Olympics: Yoshida Settles For Silver, Kawai Gold In Women's Wrestling


Olympics: Yoshida settles for silver, Kawai gold in women's wrestlingJapan's Saori Yoshida suffered a shocking loss to American Helen Louise Maroulis in the women's 53-kilogram final at the Rio Olympics on Thursday, failing in her bid to claim the gold medal in four consecutive Games.

Risako Kawai, however, made up for Yoshida's disappointment, dominating throughout the women's 63-kg final as she defeated European champion Maryia Mamashuk of Belarus to win the second gold-medal match of the day.

The 33-year-old Yoshida, who has won 13 consecutive world championships -- the last two at 53 kg and others in 55 kg, scored the first technical point in the first period against Maroulis but eventually lost 4-1 to the reigning 55-kg world champion.

"I am sorry to finish with a silver medal despite all the cheers from so many people," a teary Yoshida said. "As the Japanese captain, I should have gotten the gold medal."

No Japanese Olympic delegation captain had even won a medal since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

"I kept thinking that I would be able to win in the end, but it got to the point where I could no longer come back," she said. "I'm sorry I couldn't exert all my strength."

Yoshida's winning streak at the Olympics and the world championships combined came to a stop at 16.

Had she won in Thursday's final, she would have become the second woman wrestler, after compatriot Kaori Icho (63 kg), to strike gold at four straight Summer Games.

Yoshida, who had a bye into the second round, dominated her first two opponents to set up a semifinal against Betzabeth Angeli Arguello Villegas of Venezuela, who she beat 6-0 to set the stage for the final against Maroulis.

Kawai, the 21-year-old world silver medalist making her Olympic debut, was charged throughout the 63-kg final as she aimed to keep her cool, which she admitted she had lost at the final in last year's worlds.

"At the worlds, I was happy just to make it to the final and wasn't totally myself, and I knew that it would have to be a big stage like this to get my revenge so I went in thinking I'm definitely going to win the gold medal," Kawai said.

The 24-year-old Rio Watari in the women's heaviest weight class of 75 kg was the only one to fall out of the gate for the Japanese squad, a day after a sweep of the gold medals, including Icho's, on the first day of action.