Judo legend Nomura weighs future options

33-year-old not ready to announce retirement

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Tadahiro Nomura is convinced he failed to have a chance to shoot for his fourth straight Olympic gold medal. But he’s not quite done yet on the tatami.

Nomura, who was left off the list of the Japanese judo athletes for this summer’s Beijing Games after losing in the semifinals of the 60-kg division in the National Weight Class Invitational Tournament in Fukuoka last Saturday, offered his heartfelt feelings regarding retirement from judo, noting it’s too early to decide on his future, he expressed in his online blog “Nomura Style” (ameblo.jp/nomuratadahiro/).

Instead of the three-time gold medalist (1996, 2000 and ’04) heading to Beijing, 23-year-old Hiroaki Hiraoka earned his first Olympic berth as the weight-class representative.

“After finishing my bouts and until the representatives (for Beijing) were announced, I was hoping to compete in such a big stage like an Olympics for one more time — it doesn’t matter whether I was chosen by my past achievements or whatever — thinking, ‘My real ability isn’t like that,’ ” Nomura wrote in his latest diary on Tuesday.

“(But) that hope didn’t come true. I have no complaints that I failed the selection because Hiraoka won it by himself with his genuine ability.”

Nomura, 33, suggested that the challenge of competing in Beijing would be his last shot, and the media concluded that he would hang up his judo gear right after he missed the cut for the Japan Olympic team.

Nomura didn’t dispute the notion retirement is an option, but said he doesn’t want to make a quick decision and that there’s a possibility his career will continue.

“I don’t deny the fact that I’m thinking about retirement,” the native of Nara Prefecture said. “But I have feelings as to whether I should end my career in this fashion.

“If I had given everything and lost, or a man that makes me feel I can’t beat this guy appears, then I would be able to determine it’s time to retire with conviction.

“But honestly speaking, I don’t feel that way yet.”

Nomura said he’s considering having surgery on his right knee (he tore a ligament last May) and then undergoing physical rehabilitation. During this time, he’ll think about his future in the sport.

“The fellow 60-kg competitors can wait and be frightened, thinking, ‘Nomura might come back.’ “