• Kyodo

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Reigning world champion Mayu Hamada secured a berth in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro when she met the qualifying criteria by placing fourth in the World Taekwondo Federation Olympic rankings on Sunday.

Although Hamada, competing in the women’s 57-kg weight category, lost to Nikita Glasnovic of Sweden in the first round of the WTF World Grand Prix Final at the Sala de Armas Gymnasium, she became eligible for her second straight Olympic appearance.

Those ranked among the top six in each of the eight taekwondo weight classes at the end of the 2015 season automatically qualify for an Olympic berth.

“Winning an Olympic berth is an important goal but I have a higher goal that I’d like to achieve. There’s still much work to do,” the Tokuyama University student said.

As an 18-year-old, Hamada finished fifth at the London Olympics in 2012, then went on to become the first Japanese taekwondo fighter to claim a gold medal at the world championships, achieving the feat in May of this year.

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