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Kaori Icho of Japan (red) and Ruixue Jing of China compete during the Women''s Freestyle 63 kg Wrestling on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 8, 2012 in London, England. Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images
Kaori Icho makes history for Japan

21 Oct 2012
Japanese freestyle wrestler Kaori Icho comes under the spotlight in today’s OCA Awards for athletes who produced outstanding performances at the London Olympics. The 20 OCA Award winners will receive their prizes at the OCA Banquet in Macau, China, on November 8. Kaori Icho became the first Japanese woman to win a gold medal at three consecutive Olympic Games by beating China's Jing Ruixue in the final of the 63kg freestyle wrestling division.

Icho triumphed in two rounds (3-0, 2-0) at the ExCeL Arena to add another gold medal to those she won at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. Despite her historic achievement, Icho, 28, was not completely satisfied with her performance. "I think I could've done a bit better in the matches. However, I scored points with tackles, which was good," she said.

She added she'd felt pressure leading up to London. "I feel I have big responsibility in fighting at the Olympic Games. This is one of the biggest differences from the World Championships." Icho, from Hachinohe in the northern Aomori prefecture, won seven world titles at 63kg from 2002.

She lists her occupation as a security guard, and says she started wrestling in 1987 after watching her older sister Chiharu, also a world champion, wrestle at a youth club in their hometown.
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