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Posted: Monday 30 July, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Japan's Matsumoto wins women's -57kg judo gold

Japan's Kaori Matsumoto (white) competes with Romania's Corina Caprioriu (blue) during their women's -57kg judo final at the London Olympic Games on July 30. Matsumoto took the gold after Caprioriu was disqualifed, ending Japan's women's judo medal drough
By: Barnaby Chesterman, LONDON (AFP)

    (London, GBR) - Kaori Matsumoto of Japan won the women's under-57kg category at the Olympic judo event on Monday after Romania's Corina Caprioriu was disqualified in the final.


    Caprioriu made an illegal attack from behind, earning an automatic disqualification during a sudden death golden score period in an otherwise tight final.


    By winning gold Matsumoto ended the Japanese women's judo medal drought at the Games.


    American Marti Malloy beat Beijing 2008 champion Giulia Quintavalle of Italy with a brilliant foot sweep (kouchi-gari) to claim bronze.


    The other bronze medal went to Automne Pavia under the watchful gaze of French president Francois Hollande.


    There was a lot of pressure on world number one Matsumoto's shoulders before the competition began.


    Japan have the reigning world champions in the three bottom women's weights but her team-mates Tomoko Fukumi and Misato Nakamura had failed to deliver here in the under-48kg and under-52kg categories respectively.


    Added to that, Matsumoto had been selected ahead of world champion Aiko Sato, just as her two other fellow Olympians had been picked over team-mates who were either world champion or number one in the world rankings.


    It meant the Japanese selectors were under pressure too having got their choice wrong twice already.


    But Matsumoto delivered in fine style, despite a helping hand from Caprioriu in the final.


    The 24-year-old began her gold bid by throwing Slovenia's Vesna Dzukic with an outer sweep (osoto-gari) before using an inner sweep (kosoto-gari) to despatch Kifayat Gasimova of Azerbaijan.


    Next up Quintavalle, who had been a shock winnner in Beijing having never won either a world or European medal before or since.


    The 29-year-old put up a strong challenge but Matsumoto eventually struck with another kosoto-gari.


    The Japanese star then met Pavia in the semi-finals and needed a golden score period before she pulled off an unorthodox osoto-gari to make the final.


    Pavia had upset home hopes in the first round by defeating Sarah Clark in golden score before battling past Australia's Carli Renzi and Sabrina Filzmoser of Austria.


    But in the other half the top fighters soon fell by the wayside.


    Second seed Telma Monteiro of Portugal was stunned in golden score by Malloy while third seed Rafaela Silva left the mat disconsolate after making a crucial mistake and being disqualified for an illegal leg-grab on Hungary's Hedvig Karakas.


    Caprioriu made the final with a dramatic rear throw (ura-nage) to beat Malloy with just seven seconds left of the semi-final.


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