Saori Yoshida still mulling competitive future

Kyodo

Three-time Olympic wrestling champion Saori Yoshida said Wednesday she has not yet decided whether she will continue to compete and wants to weigh her options carefully.

The 35-year-old has not competed since the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where she fell short of a fourth-straight Olympic gold medal, settling for silver in the women’s 53 kg.

Since then, she has doubled as a coach for the Japanese national team in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“If I decide to compete and my conditioning goes well, I don’t want to lose,” Yoshida said Wednesday, when she coached wrestlers in Tokyo. “I won’t be able to forgive myself for stepping onto the mat without the necessary desire, so I want to continue thinking about it.”

Japan Wrestling Federation’s development director Kazuhito Sakae said Yoshida, who won 13 consecutive world championships, can still be a force if she gives it her all.

“She has the strength to make the Olympics if she focuses on her training,” Sakae said. “But if she decides not to compete in December’s nationals, I think she should consider retiring.”