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Kayla Harrison became the first American ever to win a gold medal in judo, winning the final match of the women’s -78kg weight class against Great Britain’s Gemma Gibbons and her fervent home crowd.
Harrison grabbed an early lead against Gibbons and the match was never really in doubt.
“We’ve never reached that pinnacle,” head coach Jimmy Pedro said of the gold medal, earlier in the week. “It would be an Olympic legacy. And Kayla Harrison is the most deserving person that I know to do it.”
Harrison, who entered the Olympics ranked fourth in the world, was the first American woman ever to reach the Olympic final. Her run through London punctuated a wildly successful Olympics for Team USA, in which Marti Malloy also earned a bronze medal in the 57kg weight on Monday. Only one American woman had ever medaled in judo, before Harrison and Malloy accomplished the feat together this year.