Japan's judo gold medal drought over
LONDON (AP) - Japanese judo fans can relax: After three days of competition the country that invented the sport finally won a gold medal at the London Olympics, thanks to Kaori Matsumoto.
Fighting in the women's 57K division Monday, Matsumoto defeated Romanian Corina Caprioriu, using footwork to gain an advantage throughout the match. Caprioriu was disqualified during overtime for an illegal attack from behind, but still got the silver medal.
The women's 57K bronze medals were won by American Marti Malloy and Automne Pavia of France.
Malloy's father, Marty, watched his daughter from the stands, where he was wearing a T-shirt with "Malloy'' emblazoned on it, designed like a judo uniform.
"All I can ever remember about my daughter is her going to judo tournaments since she was 6,'' he said.
Malloy wasn't sure how he would reward his daughter but said there would definitely be celebrations.
"First I'm going to have a beer in her honor,'' he said.
Also in the stands was French President Francois Hollande, and Pavia was pleased he was there.
"He said he was a little disappointed (she didn't win gold) but was still very happy,'' she said.
Japan had already won two silver medals and one bronze in judo, but it expects gold virtually every time its athletes step on the mat.
Despite their top seeding, the Japanese women had failed to make it to the podium. Before her fight Monday, Matsumoto said one of her ousted teammates told her: "You are going to win gold for us.''
Matsumoto said she talked to herself on the way to her final, telling herself to remain focused and calm.
"On behalf of my teammates, I am very happy that I was able to get a gold,'' Matsumoto said.
In the men's 73K division, Russian Mansur Isaev took gold over Japan's Riki Nakaya, the world champion and a favorite to win the division.
It was a close-fought final in which Isaev and Nakaya attempted to pin each other. Isaev was eventually able to throw Nakaya off balance before holding him down for the victory. After sitting on Nakaya's chest, Isaev got up and held out his arms in what appeared to be some showboating for the Russian fans.
It is Russia's second gold judo medal of the games. Arsen Galstyan won gold Saturday, the country's first judo gold since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Nakaya said he was disappointed not to have won another gold for Japan.
"I lost because my skills were not high enough,'' he said.
Isaev came seventh at the world championships last year. Earlier in the day, he also beat world No. 1 Wang Ki-chun of South Korea in the semifinals. The bronze medals were won by Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal of Mongolia and Ugo Legrand of France.