BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – Kayla Harrison, the United States’ newest world judo champion, captured a gold medal Sunday morning at the European Judo Union World Cup for Women in Birmingham, England.
Coming off a silver medal performance in Uzebekistan one week earlier, Harrison, 20, dominated all four matches by ippon, the equivalent of a technical knockout in boxing.
Despite competing sick, she defeated Anastasia Dmitrieva of Russia in the opening round, and then went on to beat Jennifer Kuypers of Netherlands and Poland’s Daria Pogorzelec.
In the final, she faced Lucie Louette of France – a judo powerhouse. Both athletes were tied going into the final minute of the bout, but with 38 seconds left, Harrison connected with a powerful ouchi gari (inside leg reap) to throw the Frenchwoman and end the match decisively.
“I started each match a little slow, and things didn’t go quite as I wanted them to,” Harrison said. “However, I was methodical with my gripping tactics and waited for my opponents to make mistakes.” Harrison said this is different from her normal approach where she admits to having problems with chasing opponents and rushing the match.
“Maybe being sick gave me the patience to go four minutes into the match and exploit mistakes rather just going recklessly for a quick win,” she said.
Up next, Harrison will compete at the Grand Prix Rotterdam in Holland and attend a training camp there, and then will return home.
This tournament marks her fifth World Cup gold medal this year.
Kayla Harrison won the world judo championships on September 9 in Tokyo, Japan, making her only the fourth world champion from the United States. Originally from Middletown, Ohio, she trains under the direction of 1999 World Judo Champion Jimmy Pedro at the Pedro Judo Center in Wakefield, Mass. She also receives support from the New York Athletic Club.