Neil Adams

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameAdrian Neil•Adams
Used nameNeil•Adams
Born27 September 1958 in Rugby, England (GBR)
Measurements178 cm / 78 kg
AffiliationsThe Budokwai
NOC Great Britain
Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 2
Bronze 0
Total 2


Regarded as Britain’s finest ever male judoka, it is ironic that Neal Adams should be as much remembered by two bouts he lost as for his many international tournaments victories. Adams learnt his judo in a small wooden hut in the middle of a car park that doubled as the local judo club and progressed quickly to become junior European champion in 1977. But 1977 was also the year Adams made his breakthrough in the senior ranks by winning a bronze medal at the European Championships. He repeated the feat in 1978 and also added a victory in the prestigious Kano Cup tournament as well. Throughout 1979 and 1980 he maintained a fierce rivalry with Italy’s Ezio Gamba and the two men swapped victories in the sport’s main championships. Adams defeated Gamba to win the 1979 European Championships whilst Gamba took revenge at the World Championships. The deciding meeting of the two came in the Olympic final in Moscow with Gamba edging to a narrow victory. Adams rebounded from this defeat by producing a scintillating performance at the 1981 World Championships to become the first man from outside Japan to win the middleweight title. Between the Moscow and Los Angeles Olympic Games Adams won every championship he contested with the exception of the 1983 World Championships, where he lost a controversial decision in the final, and he arrived in California as a clear gold medal favourite.

He produced a series of fine victories to progress to the final where, after all the closest rivals had been eliminated, he would face the little-known German Frank Wieneke. Adams appeared to be in control of the fight but a lapse of concentration was expertly punished by Wieneke and Adams was thrown for an ippon, the first such defeat of his entire career, and the German was crowned Olympic Champion.

Although he won a fifth European title in 1985, he was never quite the same fighter after his Olympic disappointment and retired after a final Olympic appearance in 1988. Adams became a leading coach after his retirement from competitive and has been head coach to the Great Britain and Belgian national teams. In addition he has produced films and technical manuals about the sport. His elder brother, Chris Adams, narrowly missed selection for the 1976 Olympics but later left the sport for a career as a professional wrestler in America. Chris Adams was killed in a shooting incident in a Miami barroom in 2001.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1980 Summer Olympics Judo GBR Neil Adams
Lightweight, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
1984 Summer Olympics Judo GBR Neil Adams
Half-Middleweight, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
1988 Summer Olympics Judo GBR Neil Adams
Half-Middleweight, Men (Olympic) =14

Olympic family relations

Special Notes