When Ronda Rousey competed at the Olympics

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Even when Ronda Rousey was at the height of her MMA fame, she spoke about the most crushing defeat of her career — that her Olympic judo medal was bronze and not gold.

“That was my childhood dream,” Rousey said in October 2015, two weeks before the first of two UFC defeats that ultimately led to her retirement. “I spent my whole life in pursuit of that. I had to give that up, and I had to really come to terms with the fact that wasn’t for me. I’ve always really been heartbroken from that in a way, and in a way that I’m still really grateful for because I think if I did win the Olympics, I wouldn’t have this never-ending resource of motivation that I have. Every single time I go out there to defend my [UFC] title, it’s like another chance to redeem myself, but it’s never quite an Olympic gold medal.

“In judo, you train your whole life, and you have one day to be an Olympic champion, and that’s it. … Nothing can compare to that pressure.”

Rousey was the face of U.S. judo in the mid-2000s. In 2004, she became the youngest American judoka to compete in an Olympics, losing in the first round at age 17.

Rousey entered the 2008 Beijing Games as a world championships silver medalist. She had a chance to become the second American woman to win a global judo title. The first? Mom AnnMaria De Mars, who bagged the 1984 World title, four years before Olympic judo opened to women (first as a demonstration sport).

“My mom always said she wanted me to know what it feels like to be best in the world because, no matter what happens to you later, you’ll always have that as inspiration to know you can do anything you want,” Rousey said in Beijing.

Rousey didn’t quite get there in judo. She was halted in the quarterfinals by Dutchwoman Edith Bosch, whom the 5-foot-7 Rousey described in her autobiography as “a six-foot Dutch chick with an eight-pack. I looked like a hobbit next to her.”

Bosch had dislocated Rousey’s elbow in two matches in 2007. At the Olympics, they went scoreless in regulation to force a five-minute overtime where the first to score wins. Rousey went for a throw, was countered and turned onto the mat.

“I went back to the warm-up room and sobbed, hot tears running down my face,” Rousey wrote. “I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. Then something clicked and I went from devastated to f—— furious.”

She marched through the repechage, winning all three matches to take the bronze medal. Rousey may not have left a world champion, but she became the first U.S. woman to earn an Olympic judo medal.

“Of all the third-place finishes in my career, the bronze in the Olympics was the only one I took any satisfaction in,” Rousey wrote. “But still, there was a void.”

Rousey took a year off, returned to training in 2009 and competed in 2010. She hoped to continue in judo and start mixed martial arts. But she and coach Jimmy Pedro split, and soon after Rousey canceled a trip to a Brazilian tournament and began focusing on MMA.

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Teddy Riner, French judoka, loses for first time since 2010

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French judoka Teddy Riner suffered his first defeat since 2010, ending his win streak at 154 matches.

Japanese Kokoro Kageura beat Riner in the third round of the Paris Grand Slam on Sunday.

“If this happens at the [Tokyo Olympic] Games I’ll be annoyed. Better this happens now than then,” Riner said, according to Agence France-Presse. “But I’ll tell you another thing too. It’s a relief in a way. Counting wins as I closed in on [Yasuhiro] Yamashita‘s record [203 straight in the 1970s and ’80s] was really heavy.”

Riner, a 30-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, was undefeated since December 2010.

He earned Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. Riner rarely competed the last two years, skipping the 2018 and 2019 World Championships to rest up for another Olympic run.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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Rafaela Silva, Brazil’s first gold medalist of Rio Olympics, banned 2 years

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Rafaela Silva, the judoka who grew up in Rio’s most famously violent favela to become Brazil’s first gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, was banned two years and is in line to miss the Tokyo Olympics, according to multiple Brazilian reports.

Silva tested positive for a banned substance at August’s Pan American Games, it was previously announced. The substance, fenoterol, can be legal to treat asthma if an athlete has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). Silva did not produce a TUE, so she was stripped of a Pan Am gold medal.

Silva is appealing the suspension, according to Brazilian media.

Silva claimed innocence at a news conference in September, reportedly saying that a young child with whom she had bodily contact at her training location used the substance.

The 27-year-old backed up her Rio Olympic 57kg title by taking bronze at the world championships in August, after the Pan Am Games but before her positive test was announced. Silva said that she had a clean drug test at worlds, according to O Globo.

Silva, from Rio’s Ciadade de Deus favela, has the Olympic rings tattooed on her right bicep with the inscription “God knows how much I’ve suffered and what I’ve done to get here.”

Brazil’s top female swimmer, Etiene Medeiros, reportedly tested positive for fenoterol in May 2016 but was cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics.

In PyeongChang, Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol and was scratched before his nation’s last game before it was announced. Jeglic was suspended from the Games and, later, was suspended eight months.

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