LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Gold medalist Kayla Harrison of the United States in the Women's -78 kg Judo on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 2, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Gold medalist Kayla Harrison of the United States in the Women's -78 kg Judo on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 2, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Kayla Harrison of the United States (white) and Gemma Gibbons of Great Britain compete in the Women's -78 kg Judo on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Kayla Harrison of the United States (white) and Gemma Gibbons of Great Britain compete in the Women's -78 kg Judo on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Kayla Harrison of the United States (white) and Gemma Gibbons of Great Britain compete in the Women's -78 kg Judo on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Kayla Harrison of the United States (white) and Gemma Gibbons of Great Britain compete in the Women's -78 kg Judo on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Mayra Aguiar of Brazil (white) and Kayla Harrison of the United States compete in the Women's -78 kg Judo on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
DALLAS, TX - MAY 13: Judo athlete, Kayla Harrison poses for a portrait during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 13, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Hide Caption

Middletown native wins gold in 78kg Judo at the Olympics

a a a a
Share this story

LONDON - Middletown native Kayla Harrison gave the U.S. its first judo gold medal in Olympic history, taking the 78-kilogram title Thursday at the London Games.

Harrison defeated Britain's Gemma Gibbons in a final she dominated from the start, getting a stronger grip on Gibbons and managing to throw her twice.

Harrison, 22, who lives in suburban Boston, went to the medal podium determined not to cry. After one note of "The Star-Spangled Banner," she succumbed.

A lifetime of emotions began pouring out as the former world champion thought about everything it took to get her to the top of the sport, which debuted as an Olympic event at the 1964 Tokyo Games, in the nation that invented judo.

"It's not every four years. It's every day," Harrison said. "I'm just so honored to be America's first gold medalist, and so happy to realize my dream. I'm America's first gold medalist in judo -- and always will be."

U.S. coach Jimmy Pedro, who has spent a lifetime chasing Olympic gold, gave Harrison the same pep talk on Thursday over and over again.

"All day long, I was telling her: 'There's one girl in front of you. That's all we worry about is that one girl. Are you better than her? Are you stronger than her? Are you tougher than her? Yeah? Well, then, go beat her -- because she's in your way to be an Olympic champion."'

"She heard that about 150 times today," he said.

Her medal is the U.S.' second in judo this week: Teammate Marti Malloy won a bronze in the women's 57-kilogram division.

Harrison, who is ranked No. 4 in the world but was still a gold-medal favorite, was in top form, dispatching many of her opponents with match-ending ippon moves, one in less than a minute.

The bronze medals were won by Audrey Tcheumeo of France and Mayra Aguiar of Brazil.

Copyright Copyright AP Modified, Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Olympics
Tri-State's Olympic hero still enjoying the ride
Tri-State's Olympic hero still enjoying the ride

Nick Goepper talks about girls, turning 20, his dating contest, being a role model and his plans in an interview with WCPO.

Lawrenceburg fetes Olympian with parade Saturday
Lawrenceburg fetes Olympian with parade Saturday

When Small Town America celebrates one of its own, it holds a parade. And that's what Lawrenceburg is doing for Nick Goepper.

Nick Goepper would flip to drive Indy pace car
Nick Goepper would flip to drive Indy pace car

What would be more fun: skiing around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or driving the pace car at the 500? Nick Goepper might find out.

Olympic skier Nick Goepper picks 'Dream Date'
Olympic skier Nick Goepper picks 'Dream Date'

It's fun to watch Nick Goepper hold a "Win A Dream Date with Nick" contest, but what about a "Be Nick Goepper" contest?

Lawmakers want to give Nick Goepper a tax break
Lawmakers want to give Nick Goepper a tax break

Olympic medalist Nick Goepper of Lawrenceburg might get a break on his state and federal taxes.

Perfect North fun before parade for Olympic hero
Perfect North fun before parade for Olympic hero

Nick Goepper took a break from his Olympic whirlwind to ski at Perfect North Slopes Wednesday. It was just like old times.

Nick Goepper happy to be back in the Tri-State
Nick Goepper happy to be back in the Tri-State

Goodbye Russia and the Olympics. Hello Lawrenceburg and Skyline Chili.

WATCH: Popo interviews Nick Goepper's family
WATCH: Popo interviews Nick Goepper's family

9 On Your Side sports director John Popovich sat down with the family of U.S. Olympian and eastern Indiana kid Nick Goepper for a…

Winter Olympics come to a close
Winter Olympics come to a close

Flushed with pride after its athletes' spectacular showing at the costliest Olympics ever, Russia celebrated Sunday night with a visually…

Finland and the US battle for bronze in hockey
Finland and the US battle for bronze in hockey

The US faced off against Finland in the bronze medal round of hockey on Saturday.