Kaori Icho received the People's Honor Award
TOKYO -- Four-time Olympic Games gold medalist Kaori Icho on Thursday received the People's Honor Award from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the prime minister's residence in Tokyo.
Icho became the first female Olympian to win an individual event in four consecutive Olympic Games when she triumphed in the women's 58-kilogram final over Valeria Koblova-Zholobova (Russia) at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The People's Honor Award was established in 1977 and is given to a person or group in Japan that has sparked excitement and encouragement in society through an outstanding achievement in cultural endeavors in sport, music and film among others.
Icho joins women's wrestling national team teammate Saori Yoshida as the 24 recipient of the award. Yoshida received the award in 2012 after winning her third Olympic Games gold medal in London and her 13th overall world-level title.
In the area of sports, professional baseball legend and homerun king Sadaharu Oh was the first recipient in 1977 and was later joined by Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games judo gold medalist Yasuhiro Yamashita and Sydney 2000 women's marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi.
Icho, who received from Abe a commendation, plaque and a commemorative band for a kimono, is the 13th recipient of the award from the world of sport and second from wrestling after Yoshida.
Icho later said at a dinner reception in a Tokyo hotel that "Receiving the commendation, plaque and obi, I realized for the first time what a prestigious award the People's Honor Award really is."
"At the same time, a number of sobering thoughts were simmering inside me," she added.
The reception, with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach in attendance, was being held to promote the success of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.