Kayla Harrison, the American gold medalist judoka at -78kg in London, has defended her title.
Facing France’s Audrey Tcheumeo, Harrison kept her opponent at bay for nearly the entire round before springing her signature arm bar (or Ude-hishigi-juji-gatame) in the waning seconds to win by ippon — the judo equivalent of a knockout.
Harrison — who became the first American to win judo gold four years ago — contemplated retirement after London to become a firefighter. Now she’s a two-time gold medalist and is the first American to do so regardless of gender or weight classification.
Earlier in the day, she spent only 250 seconds on the mat, winning by ippon in all three of her previous matches. Harrison defeated Zhang Zhehui of China in 42 seconds with a broken scarf hold (or Kuzure-kesa-gatame) in the round of 16. In the quarterfinal, Harrison defeated Abigel Joo of Hungary in 1:45 seconds with a broken upper four-quarter hold-down (or Kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame). She advanced to the final after beating Anamari Velensek of Slovenia in 1:43 seconds with her arm bar (or Ude-hishigi-juji-gatame) in the semifinals.
Harrison had stated that this would be her last Olympic games, and in the immediate aftermath of her victory, she stuck to her word by announcing her retirement from the sport.
She has previously said she is considering MMA down the road. On the Olympic mat, her legacy as the greatest American judoka is cemented.
Velensek beat Germany’s Luise Malzahn for a bronze medal, while Brazilian Mayra Aguiar beat Cuba’s Yalennis Castillo for her bronze medal.