Just when you think you're tough enough


Kaori Icho makes Olympic history with fourth wrestling gold medal

Japanese fights back to become first woman to win an individual gold in four straight Games, and most decorated wrestler of all time

Photo: Rio 2016
Photo: Rio 2016

Japanese wrestler Kaori Icho has become the first woman to win an individual gold medal in four straight Olympic Games in any sport. By winning the 58kg women’s freestyle event on Wednesday (17 August) night, Icho also became the first wrestler in Olympic history to win four gold medals.

Icho, who started her historic run at Athens 2004, came from 2-1 down to win 3-2 with a takedown with less than five seconds remaining to beat Russia’s Valeriia Koblova Zholobova 3-2 in Carioca Arena 2.

The Japanese athlete has also won 10 world championship golds, and was unbeaten for 13 years and 189 matches until January 2016, when she lost to Mongolian wrestler Orkhon Purevdorj.

After the match, the Japanese wrestler spoke of the support she continues to draw from her mother, who passed away last year. “I really miss her. I know that she is looking down from heaven on me,” she said. “I feel her. The last two points (of the match), she gave me.”

Icho’s achievement may be matched as soon as tomorrow, however, when her teammate, three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida, competes in the 53kg final.