CROSS-TRAINING: Slugger marries thrower

PARIS, Dec 11 (AFP) - Japanese judo queen Ryoko Tamuraon Thursday fulfilled her dream of a white wedding inParis when she tied the knot with professional baseballstar Yoshitomo Tani in the French capital.
The duo, who had a civil ceremony in Japan earlierthis month, had an intimate Christian ceremony at theAmerican Church in Paris, surrounded by just theirimmediate family.
Tamura, 28, and Tani, 30, an outfielder at theJapanese Pacific League Orix BlueWave, had registeredtheir marriage at the city office in Nishinomiya, nearKobe, on December 1 after a two-and-a-half yearcourtship.
But the bride had always wanted to be married in theworld’s most romantic city, and the pair arrived at thechurch on the left bank of the Seine River in a longstretch limousine awaited by a throng of Japanese mediaand wellwishers.
Tamura said she had wanted to get married at thechurch, near the famed Eiffel Tower, as she had beentraining in the area in recent years.
When we arrived in Paris it was even more beautifulthan I remembered it with all the Christmas lights,''said Tamura. We won’t have time to visit a lot ofFrance and will have to come back.’’
Defying the chilly weather the bride wore atraditional halter neck white wedding gown encrustedwith pearls, precious stones and white roses which shedesigned herself. A diamond tiara topped off hereight-foot (2.44m) train.
She always looks great in her judo outfit but todayshe looked magnificent,'' said Tani. The music Ave Maria was played during the ceremony,which was performed by Dr. Tina Blair, and afterwardsthe pair held a reception in the chic George V hotel offthe Champs Elysees. They will honeymoon by visiting Europe with Italy ontheir programme. The newly-weds are also scheduled to celebrate theevent when they arrive back in Japan with a2.6-million-dollar reception in Tokyo on December 20. Both Tamura and Tani are chasing gold medals at nextyear's Athens Olympics. And Tamura, the Sydney Olympics bantamweight champion,who won a record-stretching sixth straight world judotitle in September, said it would be back to work nextmonth. The 146-centimeter (4ft 10in) specialist of seoinage,a classic shoulder throw, skips the prestigious women'sjudo tournament in her hometown of Fukuoka because itclashed with her wedding schedule. But she warned: From January 1 it’s going to be backto work for me and I’m going to give everything to winthat gold medal in Athens.’’
Tani, who played a key role in Japan’s success in theAsian Olympic baseball qualifying round, said that hisaim was to get selected for the national team.