NARITA, CHIBA PREF. - Ten-time world champion Kaori Icho said Monday she believes she can come back stronger after suffering her first loss on the mats in 13 years at the Golden Grand Prix Ivan Yarygin in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
The 31-year-old Icho, a freestyle wrestling gold medal winner at the last three Olympics who is already assured a place at this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Games, eased to the final with three wins but succumbed to a 10-0 technical fall to Mongolian Orkhon Purevdorj in the final of the women’s 58-kg category on Friday.
“Every time I look at it (the silver medal) the feelings of frustration will probably return. I want to cherish that,” Icho told reporters after returning home at Narita airport.
“It wasn’t that my opponent was strong, it was more a case of me being weak,” she said of the defeat. “This has been a good lesson. If I can get over this then I think I will become much, much stronger.”
Icho had last lost by default in the Asian Championship in 2007, but her most recent defeat on the mat before Friday came in 2003 when she lost against Sara McMann of the United States at the Klippan Open.
Friday’s loss in Russia was Icho’s first in 190 bouts, according to the Japan Wrestling Federation.
Icho had her takedowns countered as she went on to trail 5-0 in the first period and was uncharacteristically thrown to the floor as the deficit doubled in the second.
“She (Icho) attacked from the sides and I think the outcome would have been different if she had put priority on winning,” said JWF women’s freestyle strengthening coach Toshihiro Naritomi.