Kayla Harrison wins second Olympic gold medal in judo
Kayla Harrison already had a place in the record books, but she just carved out another spot next to her own name.
Harrison won a second straight gold medal in judo on Thursday after winning by ippon over French opponent Audrey Tcheumeo in the final match at 78kg.
Harrison already held the record as the only American to ever win gold in judo in the Olympics and now she adds to her incredible resume with a second gold medal in consecutive games.
Harrison put on flawless performance after flawless performance on her way to the finals and she did the same while dominating her way through the gold medal match.
The end came with just seconds to go in the match as Harrison slipped over Tcheumeo’s back and locked on an arm bar, which earned the tap and gave her the gold medal.
Following the conclusion of her match, Harrison officially retired from competition as a proud, two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo.
There has been speculation that Harrison — who is a former teammate of Ronda Rousey — may attempt a move into mixed martial arts after her latest gold medal victory. She stated that her agent has fielded some offers, including preliminary talks with the UFC.
“I never say ‘never,’” Harrison said prior to the Olympics. “Judo is my first love. It’s my passion. But who doesn’t want to be famous? It takes a special kind of person, but I think that I could step in the cage and beat somebody up for a lot of money.”
Harrison shared a house with Rousey as the two of them trained under coach Jimmy Pedro in Massachusetts, and Harrison still holds the former women’s champion in high regard.
“I guess you can say I’ve always kind of had a Ronda complex,” Harrison said. “Because she was at the Pedros’ before me, she was their golden girl, anything she could do I wanted to do better. It’s made me push myself harder to be better and do more than any U.S. judo player has ever done.
“I think Ronda was in the right place at the right time and she was the perfect person to take women’s MMA to the level that she’s taken it. If it had been me, it wouldn’t have been as successful, because I’m not Ronda. That’s the truth of it."
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Harrison remains the first and only gold medalist in judo in U.S. history. Rousey and Marti Malloy have also medaled at past Olympics, earning bronze in 2008 and 2012, respectively.