x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Yoshida aiming to take women's sport to new level

Best Olympic wrestler No 3 Wrestling for women first appeared on the Olympics calendar at Athens in 2004, but it already is clear that Saori Yoshida of Japan is the dominant figure in the sport.

Wrestling for women first appeared on the Olympics calendar at Athens in 2004, but it already is clear that Saori Yoshida of Japan is the dominant figure in the sport.

Yoshida, 28, won gold at 55kg both at Athens and at Beijing in 2008, and she has her sights on her third gold at London 2012 - as well as Alexander Karelin's record of 12 consecutive world and Olympic titles.

"I want to set a record no one else can," she said at the Asian Games this year. "I'll keep on wrestling aggressively."

Her father was a national champion wrestler in Japan, and he introduced his daughter to the sport when she was three years old, just as it was beginning to become popular.

Yoshida is known for her technique, quickness and strength. Her signature move is a high-speed tackle.

She carried a winning streak of 119 consecutive matches into a World Cup team event in January of 2008, but she lost to Marcie van Dusen of the United States. Since then, however, Yoshida again has been unbeatable.

She said she has developed a "pendulum" tackle in which she sways gently on the mat in an attempt to lure her opponent into losing her balance. "Then I tackle into a small space created by the move," she said.

"She has acquired a variety of techniques and become stronger still," said Kazuhito Sakae, who is now her coach. "Her wrestling has matured. I may say it's artistic." Yoshida's goal of breaking Karelin's record requires her to win the world title in Istanbul in September, the Olympics gold at London next summer and the world championship in September of 2012.