Japanese legends to miss world wrestling championships

Kaori Icho
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Japan’s Kaori Icho and Saori Yoshida, who combined to win seven Olympic wrestling titles, will both miss the world championships in Paris in August, according to United World Wrestling.

Neither Icho nor Yoshida has competed since Rio, where the 32-year-old Icho became the first woman to win individual gold at four Olympics in any sport.

Yoshida, now 34, was bidding for the same but was beaten in the 53kg final by American Helen Maroulis in one of the seminal moments of the Games.

Neither Icho nor Yoshida registered for next week’s Japanese Championships, a selection event for worlds, according to Nikkan Sports.

Icho, a 10-time world champion, will miss a world championships outside of an Olympic year for the second time in her career. She skipped the 2009 Worlds while taking a break from wrestling but is otherwise undefeated in Olympic and world championships competition dating to her 2002 debut.

Yoshida also began her undefeated Olympic/worlds streak in 2002, a run that ended at the hands of Maroulis. The 13-time world champion will miss worlds for the first time since 2004.

Neither Icho nor Yoshida has committed to a run for Tokyo 2020, where each would be among the biggest stars of their home Games in any sport.

Yoshida said in the spring that she is now focused on coaching.

Maroulis, the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion, moved up from 53kg to 58kg (Icho’s weight class) this year and in April qualified for worlds.

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