Olympic Medalist Kaori Matsumoto Retires From Judo

Olympic medalist Kaori Matsumoto retires from judo

Two-time Olympic medalist Kaori Matsumoto has announced her retirement from judo, saying she has lost her fighting spirit after having a child.

Matsumoto told a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday that she will start a new life in a different field.

Matsumoto is 31. She won the gold medal in the 57-kilogram class at the 2012 London Olympics, and then the bronze in the same class at the Rio de Janeiro Games four years later. Her fierce fighting spirit on the mat earned her the nickname "beast."

After Rio, she temporarily left competition, got married and had a child. She returned to competition in 2018, but lost in a national tournament in November. The loss apparently made it difficult for her to participate in the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Matsumoto stated at the news conference that her top priority has now become her child, not judo.

She said that after losing in November, she realized that she no longer had her former fighting spirit, and felt that she reached the end of her career as a competitor.

She added that judo was her goal and dream, saying she could develop through judo.

Asked about her future, Matsumoto said she will start working as a member of a sales promotion team at an ice cream shop to open next week in Tokyo. She said she is hoping to make people happy through ice cream.

Matsumoto is well known for her relaxed, friendly personality off the judo mat, in sharp contrast to the intimidating image she had during competitions.