TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Retired Japanese female judoka and politician Ryoko Tani has been promoted from fourth to sixth dan, accomplishing the rare feat of skipping black-belt ranks based on time in grade and service to the sport, judo officials said Monday.
According to Kodokan, the founding school and international headquarters of judo, Tani, a gold medalist in the 48-kilogram division at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics, is the first to skip promotion since the women's dan ranking system was established in 1933.
The seven-time world champion last earned promotion when she claimed victory at the world championships in 1995. She took the dan rank promotion test in her hometown in Fukuoka last November and received a recommendation from the Kyushu Judo Association.
"This promotion was a longtime dream of mine. I'm as happy as I was when I got my first-degree black belt," the 42-year-old said.
Tani competed under her maiden name Tamura until she married baseball player Yoshitomo Tani in 2003. After winning five medals in as many Olympics from 1992, she retired in 2010 and entered politics as a member of the House of Councillors.
Tani was appointed the first female member of the All Japan Judo Federation's board of directors in 2013 and served two years in the position.