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Judo gold medalist Koga dies at 53

Koga had received cancer treatment, sources familiar with the judoka said. (AFP)
Koga had received cancer treatment, sources familiar with the judoka said. (AFP)
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24 Mar 2021 04:03:35 GMT9
24 Mar 2021 04:03:35 GMT9

TOKYO: Toshihiko Koga, the Japanese gold medalist in the men’s 71-kilogram judo competition at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, has died of a disease, it was learned Wednesday. He was 53.

Koga, who served as captain of the Japanese Olympic delegation for the 1992 games, clinched the gold medal despite the injury he suffered on his left knee just before the quadrennial sporting event.

The native of Saga Prefecture, southwestern Japan, won the silver medal in the men’s 78-kilogram judo competition at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

In 1990, he made the final of the All-Japan Judo Championships, an open-weight tournament held annually, by beating bigger players. He lost to Naoya Ogawa in the final.

Koga, also a three-time World Judo Championships winner, retired from competitive judo in 2000.

After the retirement, he became a coach of the Japanese women’s national team for judo and opened a “dojo” training gym to nurture young judo players.

Koga also served as general manager of women’s judo team at International Pacific University.

At the time of the 2004 Athens Olympics, an emotional scene in which Ayumi Tanimoto, after winning the gold medal in the women’s 63-kilogram judo competition, embraced Koga, her coach, as she expressed her joy was widely televised.

Koga had received cancer treatment, sources familiar with the judoka said.

At a press conference Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s top government spokesman, said that Koga “embodied a judo principle that soft and fair goes far.” The judoka was “really young and it is very regrettable,” Kato added.

JIJI Press

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