(updates with quotes, details)
By Michael Holden
LONDON Aug 1 South Korean Song Dae-nam almost
quit judo four years ago but his decision to give the Olympic
Games one last shot in London paid off handsomely on Wednesday
when he won a surprise gold medal.
Song, ranked 17th in the world, had not been expected to
challenge for gold but he upset Cuban Asley Gonzalez in the
final of the men's -90kg category, his winning waza-ari throw
coming in the golden score extra time period.
The 33-year-old Korean said it had taken more than 20 years
to achieve his dream of winning Olympic gold when he took up the
sport as a 12-year-old.
"I was about to retire four years ago but I pushed back that
decision," said Song, who added he would now quit the sport to
coach young judokas.
Despite his age and lack of previous major competition
titles, Song said he had never lost hope.
"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."
Asked about being an outsider for the title, he said: "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."
His title is the second judo gold medal for the South
Koreans at the London Games.
Japan's Masashi Nishiyama took bronze with a win over
Russia's Kirill Denisov, who had earlier put out Greek favourite
Ilias Iliadis, but it still leaves the Japanese men chasing
their first judo gold in London.
Iliadis, a gold medallist in Athens in 2004, beat Brazil's
experienced Tiago Camilo for the other bronze.
(editing by Peter Rutherford)