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Last Saturday a 5'5", 132-pound ball of aggression named Tadahiro Nomura (inset) became the first three-time Olympic judo champion--yet was overshadowed by a Japanese teammate. Nomura, 29, needed only nine minutes of a potential 25 to storm to gold, winning three of his five matches in a combined 90 seconds en route to the final.

Even though Nomura had made history and won Japan's 100th Olympic gold medal ever, the second career gold and fourth overall medal earned by Ryoko Tani made bigger news back home. Tani, 28, is her nation's darling, a 106-pound windup toy who's nicknamed Yawara-chan after a comic-book doppelgänger who is a judoka. Ryoko also is married to Yoshitomo Tani, an outfielder for the Orix BlueWave, Ichiro Suzuki's old team; their December 2003 wedding was nationally televised.