Today Tokyo, the home of judo, will welcome its first Jamaican athlete in judo at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games when Ebony Drysdale-Daley bows into action.
The British-born, 26-year-old takes to the mat for the Women's 70kg Elimination Round of 32 against Barbara Timo of Portugal between 11:00 am and 2.30 pm here (9.00 pm and 12:30 am Jamaica time).
But being the first-ever Jamaican judoka to qualify for the Olympics marks a new chapter in the history books, but she hopes it won't be the last.
“Really pleased, obviously it's a pleasure and a privilege to be the first (judoka) and it's definitely not going to be the last, so it's more special, it's more important, it's something that needs to continue and it's just a surge of like a lot of emotions,” Drysdale-Daley told the Jamaica Observer.
For a lot of judokas on the World Judo Tour, receiving that golden opportunity to compete at the Olympics is always a dream, and Drysdale-Daley is no different.
It has been her dream for many years, and she couldn't hold back the emotions when the International Judo Federations announced her qualification, some time ago.
“It fills me with immense pride and gratitude. It gives me a sense of purpose. We go through this life wanting to gain value and to add value. I think this serves both and also caters to my love for all sport. It's been a career goal and a life's aspiration to become an Olympian. I want to perform well and win on the day. So a massive part of a dream came true but not the whole part, not until I compete,” she told the International Judo Federation website earlier.
The dual citizen, whose dad and both sets of grandparents are Jamaican-born, promises to “wear my flag with pride on that Olympic stage”.
And with time getting ever closer to fight time, Drysdale-Daley is focused on taking it one step at a time.
“To get past it [expectations of first fight] and then focus again and on to the next one and as anything in any competition and even though this is the Olympics, it's one fight at a time,” she told the Observer.
Of her opponent Timo, the Jamaican said the Portuguese is a contender in the category, who has got results, “so it's just one thing at a time and getting past the fight and then moving on”.
Her coach, Britain-based Fitz Davis, is confident his charge will give a good account of herself.
“It's going okay, we just done our circuit and now we just going to do technical base stuff and then be on the opponent that we are going to fight.
“The Portuguese girl [Timo], she is going to be aggressive, she's a dropper, she's a workhorse, so I think we have to start off on a high tempo and that's what I'm looking at right now, just to work on that,” Davis said.
But Drysdale-Daley is eagerly-awaiting fight time. She's done all the hard work preparing and is now trying to manage the anxiety that comes with a debut performance filled with high expectations at the biggest stage.
“I'm feeling good, weight management is fine and looking forward to it. I have that adrenaline, and of course there is that anxiousness, but that comes into it and I feel like it's important to have nerves as it means I want it and turning that nervous energy into positive energy, all the right things that you feel around competition and contests,” she ended.
For many Jamaicans watching this very unusual, behind-closed-doors Olympics, and wanting to cheer on judoka Drsydale-Daley, the sport of judo will be strange to them and most will not be au fait with what they are seeing on the mat.
Have no fear, rulesofsport.com will help you to understand and appreciate the sport of judo.
Judo is a relatively modern martial art that was developed in Japan by Professor Jigoro Kano, who was born in Kikage near Kobe on 28th October, 1860. Adapting many of the traits and techniques of the much older martial art jujitsu, which came around years earlier in 1532, Kano studied under some of the greatest practitioners of the day before developing his own school and exercises that he named judo. He began to teach the new martial art in 1882 using a 12-foot by 18-foot mat in a hall, and had a total of nine students in his first year.
Since then judo – which translates as “gentle way” – has spread from its Japanese origins to become of the most popular martial arts around the globe, with even Russian president Vladimir Putin being a keen practitioner. As a competitive sport it took a while to make waves until the All-Japan Judo Championships were inaugurated in 1930. Two years later judo made an appearance as an exhibition sport at the Olympics in Los Angeles, but it was not until Tokyo hosted the Games in 1964 that judo became an official Olympic sport for men, and Barcelona in 1992 for women.
Object of Judo
While there is a deep tradition of Eastern philosophy underpinning the martial art, as a competitive sport the aim is simply to beat your opponent, albeit with honour and grace. To win a bout a player must score more points than their opponent, with points being awarded for throws or holds, and penalties being given for various infringements.
Players & Equipment
Judo is competed on a mat – or tatami – measuring 14m x 14m, with a smaller 10m x 10m contest area marked within.
Judokas must each wear a gi, a traditional uniform originating from the kimono and other Japanese garments. The gi must be durable enough not to easily rip and the arms and legs must be no more than 5cm above the wrists and ankles when the limbs are extended. A belt must be worn which is wrapped around the jacket and tied with the traditional knot.
There are three types of scores an athlete can achieve in a judo bout. Ippon is the best in that it results in immediate victory and can be achieved by throwing an opponent in such a way as to make them land on their back. Alternative methods of scoring ippon include trapping an opponent in an armhold or stranglehold to the extent that it forces them to submit or immobilising an opponent on the floor for at least 25 seconds.
The next best score is a waza-ari, which is a half point in that the award of two waza-ari in a bout is the same as ippon, and hence the winner is declared. Waza-ari is awarded for lesser throws than those scoring ippon, and for immobilising the opponent for less than the time required to score ippon.
The third, and holding least weight, is yuko. These are awarded for short immobilising holds and some less effective throws or locks. One score of waza-ari outscores any number of yuko, while even if an athlete has one score of waza-ari and many of yuko, one score of ippon by the other athlete would supersede them all.
There are two types of penalties awarded in judo, shido – for minor rule infringements – and hansoku make – for major rule breaches, or for the accumulation of four shidos. Shido penalties are awarded for stalling tactics, prolonged periods of non-aggression, with the first penalty being a warning, the second giving a score of yuko to the opponent, the third a waza-ari and the fourth, ippon – hence the match. An award of hansoku make to an athlete automatically gives the match to the opponent, and – if for a major rules infringement rather than for four shidos – also results in expulsion from the tournament itself.
Winning the Match
Athletes, or judokas, win a match by either achieving ippon, gaining two scores of waza-ari (and hence ippon) or having accumulated more points than the opponent by the end of a bout. If the scores are identical at the end of a bout, a period of Golden Score ensues. In this overtime period, the first score of any kind wins an athlete the match. If the scores are still level at the end of this period the result is decided by Hantei, that is the majority decision of the referee and the two corner judges.