(Harrison [top] grapples with Gemma Gibbons of Great Britain during the gold medal match earlier today. Photo props: SFGate)
Without throwing around too many spoilers, it’s been a monster of a day for American women at the 2012 Olympics. And for martial arts fans, it’s a historic one, as women’s 78kg competitor Kayla Harrison became the first American athlete ever to win a gold medal in judo. She’s just the second American woman to medal at the Olympics, following Strikeforce champ Ronda Rousey (her former training partner), who took bronze in 2008. Women’s 57kg competitor Marti Malloy also won a bronze on Monday, making the 2012 London games the first Olympics since 1998 in which the USA has earned two medals in judo.
Harrison, who entered this year’s competition ranked fourth in the world, reached the finals by defeating Vera Moskalyuk (Russia), Abigel Joo (Hungary), and world-ranked #1 Mayra Aguiar (Brazil), all by ippon. She faced Great Britain’s Gemma Gibbons in the gold-medal match, and won 2-0 on a pair of yukos. In your face, world.
After the jump: A Boston Globe video-profile on Harrison’s life and training, and a TV-shot video of the end of her finals match against Gibbons.