The living legend of world wrestling Kaori ICHO has officially ended her quest for an unprecedented fifth straight Olympic gold when she decided not to enter the Japan wrestling national championships. This was Icho’s last window of opportunity to qualify for Tokyo 2020. According to the Japanese wrestling federation Icho has decided not to compete at the national championships.
Icho had lost out for the women’s 57kg spot to fellow Rio Olympic champion Risako Kawai, who punched her ticket to Tokyo 2020 with a gold in Nur-Sultan. When Mukaida and Yukako Kawai also secured their spots at the weight classes immediately above and below, the only avenues left were at 50kg and 68kg — and Icho didn’t see much hope in either choice.
The Japanese legend has won 4 consecutive olympic golds by winning in 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing Olympic, 2012 London Olympic & 2016 Rio Olympics Gold.
With victory in Rio she became the first woman to join the elite club. The club which had 4 greats of all time, sailor Paul Elvstrøm (Denmark) , discus thrower Al Oerter (USA), long jumper Carl Lewis (USA) and swimmer Michael Phelps (USA) as athletes to earn individual gold medals at four Olympics.
Kaori Icho could have created history by winning 1 more gold at 2020 Tokyo Olympics. By this she would have become the first sports-person ever to win 5 consecutive individual gold medals in the history of Olympics.
Icho once held a 13-year win streak overall and owns 10 world championships. She is already the oldest female Olympic wrestling champion. Women’s wrestling was added to the Olympic program in 2004 which was Icho’s first Games.
The 35-year-old Icho, who was unable to secure a spot in the women’s 57-kg division for next summer’s Tokyo Olympics, still had a chance to book a ticket in the 50- or 68-kg categories had she competed at the national championships.National champions in weight categories yet to be sewn up by a Japanese Olympic qualifier are eligible to seek qualification for the 2020 Games.
After winning her fourth gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Icho did not compete for two years — a period that coincided with revelations she had been the target of abuse by the federation’s former development director Kazuhito Sakae.
Icho resumed competing last autumn and defeated up-and-coming star Risako Kawai to win last year’s women’s 57-kg national championship.
Kawai, however, defeated Icho in June’s National Invitational Championships and beat her again in a July playoff for a spot in this year’s world championships. Kawai sealed her place on Japan’s Tokyo Olympic team in September with a gold medal at the worlds.
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