Kaori Icho became the first woman to win three Olympic wrestling titles on Wednesday, while her teammate Hitomi Obara also claimed gold as Japan cemented their dominance of the women’s sport within 30 triumphant minutes at the London Games.
The packed arena turned into a roaring sea of red and white Japanese flags after seven-time world champion Icho swept aside China’s Jing Ruixue in the final of the second-heaviest 63kg class in freestyle wrestling.
Her weeping compatriot Obara held her head in her hands and fell to her knees after coming from behind to beat Azerbaijan’s Mariya Stadnyk in Wednesday’s other final, the 48kg lightest weight division.
Japan have ruled the mat since women first began competing in Olympic wrestling in Athens in 2004, winning six out of a possible 10 golds.
They were expected to add at least one more gold on the second and final day of the women’s competition yesterday when two-time gold medal winner Saori Yoshida defended her 55kg title.
After a flawless display, Icho, 28, said it was too soon to say if she would go for a fourth gold in Brazil in 2016.
“The last three Olympics have just run past so fast, probably the fourth will arrive fast too, but I have no idea at this moment,” she said.
Icho stayed remarkably composed, despite becoming one of Japan’s greatest Olympians.
Asked repeatedly how it felt to win the hat-trick, she calmly replied: “I am very happy.”
She never looked like losing her title. Her opponent injured her eye in an earlier bout and scraped through her semi-final.
Obara, 31, needed an ounce of luck to win gold at what she said would be her first and last Olympic Games.
Stadnyk of Azerbaijan took the first round and looked capable of beating the eight-time world champion, but the Japanese wrestler fought back to win the final two rounds and take gold.
Obara, wearing a bright red leotard emblazoned with a roaring tiger’s head, broke down after her victory.
“To be honest, I thought I would lose,” she said. “My coach said: ‘It’s alright, it’s alright’ after the first period, so I was able to carry on.”
Taiwanese badminton star Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) yesterday beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in their women’s singles semi-final match to advance to today’s final at the Thailand Open. The top-seeded Tai overcame a 10-21 first-game loss to seventh seed and former world champion Ratchanok to dominate the final two games 21-13, 21-19 in 58 minutes of play at the Impact Arena in Bangkok. World No. 2 Tai is today to face world No. 4 Chen Yufei of China. Chen yesterday bested Pusarla Venkata Sindhu 21-17, 21-16 to secure her spot in the final of the Super 500 tournament. On Friday, Tai overpowered China’s He Bingjiao 21-10,
Wimbledon, widely regarded as the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament, was on Friday stripped of ranking points by the sport’s main tours in a move that threatens to reduce the Grand Slam to the status of a high-profile exhibition event. The decision by the ATP and WTA was in response to Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarusian players following the invasion of Ukraine. “It is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022,” an ATP statement said. “Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a
Defending champions Taichung Blue Whale thrashed Taoyuan Mars 6-0 in Taiwanese women’s soccer over the weekend, while Hualien City rolled on with their fourth win to sit atop the league table. While Thai fullback Pitsamai Sornsai partnered with compatriot goalkeeper Nattaruja Muthtanawech on defense, Japanese midfielder Maho Tanaka opened the scoring for Blue Whale in Saturday’s match, kicking a screamer on a volley from outside the penalty box — her first goal of the season. The match remained 1-0 heading into the break, although Taoyuan Mars striker Ho Chia-huan, a student at Hsing Wu High School in New Taipei City, had good
Faced with a machete, a fighter leaps and locks his legs around another man’s neck, bringing him crashing down to a cacophony of cheers. This is vovinam, Vietnam’s acrobatic martial art with roots dating back to the country’s struggle for independence, and it is showing at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games for the first time since 2013. Proponents are trained to use not only their hands and legs to grapple a rival to the ground, but also fend off assailants armed with blades. Short for “Vo Viet Nam” (literally “Vietnamese martial arts”) it was inspired by nationalists who sought an end to the