“I remember two competitions that left indelible impressions in my sporting life: the 26th Summer Olympic Games and the 2007 World Judo Championships,” said four-time world judo champion Kye Sun Hui.
She confronted Japan’s Tamura Yoko who had achieved brilliant results in dozens of international events in the final match of the women’s judo 48kg category of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, the US.
The result of the match between the international debutant and the veteran judoist with extensive international experience seemed to be too obvious even before it started. However, the match ended with Kye overpowering the Japanese rival.
Later, she continued to snatch many medals on the international front. At the 2001 World Judo Championships in Germany, she defeated all the opponents and triumphed in the 52kg category.
Her dominance became recognized as unbreakable for her consecutive wins at the world championships in 2003 and 2005.
She was married at that time.
“There are many examples of women who became world champions after they got married in the history of sports,” she thought, and decided to challenge.
Her sporting career continued for six years after her marriage.
Her victory in the 2007 World Championships splendidly decorated her swansong.
During her professional career she broke the precedent in the judo world to win the world titles in three, 48, 52 and 57kg, events.
She was named to the Hall of Fame in 2018 by the World Judo Federation in recognition of her achievements, and her photo is hanging alongside those of world-famous sportspeople in the Olympic stadium in Switzerland.
Having qualified as a Class-B international referee in 2014, she is now working as judo head coach at the Moranbong Sports Club.
Her husband is also women’s judo head coach at a prominent sports club in the country.
The affectionate and happy “judo couple” turn into the most formidable “foes” and rivals to each other during the judo season.
They have a cute four-year-old daughter.
“People call me a successful sportswoman, but I still have a mountain to climb. I have to qualify as a Class-A international referee while fulfilling my duty as a mother and wife. I think I’ve just started my life,” said Kye Sun Hui, Kim Il Sung Prize winner, Labour Hero and People’s Athlete.