Ryoko Tani

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Ryoko Tani
Medal record
Women's Judo
Competitor for  Japan
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2000 Sydney - 48kg
Gold medal – first place 2004 Athens - 48kg
Silver medal – second place 1992 Barcelona - 48kg
Silver medal – second place 1996 Atlanta - 48kg
Bronze medal – third place 2008 Beijing - 48kg
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2007 Rio de Janeiro -48 kg
Gold medal – first place 2003 Osaka -48 kg
Gold medal – first place 2001 Munich -48 kg
Gold medal – first place 1999 Birmingham -48 kg
Gold medal – first place 1997 Paris -48 kg
Gold medal – first place 1995 Chiba -48 kg
Gold medal – first place 1993 Hamilton -48 kg
Bronze medal – third place 1991 Barcelona -48 kg
Asian Games
Gold medal – first place 1994 Hiroshima -48 kg
Asian Championships
Bronze medal – third place 1991 Osaka -48 kg
Gold medal – first place 1995 Fukuoka -48 kg

Ryoko Tani (谷 亮子 Tani Ryōko?, née Tamura (田村?), born September 6, 1975 in Fukuoka, Fukuoka) is a Japanese female former judoka and current (2012) politician.

She used to work for Toyota Motor Corporation.


She is commonly known as 'Yawara-chan'or 'Tawara' (from the title character of Yawara!, a popular judo manga). Since she won the International Women's Judo Championships in 1990, 'Yawara-chan' has gone on to win the event every year.[citation needed] She has a record seven world titles and she brought home the 48 kg-category gold medal from Sydney Olympics in 2000 and the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Her 84-match winning streak was finally broken in 1996 by North Korea's Kye Sun Hui. She holds a fourth dan.

In 2003, she married Yoshitomo Tani, an Olympian and professional baseball player then with the Orix Blue Wave (now with the Yomiuri Giants). The wedding reception reportedly cost $3 million.[1]

In Beijing in 2008 Tani, who had not been beaten in a major international competition since the Atlanta Games in 1996, saw her hopes of a third-straight gold evaporate when judges awarded penalty points to Romania's Alina Dumitru after both competitors failed to show much aggression. Looking stunned, Tani fought desperately after the final controversial penalty call, but with only seconds left she had no time to mount an attack.[2]

She defeated Russia's Lyudmila Bogdanova for bronze. She gained her fifth Olympic medal with the bronze.

Along with Cuba's Driulys González and Australia's Mária Pekli, Tani became in 2008 the first female judoka to compete at five Olympics. The only other judokas to compete at five Olympics are Belgian Robert Van de Walle and Puerto Rican judoka-bobsledder Jorge Bonnet.

Popularity and selection controversy[edit]

Tani has been very popular in Japan. The characters of Ryoko Izumo and Ryoko Kano from the World Heroes and Fighter's History fighting video games series, respectively, are both loosely based on her.[citation needed] Also, the birth of her first child, Yoshiaki, was a major press event with camera crews waiting for the first glimpse of her emergence from the hospital.[citation needed]

Tani lost the 2007 All-Japan Weight Class Judo Championship, which doubles as the qualifier for Olympics and the World Championships on those years when the events take place, but was selected as Japan's representative anyway by the All Japan Judo Federation (AJJF). She then won the gold medal in the Rio de Janeiro World Championships. Tani lost the All-Japan again in April 2008, to 21-year-old Emi Yamagishi. Again, the AJJF selected Tani for Japan's team in place of Yamagishi. The AJJF refused to answer questions about Tani's selection after the decision, but later said that Tani was selected because "She is especially strong against international opponents". The selection prompted Philip Brasor, media commentator for the Japan Times to ask "...maybe Tani is the better choice, but why have qualifying bouts in the first place?".[3] The AJFF uses qualifying bouts as only one criterion considered for selection, with performance in international events as another.

Political career[edit]

Ryoko Tani
谷 亮子
Member of the House of Councillors
Assumed office
July 26, 2010
Personal details
Born (1975-09-06) September 6, 1975 (age 40)
Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
Political party People's Life First
Spouse(s) Yoshitomo Tani (2003–present)
Children 2 sons
Alma mater Teikyo University

On May 10, 2010 the Democratic Party announced that Tani would represent the party as a proportional candidate in the Summer 2010 House of Councillors election. Tani stated that she still intended to pursue her judo career, but would like to help "build a nation everyone desires" as a member of the Upper House.[4] Tani won the seat in question.

In July 2012, she left the Democratic Party and joined the People's Life First.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by
Kumi Nakada
Flagbearer for  Japan
Atlanta 1996
Succeeded by
Kosei Inoue