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London gold medalist Kaori Matsumoto to retire from judo’s front line

Kyodo

London Olympic judo champion Kaori Matsumoto said Sunday she will retire from the front line of the sport following her first-round loss at the Kodokan Cup, one of the qualifying events for next year’s world championships.

“I’m not that disappointed (in the loss). Perhaps I’ve now reached the stage where I’m distancing myself from going all out and taking risks,” the 31-year-old said after losing the women’s 57-kilogram division at Chiba Port Arena outside Tokyo.

“I have been thinking I need to start considering about what to do with the rest of my life if I didn’t advance to the finals.”

Matsumoto, known as the “beast,” gave birth to a girl in June 2017, after finishing with a bronze at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics the previous year. She had returned to competition this year.

Since the world championships are considered an important meet ahead of the 2020 Summer Games, Matsumoto said “the possibility of competing at the Tokyo Olympics is zero percent.”

She said she will talk with her family and her company whether she should retire or continue her career, but not as a member of the national team.

Matsumoto also won the world championships in 2010 and 2015.