Song Dae-nam

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Song Dae-nam
Song daenam.jpg
Song Daenam at an event in 2012
Personal information
Born5 April 1979 (age 37)
Yongin, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
ResidenceSeoul, South Korea
EducationCheongju University
Height178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight90 kg (198 lb)
Weight classHalf-middleweight
Rank5th degree black belt in Judo
Now coachingSouth Korea Men's National Team (Head)
An Chang-rim, Lee Seung-soo, Gwak Dong-han, Wang Ki-chun
Namyangju City Hall (Head)
An Baul
Achievements and titles
Highest world ranking5 (6 October 2012)
Song Dae-nam
Medal record
Representing  South Korea
Men's Judo
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2012 London -90 kg

Song Dae-Nam (Hangul: 송대남; Korean pronunciation: [soŋ.dɛ̝.nam]; born 5 April 1979 in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do) is a former South Korean judoka.[1]

Song rose to prominence when he won the gold medal in the middleweight division at the 2012 Olympics.[2][3] He was then nominated as the flagbearer for Korea in the closing ceremony.[4] He is best known as the head coach of the South Korea Men's National Team,[5] having produced two world champions in his first year as head coach.

Song moved up a weight class from half-middleweight to middleweight in 2012 after constant defeats to teammate Kim Jae-bum and inability to qualify for the Olympics in 2008.[6][7][8]

Personal life[edit]

Song is an alumnus of Kumoh Elementary School, Kyung-min Middle School and Kyung-min High School.

Song served in the Republic of Korea Armed Forces as a sergeant, and represented them at the Military World Games in 2003, winning gold in the lightweight category.[9]

A comic book has been written about Song's win at the Olympics.[5]

Competitive career[edit]

Beginnings: 2004-2006[edit]

Song raised his weight from 73 kg to 81 kg as he transitioned to senior level. In his first international outing, he won the 2004 Rendez-vous Canada in Montreal. He then competed in the 2005 Kracup Korea Open in Jeju, and finished second.

Song's first high-level tournament was at the 2006 Jigoro Kano Cup in Tokyo, but lost to Japan's Hirotaka Kato in the final, settling for silver. He competed at the Super World Cup in Paris a month later, losing to Italy's Giuseppe Maddaloni for his third consecutive silver.[10] A week later, Song finally won at the World Cup in Vienna, beating France's Alain Schmitt. He continued his winning streak at the 2006 Kracup Korea Open, winning gold.

Failure to qualify for the Olympics: 2007-2008[edit]

When you become a winner it's important not to become complacent and when you become a loser it's important not be disappointed or frustrated.

— Song, on missing out on the Olympics

In 2007, Song participated at the Super World Cup in Paris, but lost in his first fight. He redeemed himself at his second Jigoro Kano Cup, surprisingly beating Takashi Ono in the final for gold.[11]

In 2008, just months before the Olympics, Song competed in the Super World Cup in Paris again, but set-backs began as he lost in his second fight.

Song's second tournament would be a turning point in his career, as he lost to local half-lightweight number one and eventual 2008 Olympic silver medalist Kim Jae-bum at the Korea National Qualifiers in the finals by shido in golden score.[8]

Post-Olympics, Song won two consecutive competitions, the International Judo Cup in Dubrovnik and Megion International Judo Tournament.

Continued losses in the half-middleweight: 2009-2010[edit]

Song won his first Grand Slam in Paris, where he met long-time rival and teammate Kim in the final. He won the gold due to Kim's injury that led to a concession.[7] He next participated at the Grand Slam in Moscow, where he participated in ippon judo in his first two fights. He lost by ippon to Belarus' Aliaksandr Stsiashenka in the semi-final, finishing fifth.[12] Song redeemed himself at the World Cup in Ulaanbaatar, where he won the tournament. He beat Mongolia's Dashdavaa Gantumur in just 21 seconds by ippon in the final.

In 2010, Song competed in his first Masters at home ground in Suwon, but failed to medal, losing his second fight to Russia's Sirazhudin Magomedov by ippon. His losses continued to mount in the high level competitions, as he finished seventh at the Grand Slam in Paris, failing to defend his title. At the Grand Prix in Düsseldorf, Song again failed to medal, losing to prime rival Kim by waza-ari in golden score, after nearly eight minutes, in the semi-final. He remained on the losing end with his rivalry with Kim, losing in the final by ippon at the World Cup in Prague.[13][14] Song won another silver medal at the Grand Slam in Moscow, losing to Russia's Ivan Nifontov with harai goshi by ippon in the final.[15]

Song next participated in his first World Championships in Tokyo, which was his last competition as a half-middleweight. He was 31-years-old by then. He lost in his third fight to France's Loïc Pietri by waza-ari and ippon.

Transition to middleweight: 2011-2012[edit]

Song moved up a weight class in 2011, returning to the Grand Slam in Moscow as a middleweight. Unfortunately, his losses carried over to his new weight division, losing in his second fight to Argentina's Héctor Campos by ippon and yuko.

In his second World Championships, he again crashed out early, losing to Brazil's Tiago Camilo narrowly by yuko in golden score.[16]

Song eventually won at the World Cup in Ulaanbaatar, defeating Russia's Kirill Voprosov in the final by ippon. He then lost in the semi-final at the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi to rising Georgian star Varlam Liparteliani by ippon in just 47 seconds.[17]

Song managed to redeem himself at the World Cup in Suwon, winning all his fights by ippon, making the tournament his best in terms of performance.

At the Grand Slam in Tokyo, Song faced Voprosov in a revenge match in the quarter-final. He lost by ippon, finishing seventh place. His medal-less streak continued at the Grand Prix in Qingdao, narrowly losing to Mongolia's Enkhbat Erdenebileg by two yukos in the round of sixteen.

