Kaori Icho with the Japan flag after winning her fourth Olympic title (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Japan's Kaori Icho made history by becoming the first wrestler to win four Olympic gold medals, joined by teammates Eri Tosaka and Sara Dosho who claimed their first Olympic championships on the first day of women's freestyle competition at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Icho did something no other wrestler -- male or female -- has been able to do in the 120 years of the Modern Olympics: score four gold medals. The defending world champion did it in dramatic fashion, scoring a last-second victory over Russia's Valeria Koblova in the finals at 58 kilograms. Tosaka earned her gold medal at 48 kilograms/105.5 pounds, while Dosho won gold at 69 kilograms.
With less than five seconds to go -- and trailing 2-1 -- Icho countered a Koblova shot to score the difference-making two points that gave her the victory ... and that unique place in the Olympic history books.
In addition to those four consecutive Olympic titles -- the first at the 2004 Athens Games, the first to feature women's freestyle competition -- Icho also owns ten World championships, going back to 2002.
Eri Tosaka celebrates after defeating Mariya Stadnik (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Eri Tosaka, despite being a three-time defending World champion at 48 kilos, was ranked only third in the world. That ranking will now change as Tosaka toppled top-ranked Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan, 3-2, for her first Olympic gold medal.
Sara Dosho, a three-time World medalist, struck gold for her first time, and it couldn't have come at a more opportune time. The fifth-ranked Dosho upset defending World and Olympic champion Natalia Vorobieva of Russia with a takedown in the waning moments of the 69 kilo final, winning on criteria, 2-2.
With Icho, Tosaka and Dosho all winning gold Wednesday, Japan now has a record 10 gold medals and a total of 14 Olympic medals. In fact, Japan has medaled in every women's freestyle bracket contested at the Olympic Games, except one, since the sport joined the Olympic roster a dozen years ago.
Japan may claim more gold in the second day of Olympic women's freestyle competition Thursday, as three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida hopes to earn her fourth gold medal.
Bronze-medal match results
Winning bronze medals at 48 kilos were China's Yanan Sun and World No. 8 Elitsa Yankova of Bulgaria.
Sun, a 2013 World champion ranked second in the world, scored a quick technical fall over No. 4-ranked Zhuidyz Eshimova of Kazakhstan, 10-0. The win gave China its fifth Olympic medal in women's freestyle.
Yanakova, ranked No. 8, became just the second Bulgarian woman to win an Olympic wrestling medal with a 7-6 decision over No. 6-ranked Patricia Bermudez of Argentina.
Sakshi Malik became India's first-ever medalist in women's wrestling (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The two bronze medalists at 58 kilos -- Marwa Amri of Tunisia and India's Sakshi Malik -- were the first Olympic medalists for their respective nations in women's freestyle.
Amri, ranked No. 12, scored a four-point double leg with four seconds remaining against six-time world and Olympic medalist Yuliya Ratkevich of Azerbaijan to win, 6-3.
Sakshi, who had been unranked going into the Olympics, was a last-second winner with a buzzer-beating takedown of No. 6 ranked Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan. After a failed challenge by Tynybekova, the final score was 8-3.
The bronze medal winners at 69 kilos were Elmira Syzdykova of Kazakhstan and Sweden's Jenny Fransson.
Syzdykova, ranked No. 9 in the world, claimed Kazakhstan's third Olympic medal in women's freestyle with a 7-4 victory over Enas Ahmed of Egypt.
Jenny Fransson was all smiles after winning a bronze medal (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The third time was the charm for third-ranked Fransson who won an Olympic medal after two previous attempts. Fransson defeated No. 12 Dorothy Yeats of Canada, 2-1, to capture Sweden's first Olympic medal in women's freestyle.
Day 2 of women's freestyle competition Thursday will feature three U.S. wrestlers -- Helen Maroulis at 53 kilograms; Elena Pirozhkova at 63 kilograms; and, at 75 kilograms, Adeline Gray. All three have been world champions.