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Legendary Kayla Harrison double Olympic champion

11 Aug 2016 23:00

   IJF Media Team / International Judo Federation
20160811_IJF_JW_Kayla Harrison57

“I am Kayla Harrison, double Olympic Champion”. She’ll has to get used to that one, although she must have practiced it a bit in the four year’s campaign to follow up her Olympic title to become legend. Kayla Harrison took the Olympic title in Rio for women U78kg in the final against French Audrey Tcheumeo. Not the best final, for intense that Tcheumeo has always kept in line with Kayla in their encounters, 4-4, but this one was Kayla’s.

Fully aware of her mission she started the day with victory in just 22 seconds against Chinese Zhang Zhehui. As world champion Mami Umeki got caught by Abigel Joo, it was Harrison who had to face Joo again, like in 2012, also in the quarter final. Just like in London it was Harrison who won. Overall things went by the book, Mayra Aguiar qualified on the other side with Audrey Tcheumeo and Ana Velensek was back in time after her knee injury and qualified for the semi final as well. Those same four women stood on the podium of the 2014 World Championships in Chelyabinsk, the one that Aguiar won. This time it was Aguiar who was surprised by Audrey Tcheumeo, perhaps by the referee, but it was clear that Tcheumeo wanted the title this time after London’s bronze. Same for Aguiar of course, at home after that long journey of four years. Tcheumeo to the final while Harrison overcame Ana Velensek, for the ninth time.

For bronze Cuban miracle Yalennis Castillo didn’t find the stop button as she had fought the regular four minutes against Marhinde Verkerk in the 1/8 final and added 6.42 in the additional time before the referee called a shido against Verkerk. Castillo lost to Velensek and defeated Joo in the repechage. For bronze she had no chance against Mayra Aguiar who celebrated the bronze medal with the home crowd. Maybe more was expected but Aguiar digested her previous loss against Tcheumeo well and celebrated as champions should do.

Ana Velensek choked Luise Malzahn of Germany, who had lost the quarter final to Aguiar. Malzahn fought her 14th match against Velensek, just to confirm how well these ladies know eachother to the bone. Last two matches were won by Malzahn, but this medal was again for Slovenia that had such as incredible week.

New and DOUBLE Olympic Champion is Kayla Harrison, the legend from Boston, the legend from the USA, who can now make another step after enjoying this title so much. What a week for the United States with two finals. America’s double Olympic judo champion said: “Winning my first Olympic gold in 2012, I thought nothing would ever get better but this is better."

“Like I've said before, what people don't realise is that it is not just today, it's the four years that led up to today. I can't tell you how many times I've drilled all of those situations, thousands and thousands and thousands. I've fought every single girl here a million times. My coaches made me fight in every tournament when I was tired, when I was injured, when I didn't want to fight. That's the reason that I won today, is because of them. They made me mentally tough and they made me ready for any situation."

Double Olympic Champions

For Japan: Nomura (3), Tani, M. Ueno, Saito, A. Tanimoto, Uchishiba,  Douillet FRA, Ruska NED, Seisenbacher AUT, Legien POL, Xian CHN, Harrison USA

perhaps Teddy Riner (FRA) and Idalys Ortiz (CUB) can be added to the list after the last day of competition.

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  • Kayla Harrison (USA) - 2016 Olympic Games day 6 Judo U100kg & U78kg (2016, BRA) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation

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