Icho captures 4th Olympic gold medal in wrestling
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 18, 2016 10:48 AM
Japan's Kaori Icho celebrates winning gold in the women's wrestling freestyle 58-kg competition during the medals ceremony at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
LUKE MEREDITH, AP Sports Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — With just seconds to spare, Kaori Icho reminded everyone why she's the best women's wrestler in history.
Icho became the first wrestler to win four Olympic gold medals on Wednesday, scoring a takedown with less than five seconds left to beat Valeriia Koblova Zholobova of Russia 3-2 in 58-kilogram women's freestyle.
"I can't thank my family enough, and everyone else who has supported me through this journey," the Japanese wrestler said.
Icho is also the first woman to win an individual gold medal in four straight Olympics, having started her historic run at the inaugural women's tournament in Athens in 2004.
Multiple men have accomplished that feat, including American swimmer Michael Phelps.
Some wondered if Icho, now 32, still had what it takes to survive an Olympic tournament — especially after Orkhon Purevdorj of Mongolia snapped Icho's 189-match winning streak this year.
Icho rolled to the finals, though, outscoring her opponents 24-1.
But Koblova Zholobova wouldn't go away so easily. She scored a takedown late in the first period for a 2-1 lead.
Icho recovered at the last possible moment.
"I grabbed her from behind," Icho said. "I didn't aim at counterattacking at all, it was just natural."
Saori Yoshida, Icho's teammate, will try to win her fourth consecutive gold on Thursday.
48 KILOGRAMS: Eri Tosaka stunned Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan 3-2 for her fourth consecutive world title. Tosaka, down to her final shot, got a hold of Stadnik's leg with five seconds left for a two-point takedown and an improbable win. "I tried to keep on concentrating on the match and I wanted to win so I just (kept going)," Tosaka said. Stadnik took silver for the second Olympics in a row. Yanan Sun of China won bronze with a 10-0 blowout that lasted less than a period. Elitsa Atanasova Yankkova of Bulgaria also took third.
69 KILOGRAMS: Sara Dosho beat fourth-ranked Natalia Vorobeva of Russia 2-2 on criteria to give Japan a sweep of the gold medals on the first day of the women's wrestling tournament. Dosho rallied from a 2-0 deficit, stopping Vorobeva from joing Dosho's teammates, Kaori Icho and Saori Yoshida, as multiple Olympic champions. Dosho might be in line to be Japan's next multiple gold medalist in wrestling, winning her first one at just 21.
AUGELLO'S DAY: Haley Augello, the only American to compete Wednesday, lost to Tosaka after a first-round win. Augello, 21, got a chance in the repechage because Tosaka made it to the finals, but her aggressive strategy failed to pay off as she fell 3-2 to Zhuldyz Eshimova of Kazakhstan. "In the sport of wrestling, I like to look at it as a game of cat and mouse. If you want to be the mouse, that's fine. If you want to run, that's fine. I am young. I am not as experienced," Aguello said.
THE PRIDE OF INDIA: Sakshi Malik took third at 58 kilograms to become just the fourth woman from India to win an Olympic medal — all bronzes. "I had hope at least that I could win a medal, that's why I attacked," Malik said. "I was confident until the win. I earned this after a lot of hard work."