In 2012, Song continued to crash out early in tournaments just five months before the Olympics. He lost in the quarter-final of the Grand Slam in Paris to Ukraine's Roman Guntiuk by ippon. At the last tournament before the Olympics, Song came close to clinching a title, however narrowly lost by yuko to Liparteliani in the final.

En route to the final, Song beat former world champion Lee Kyu-won in the semi-final by ippon and outranked him in the Olympic qualifiers rankings, allowing Song to represent Korea in the middleweight division at the Olympics.

Breakthrough and retirement from Judo: 2012 Olympics[edit]

"I think all the athletes competing in the Olympic Games are equally capable of winning a gold medal and thanks to a lot of preparations I believe I was able to win." - Song on being an outsider for an Olympic medal, yet becoming the surprise champion

Six months before the Olympics, Song ranked number 25 in the world rankings.[18] In May, he advanced to number 17, and entered the Olympics with this rank. He was seeded number 11.[19]

Song's main skill was seoi nage, and used it to win en-course to the final. He was a complete surprise, reaching the final, and was set to face world number seven Asley González, who was ten years younger than him. He defeated Gonzalez in golden score with an unorthodox kouchi gari.[20][21]

Song became the oldest Olympic gold medalist in judo, at age 33.[5] He was one of the two South Korean Olympic champions at the tournament, with the other ironically being his old-time rival, Kim.[22]

After the Olympics, Song ranked number five in the world, the highest in his career.[23] He retired after the Olympics.

Coaching career[edit]

"Don't be envious...Get the attention of all the cameras at the end of the Olympic Games." - Cho Jun-ho, assistant coach of the women's national team, on Song's best advice

Song returned to the South Korea National Team as a coach for the men's lightweight, half-middleweight and middleweight.

He has been promoted to head coach of the men's national team. His assistant coach is Olympic and world champion Choi Min-ho, who specializes in the extra and half-lightweights, and heavyweights.[5][24][25]

He has a reputation as "good-looking", a "hulk", and a "tiger" at the Taeneung Athlete's Village. He is a strict coach who is much respected by his students.[26]

Under Song, Korea has produced two world champions with An Baul and Gwak Dong-han, and bronze medalists Kim Won-jin and An Chang-rim.[27][28][29][30]

Gwak was Song's training partner at the 2012 Olympics.[31]

Competitive record[edit]

Judo Record[32]
Total 65
Wins 51
by Ippon 28
Losses 14
by Ippon 10

(does not include local tournaments and qualifiers)


  1. ^ "Profile". London 2012 Official Site. 1 August 2012. Archived from the original on 6 December 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  2. ^ "Olympics Judo: Dae-Nam Song wins 90kg gold for South Korea". BBC Sport. 1 August 2012. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Song Dae-nam wins men's 90K Olympic judo gold". Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  4. ^ "Closing Ceremony Flagbearers" (PDF). Olympics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d "Cool Kiz on The Block: Training with Song Daenam and Choi Minho".
  6. ^ "Grand Prix Dusseldorf 2010: Song vs Kim".
  7. ^ a b "Tournois de Paris 2009: Song vs Kim".
  8. ^ a b "2008 Olympic Qualifier Korea: Song vs Kim".
  10. ^ "JudoInside - Video - Giuseppe MADDALONI (ITA) - Dae-Nam SONG (KOR) @ Super World Cup Tournoi de Paris 2006". Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  11. ^ "JUDO 2007 Jigoro Kano Cup: Dae-Nam Song (KOR) - Takashi Ono (JPN)".
  12. ^ "JudoInside - Video - Dae-Nam SONG (KOR) - Aliaksandr STSIASHENKA (BLR) @ IJF Grand Slam Moscow 2009". Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  13. ^ "2010 Prague World Cup Jae-Bum Kim (KOR) vs Dae-Nam Song (KOR)".
  14. ^ "JudoInside - Video - Jae-Bum KIM (KOR) - Dae-Nam SONG (KOR) @ U81 Final - World Cup Prague 2010". Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Final -81kg Moscow GS 2010 Dae-nam Song(KOR) vs Ivan Nifontov(RUS)".
  16. ^ "JUDO 2011 World Championships: Dae-Nam Song 송대남 (KOR) - Tiago Camilo (BRA)".
  17. ^ "JudoInside - Video - Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) - Dae-Nam SONG (KOR) @ Grand Prix Düsseldorf 2012". Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  18. ^ "IJF World Rankings: January 17 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 September 2012.
  19. ^ "Gold for 11th seed Song - London 2012 - Judo - Olympic News". Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Judo Men -90 kg Final - Gold Medal - Gonzalez v Song - London 2012 Olympic Games Highlights".
  21. ^ "JudoInside - Video - Final by mobile device". Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  22. ^ "Olympics Judo: Dae-Nam Song wins 90kg gold for South Korea".
  23. ^ "IJF World Rankings: 6 October 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 February 2016.
  24. ^ "Judo Grand-Slam Paris 2016: Day 2 - Final Block".
  25. ^ "Judo Grand-Slam Paris 2016: Day 2".
  26. ^ "Cool Kiz on the Block | 우리동네 예체능 - The 2016 All-star Competition (2016.02.16)".
  27. ^ "Japan vs South Korea World Judo Team Championships 2015 - Astana".
  28. ^ "Dong Han Gwak vs Kirill Denisov World Judo Championships 2015 - Astana".
  29. ^ "Judo 73 KG Ganbaatar (MGL) vs An (KOR) Bronze medal, Astana 2015".
  30. ^ "Judokas set their sights on Olympic gold". Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  31. ^ ""'Three brave friends' set sights on picking up gold together in Brazil"".
  32. ^ "Song Daenam: Statistics".