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Kaori Icho becomes first wrestler to ever win four gold medals

Kaori Icho wins fourth gold at Olympics
John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Kaori Icho becomes first wrestler to ever win four gold medals

Icho is also the first female in any sport to win individual-event gold at four Olympics

Kaori Icho emerged victorious from a thrilling gold medal match to win her fourth straight Olympic title.

With the win, Icho has become the first wrestler to ever win four Olympic gold medals. She is also the first female in any sport to win individual-event gold at four Olympics.

In the 58kg gold medal match with Russia's Valeria Koblova, Icho found herself in an unfamiliar position – trailing late in the match. Behind 2-1 with the clock ticking down, Icho got ahold of the Russian and desperately tried to manipulate her opponent to get a score. The referee finally awarded a two-point score to Icho with less than five seconds on the clock, giving her a dramatic 3-2 win.

It was the second gold medal of the day for Japan in women's wrestling. About an hour earlier, teammate Eri Tosaka won an Olympic title at 48kg in similarly dramatic fashion.

Over the years, Icho has been a linchpin for Japan's dominant women's wrestling team. Ever since women's divisions were added to the Olympic wrestling program in 2004, she has earned gold at every Games. In addition to her Olympic hardware, Icho has accrued 10 world titles and won 189 consecutive matches over a 13-year period from 2003-2016.

Her teammate Saori Yoshida has been just as dominant and can match Icho's feat of four gold medals when she competes in the women's 53kg tournament on Thursday.

Up until the gold medal round, Icho's status as the favorite was never in question. Across her three preliminary-round matches, she rolled to victories by technical fall in two in two of them and gave up just a single point in the other.

The two 58kg bronze medal matches also produced exciting last-second victories. Tunisia's Marwa Amri and India's Sakshi Malik both claimed their respective nations' first-ever medals in women's wrestling thanks to buzzer-beating scores.

Trailing 3-2, Amri scored a four-point takedown on Azerbaijan's Yuliya Ratkevich with less than 10 seconds left to win the first bronze medal match 6-3.

Malik's winning score came with even less time on the clock. With the second bronze medal match tied 5-5 but Malik's opponent – Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan – leading on criteria, Malik scored two points right as time expired to take the lead. A failed challenge from Tynybekova's corner made the final score 8-5.

Women's 58kg quarterfinals
Icho (JPN) wins 3-1 vs. Yesilrmak (TUR)
Ratkevich (AZE) wins 7-3 vs. Renteria (COL)
Tynybekova (KGZ) wins 14-7 vs. Olli (FIN)
Koblova (RUS) wins 9-2 Malik (IND)

Women's 58kg semifinals
Icho (JPN) wins by tech fall 10-0 vs. Ratkevich (AZE)
Koblova (RUS) wins 4-1 vs. Tynybekova (KGZ)

Women's 58kg repechage matches
Purevdorj (MGL) wins by fall (2:13) vs. Niemesch (GER)
Amri (TUN) wins 3-2 vs. Yesilrmak (TUR)
Malik (IND) wins 12-3 vs. Purevdorj (MGL)

Women's 58kg bronze medal matches
Amri (TUN) wins 6-3 vs. Ratkevich (AZE)
Malik (IND) wins 8-5 vs. Tynybekova (KGZ)

Women's 58kg gold medal match
Icho (JPN) wins 3-2 vs. Koblova (RUS)

Eri Tosaka wins women's 48kg wrestling gold with last-second takedown

The Japanese wrestler earns her fourth straight global title thanks to a dramatic finish

Read More +

Sara Dosho completes Japanese sweep on first day of women's wrestling

Japan wins all three gold medals given out in women's wrestling on Wednesday

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