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Japan's Kaori Icho wins historic 3rd Olympic title in women's freestyle

Craig Sesker USA Wrestling

Japan’s Kaori Icho became the first three-time Olympic champion in women’s freestyle on Wednesday night. Jason Bryant photo.

LONDON – The third time was just as sweet for Japan wrestling legend Kaori Icho.

A champion at the historic first Olympic Games for women’s freestyle wrestling in 2004 in Athens, Greece, Icho earned her second gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

The 28-year-old Icho made more history by becoming the first three-time Olympic women’s wrestling champion Wednesday night before a sellout crowd of 6,500 fans at the ExCel North Arena 2.

Icho, a seven-time World champion, added another jewel to her sparkling resume when she defeated China’s Rui Xue Jing 3-0, 2-0 in the Olympic finals at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.

Icho’s teammate, Hitomi Sakamoto Obara, rallied to defeat World champioin Mariya Stadnyk of Azerbaijan 0-4, 1-0, 2-0 in the finals at 48 kg/105. 5 lbs.

Sakamoto is another Japanese legend, who is an eight-time World champion. She defeated Stadnyk after also beating her in the finals of the 2011 World Championships.

Sakamoto was wrestling in her first Olympics. She used to compete at 51 kg/112.25 lbs., one of the non-Olympic weight classes before dropping down to win World titles at 48 kilos the last two years in preparation for this Olympics.

There were two Olympic champions and three World champions entered in the loaded weight class at 48 kilos. Sakamoto becomes the third Olympic champion in that division. 2004 Olympic champion Irini Merleni of Ukraine finished fifth in London and 2008 Olympic champion Carol Huynh of Canada won a bronze medal.

London, England, August 8

Women’s freestyle

48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Gold – Hitomi Sakamoto Obara (Japan)
Silver – Maria Stadnyk (Azerbaijan)
Bronze – Clarissa Chun (USA)
Bronze – Carol Huynh (Canada)
5th – Isabelle Sambou (Senegal)
5th – Irini Merleni (Ukraine)
7th – Iwona Matkowska (Poland)
8th – Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (Belarus)
9th – Otgontsetseg Davaasukh (Mongolia)
10th – Mayelis Caripa Castillo (Venezuela)

Medal Matches
Gold – Hitomi Sakamoto Obara (Japan) dec. Maria Stadnyk (Azerbaijan), 0-4, 1-0, 2-0
Bronze – Clarissa Chun (USA) dec. Irini Merleni (Ukraine), 1-0, 3-0
Bronze – Carol Huynh (Canada) dec. Isabelle Sambou (Senegal), 1-0, 1-0

63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan)
Silver – Rui Xue Jing (China)
Bronze – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia)
Bronze – Lyubov Volossova (Russia)
5th – Martine Dugrenier (Canada)
5th – Monika Michalik (Poland)
7th – Yulia Ostapchuk (Ukraine)
8th – Katherine Vidiaux Lopez (Cuba)
9th – Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia)
10th – Hanna Johansson (Sweden)

Medal Matches
Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan) dec. Rui Xue Jing (China), 3-0, 2-0
Bronze – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia) dec. Martine Dugrenier (Canada), 2-0, 1-0
Bronze – Lyubov Volossova (Russia) dec. Monika Michalik (Poland), 1-0, 0-1, 1-0
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