Kayla Harrison lost in the semifinals of the World Judo Championship on Friday but recovered to win bronze, one year after reconstructive knee surgery.
Harrison, who became the first American to win Olympic judo gold in 2012, fell to Brazil’s Mayra Aguiar in the 78-kilogram semifinals in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Aguiar went on to win the World Championship. Harrison had beaten Aguiar in the 2010 World Championships final and 2012 Olympic semifinals.
“Mentally, it’s good, because failure is my fuel,” Harrison said in a video interview.
Harrison earned one of the division’s two bronze medals in the repechage, the U.S.’ lone medal of the meet.
Harrison, 24, entered Friday ranked 17th due to not competing from April 2013 to June 2014 due to the knee surgery.
The 2015 World Judo Championships are in Astana, Kazakhstan.