeated by Mongolia's Naidan Tuvshinbayar with a tackle throw (morote-gari).

"If I step onto the tatami again, I may probably be thrown again. I'm really empty now," he said.

TOUGH MATCH: Mongolia's Tuvshinbayar Naidan (L) and Japan's Keiji Suzuki fight during their judo 100kg half heavyweight division.

Suzuki, 29, who stepped up to +100kg in Athens to claim a sensational gold medal, was back fighting at his preferred -100kg, the weight at which he won the world title in 2005.

He also has the 2003 world open-weight title to his name as he has been shuffled around different categories due to the depth of heavyweight talent at home. No open-class title is fought in the Olympics.

Suzuki was given a second chance for a bronze medal in the repechage round of losers to the eventual semi-finalists. But he again was floored by German Benjamin Behrla with a shoulder wheel.

"I'll go home and closely look back at myself and what I have been doing. That's what I would do first," said the crew-cut judoka who had targeted the Beijing Games as the "culmination" of his career.

"If I feel like doing it again, I may start with running or something like that. But for now I am empty."

Suzuki has not won any tournament abroad since the 2005 World Championships in Cairo.

He said he had already lost to Behrla in previous competitions by the same throw but that he had not learned his lesson.

"I could see he was trying to tackle me on the inside from the very beginning and I intended to stop him from tackling me," he said.

"Having said that, I think it's fool who is thrown down again."

Suzuki is the captain of the entire Japanese Olympic delegation, an honour which was given to his former rival Kosei Inoue at the 2004 Athens Games.

Inoue, the 2000 Sydney Games -100kg champion, was bundled out of the pool round in Athens. He retired this year after failing to shine again on the world stage and losing in the Japanese national trials.

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