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Naohisa Takato Grand Slam topscorer with eight medals in Japan

Naohisa Takato Grand Slam topscorer with eight medals in Japan

5 Dec 2023 07:10
IJF Media team by Jo Crowley and JudoInside
Tamara Kulumbegashvili - IJF

Naohisa Takato became Olympic Champion in Tokyo and meanwhile he is the candidate for the next Olympic Games, but this game isn’t played yet. Last weekend his rival Ryuju Nagayama defeated Takato in the final and Takato showed Nagayama his respect on the mat. Takato is still topscorer at the Grand Slam in Japan with five titles and eight medals in total and seven finals, not so bad.

Takato said to the IJF: “I became Olympic champion due to my character and an undying passion and love for judo and winning. I didn’t just want to not lose but to always win. I had a great deal of support from family and friends due to this passion; they could see it in me."

"The Olympic Games is only every four years though, so to win it you also need to be lucky and I was lucky! On top of that luck and my character, I envisioned myself at the Olympics and used that vision to help me prepare for the Games.

I started judo at the age of 6. I was living in the suburbs of Tokyo. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was good at judo or not but once I started competing I realised I was better than my peers. The first time I truly thought that I could win an Olympic title was when I was 18 and I was already competing in seniors. I was beating some of the best seniors and so my dreams then started to become goals.”

Do you believe the Olympic gold medal changed you?

“Winning the Games changed my life and opened many opportunities for me; it is a life-changing event. I think I was able to develop as a human being not just because of the medal but because of the pathway and processes that led me to achieving it; that is what changed me. I think it’s special in more ways than just being a champion; achieving my dream made me a better person.

I never really imagined not winning it; I was quite certain I would win. So, I can’t say how it would have affected me had I not won on that day in Tokyo. It is almost like holding the fate of Japanese judo that once you are selected, your job is to do your best, it is ingrained. I did my best.”

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