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Olympic wrestling legend Saori Yoshida announces retirement

Kyodo

Wrestling icon Saori Yoshida said Tuesday she will close the curtain on her decorated career.

“I have decided to end my 33-year career as a competitive wrestler,” Yoshida, a three-time Olympic champion, said on Twitter.

“I have been able to do my best as an active wrestler because of the cheers and support from many people.”

The 36-year-old topped the podium in the women’s 55-kg division at three straight Summer Games between 2004 and 2012, but fell short of a fourth straight gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, settling for silver in the 53-kg division.

She is a 13-time world champion and also won four straight golds at the Asian Games between 2002 and 2014.

Yoshida plans to hold a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday.

“I want to show my appreciation and announce my retirement in front of everybody,” she said.

Yoshida began participating in the sport as a 3-year-old in Mie Prefecture under her father, Eikatsu, who ran a wrestling school. She won her maiden world championship in 2002 when she was 20 and went on to claim 13 consecutive titles.

Between 2001 and 2008, Yoshida won 119 consecutive matches.

She received the People’s Honor Award in 2012, after she surpassed Alexander Karelin’s number of consecutive world titles. The Russian legend had won three Olympic gold medals and nine world championships in the men’s 130-kg class between 1988 and 1999.

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