Sport Week: Welcome to judo

Judo is the only martial art on the Paralympic programme 20 Apr 2020
female judoka Lenia Ruvalcaba
Mexican Lenia Ruvalcaba celebrates her victory in the Rio 2016 Paralympics final
ⒸGetty Images

Paralympic judo follows the same rules as olympic judo, with the difference that judokas shall start and remain during the combat holding each other’s suits.

Only athletes with vision impairment are eligible to compete, with all the sight classes (B1, B2 and B3) competing together and divided according to the judokas’ weight.

Combats last five minutes for men and four for women. The aim is to either gain more points than the rival by skillful attacks or score the “ippon” by throwing the opponent with their back on the ground, immobilising them or forcing a submission.

male judoka Chris Skelley wrestles with another fighter
Ⓒ Mike Varey

Judo made its Paralympic debut at Seoul 1988 and has been contested at every Games since. Women’s events were added at Athens 2004. The sport is the only martial art on the programme.

Athletes compete in a series of tournaments along the year, including World Cups and world and regional Championships.

Judo is governed by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA).

A bit of history…

Judo became the first sport of Asian origin to be included in the Paralympic Games when it was introduced at Seoul 1988, with six men events being contested. Great Britain’s Simon Jackson (-60kg) won the first Paralympic gold medal in history.

Japan dominated the Barcelona 1992 judo competition by winning three golds, while Jackson retained the Paralympic title. The British judoka won his third and last gold medal at Atlanta 1996, where Brazil’s Antonio Tenorio secured the first of his four successive Paralympic titles.

Yanping Yuan (blue) of China with Alimova Khayitjon of Uzbekistan during the Women +70 kg Judo Gold Medal match on Day 3 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
Ⓒ Getty Images

Cuba burst onto the judo scene at Sydney 2000, claiming two golds. Sergio Arturo Perez won the -60kg category, while teammate Rafael Cruz Alonso sealed the men’s -81kg title.

Six women’s events were added to the programme at Athens 2004, being France’s Karima Medjeded (-48kg) the first female judoka to win a Paralympic gold medal.

Japan tops the all-time medal table, with 12 golds, six silver and six bronze.