Shori Hamada succeeds Kayla Harrison as judo gold medallist U78kg
Hamada Shori claimed victory over long-time rival Madeleine Malonga (FRA) in the women’s U78kg category, in a rematch of their 2019 world championship bout also fought at the Budokan. When the judokas met in Tokyo two years ago, Hamada was the defending world champion. Malonga caused an upset, beating her, and following that victory with a win at the 2020 Doha Masters in Qatar.
But this time around, Hamada came out on top, her first Olympic gold medal secured with an ippon a minute and nine seconds into play.
Hamada won the seventh gold medal in judo for Japan at Tokyo 2020. Japan only won more gold medals in a sport at a single Olympic Games at Athens 2004, with eight gold medals in judo. She is the second judoka to win Olympic gold in the women's -78 kg on a home tatami, after Yang at Beijing 2008.
Hamada: "Usually Malonga is strong during the first half (of a bout), but I was not going to let her get away from me this time. Once I realised I won, I really didn't feel it. When I came of the tatami and saw the faces of the Japanese team, that's when I realised I had won the gold medal."
This was the 250th silver medal for France in all sports at the Olympic Games.
Madeleine Malonga (FRA) said: "I feel proud of myself but also disappointed. It's sport. I am proud of my journey. I was a favourite and I still achieved. Sometime we win, sometimes we lose. I have won world championships and I accept what happened.
Bronze in the women's -78kg went to Anna-Maria Wagner (GER) and Mayra Aguiar (BRA).
Mayra Aguiar of Brazil claimed three Olympic medals for Brazil after taking bronze at London 2012 and Rio 2016: "This medal has a special feeling for me and I think that's the best achievement yet in my career, based on everything I’ve lived through – everything we are all living through now with the pandemic. It has not been easy, not just for me but all of you, too. All of that helped me focus and turn my dream into reality. I am very happy and I cried like a baby. It was like burden that I got rid of. Little by little, I will realise what I've done. It will take some time to sink in."
Anna-Maria Wagner (GER) won the first Olympic medal for Germany in this event. In June of this year, she became Germany's first world champion in the women's U78kg.
The second bronze medallist Wagner reacted: "I have this fantastic team supporting me and I would certainly like to dedicate my medal to all those who came here with me, my training partners, my coaches, the trainers. This medal is theirs as much as mine."