BUDAPEST – Rio Olympic gold medalist Risako Kawai and 2016 world champion Mayu Mukaida won their respective weight class finals at the world wrestling championships, as Japan claimed both gold medals on offer in the women’s events on Tuesday.
Kawai beat Elif Yesilirmak of Turkey, who bagged gold at this year’s European Championships, 8-0 in the women’s 59-kilogram freestyle, while Mukaida defeated Zalina Sidakova of Belarus 12-2 in the 55-kg division.
A day after 19-year-old Takuto Otoguro won the men’s 65-kg freestyle, Kawai scored a takedown in the second period to go up 4-0 and launched Yesilirmak over for a four-point throw to widen the lead, following up on her gold from last year at 60-kg.
She didn’t allow a single point all week at Papp Laszlo Arena, keeping a clean bout sheet against all four opponents she faced.
“I’m relieved. I had to fight over two days so I had to deal with nervousness during that time. It’s not so much about repeat gold, I’m just happy that I won,” said Kawai, who competed in the 63-kg category at Rio.
Earlier, Mukaida, who let a 6-0 lead slip through her hands in a silver medal finish at 53-kg last year, overcame a two-point deficit by winning 12 straight points for her second world title in the non-Olympic 55-kg.
Mukaida scored a takedown and two exposures against Sidakova to win by technical superiority.
“I had a strong desire to turn (last year’s) silver into a gold. I wanted to avenge the disappointment. I want to work hard and stay a champion,” Mukaida said.
Elsewhere for Japan, at 65-kg, Ayana Gempei allowed Petra Maarit Olli of Finland to come from behind to score a takedown with three seconds remaining and defeat her 6-6 on criteria in the semifinals.
“I had the win but I let her take it away. How pathetic,” said Gempei, who qualified for Wednesday’s bronze medal bout.