Becoming Olympic champion is not something every judoka will experience. It is extremely special.

For those in doubt, feeling there are a lot of these prizes on offer, let’s remember the event is only staged once every four years, World War ll and Covid notwithstanding. In total there have only ever been 146 individual Olympic gold medals fought for across all men’s and women’s categories, plus 5 open weight men’s medals which were contested in 1964, 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984.

Men’s categories were included from 1964 and the women’s followed in 1992.

At every world championships and Olympic Games we find our Olympic champions coaching, spectating, still competing, perhaps organising or leading as heads of federations or maybe within institutions such as the Kodokan. In Doha it has been no different.

11 Olympic champions

It was pretty amazing to bring some of them together for one memory-making moment during the 2023 World Championships for a photo and to share some stories. The 11 Olympic champions hold 12 Olympic gold medals between them and a whole kit bag full of world medals, continental titles and many more.

Thank you to all our champions for continuing to contribute to the sport we share.

From left to right:

Udo Quellmalz (GER)

1996 - Atlanta

Kenzo Nakamura (JPN)

1996 - Atlanta

Shinji Hosokawa (JPN)

1984 - Los Angeles

Arsen Galstyan - (AIN)

2012 - London

Idalys Ortiz (CUB)

2012 - London

Haruki Uemura (JPN)

1976 - Montreal

Yasuhiro Yamashita (JPN)

1984 - Los Angeles

Ilias Iliadis (GRE)

2004 - Athens

Yvonne Boenisch (GER)

2004 - Athens

Ki-Young Jeon (KOR)

1996 - Atlanta

Shohei Ono (JPN)

2016 - Rio de Janeiro

2021 - Tokyo

See also