London 2012: Yoshida carries off coach after wrestling treble

Updated: 10 August 2012 03:54 IST

Japan's Saori Yoshida won a third Olympic 55kg women's freestyle wrestling title on Thursday and celebrated by performing a cartwheel and grappling with her coach.

London 2012: Yoshida carries off coach after wrestling treble
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London:

Japan's Saori Yoshida won a third Olympic 55kg women's freestyle wrestling title on Thursday and celebrated by performing a cartwheel and grappling with her coach.

She defeated Canada's Tonya Verbeek, bronze medallist in Beijing four years ago and her beaten opponent in the inaugural 2004 final in Athens, in the gold medal match.

A day after Japan's Kaori Icho completed a hat-trick of Olympic 63kg golds, and compatriot Hitori Obama became the 48kg champion, Yoshida's success saw Japan take three of the four women's wrestling titles on offer.

Yoshida dumped Verbeek on her back for a three-point score in the opening period and sealed victory with a takedown in the second, upheld despite a Canadian challenge.

An elated Yoshida -- roared on by chants of "Saori, Saori" from the massed ranks of Japanese fans -- celebrated with a cartwheel, lifted up the Japan team wresting coach, before flipping him onto the mat and then carrying him on her shoulders.

Yoshida's conclusive win rounded off a Games where she didn't concede a point.

It also meant Yoshida, who has also won nine world championships, had equalled the record of 12 world-level titles held by Russia's three-time Olympic Greco-Roman gold medal winner Alexander Karelin.

Verbeek, 35 next week, was left reflecting on what might have been,

"One call could have changed things a bit, but ultimately I'm happy for what I have done for Canada," she said.

The tone for extravagant celebration had already been set in a bronze medal bout where Colombia's Jackeline Renteria Castillo beat Tetyana Lazareva.

Castillo, even before the referee had raised her arm to formally confirm her victory over the Ukrainian, was being lifted high in the air by her exultant coach -- who was then promptly dumped to the mat by his charge.

Azerbaijan's Yuliya Ratkevich defeated Russia's Valeriia Zholobova for the other bronze.

Geeta Phogat -- India's first female Olympic wrestler -- gave a creditable account of herself before losing 3-1 first up to Verbeek, although the 2010 Commonwealth Games champion was well beaten by Lazareva in the repechage.

Russia's Natalia Vorobieva upset the form book by defeating Bulgaria's five-time world champion Stanka Zlateva Hristova, the Beijing silver medallist, in the 72kg final.

Hristova looked to be in charge early on but was stunned later when the 21-year-old Vorobieva, at her first Games, managed to turn her for a winning score and a 5-0 victory.

Vorobieva had defeated 2008 gold medallist Wang Jiao in her semi-final and there wasn't even the consolation of a bronze for the Chinese.

She was beaten for a place on the podium by Kazakhstan's Guzel Manyurova, who'd ended Japanese hopes of a clean sweep by defeating Kyoko Hamaguchi.

The other bronze went to Maida Unda, the first Spaniard, male or female, to win an Olympic wrestling medal.

Topics : Wrestling Olympics 2012
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