Four-time reigning Olympic wrestling champion Kaori Icho has not entered next month’s national championships, ending her bid for a fifth consecutive gold medal, the Japan Wrestling Federation revealed Saturday.
The 35-year-old Icho, who was unable to secure a spot in the women’s 57-kg division for next summer’s Tokyo Olympics, still had a chance to book a ticket in the 50- or 68-kg categories had she competed at the national championships.
National champions in weight categories yet to be sewn up by a Japanese Olympic qualifier are eligible to seek qualification for the 2020 Games.
After winning her fourth gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Icho did not compete for two years — a period that coincided with revelations she had been the target of abuse by the federation’s former development director Kazuhito Sakae.
Icho resumed competing last autumn and defeated up-and-coming star Risako Kawai to win last year’s women’s 57-kg national championship.
Kawai, however, defeated Icho in June’s National Invitational Championships and beat her again in a July playoff for a spot in this year’s world championships. Kawai sealed her place on Japan’s Tokyo Olympic team in September with a gold medal at the worlds.