6 years ago today (August 17th) Kaori Icho of Japan made history becoming the first wrestler ever of any style to win four Olympic gold medals.
The feat of winning four Olympic golds is something that was thought to not be possible by many. Winning three made you an all time great that would be talked about 100 years in the future. Four is something that a lot of people failed to do interesting enough, a lot of people think it has not been achieved because people would not wrestle that long.
Aleksandr Karelin lost his last match to Rulon Gardner which would have given him his fourth Olympic gold. Same with Kaori Icho falling to Helen Maroulis. Buvaisar Saitiev bombed at the 2000 Olympics taking 9th. There are a few more examples but the premise stays the same.
With women’s wrestling becoming an Olympic sport for Athens in 2004 Icho won 4 consecutive golds. She would win her first three gold medals at 63kg and her last one at 58kg at the Rio Olympic Games.
Since then of course Mijain Lopez-Nunez of Cuba was able to win his fourth Olympic gold medal becoming the second to join this prestigious club consisting of only two members.
Looking at people that could possibly enter this club one name sticks out. Abdulrashid Sadulaev, “The Tank” has been one of the best wrestlers in the world winning two Olympic gold medals already only at the age of 26. If he would have to win at 33 years old to join this group.
Along with those 4 Olympic gold medals Icho has been able to add a staggering 10 world gold medals to this. The stands at the top of the Japan’s women’s wrestling legacy along with Saori Yoshida and Hitomi Obara.
Recently Icho has recently joined the Japan national team staff to help them prepare until the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris. If there is one name to keep an eye out for it is Risako Kawai who will be looking to win her third Olympic gold medal. She won in Rio, and in Tokyo knocking off Helen Maroulis along the way. She will be looking to make history in France.