Kayla Harrison celebrates her gold medal win over Mayra Aguiar of Brazil in the -78 kg. judo gold medal match at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games at the Mississauga Sports Centre on July 14, 2015 in Toronto.
|Kayla Harrison poses with a fan following her win at the Judo Grand Slam on Dec. 6, 2015 in Tokyo.|
Colorado Springs, CO -- Kayla Harrison wins the coveted Jigoro Kano Cup in the 78-kg weight category after battling an injury the week before a the Grand Prix Jeju that kept her from fighting in the final. Harrison secured the highest spot on the podium after fighting some of the highest-skilled judokas in the world on the third and final day of the season-ending Grand Slam in Tokyo.
“I know now more than ever what I am capable of and it is because of the people behind me," said Harrison. "I'm so lucky and blessed to have the team that I have. I can honestly say that without them I would have given up. I'm looking forward to 2016 and all that it has to offer. Thanks to everyone for the support and encouragement this year. I am happy, but never satisfied. Rio here I come!”
On her way to the final, Harrison defeated 2012 Olympic final opponent, Gemma Gibbons, in the preliminary round; current world champion, Mami Umeki, in the semifinal and two-time 2015 Grand Slam gold medalist, Guusje Steenhuis, whom Kayla beat by Yuko.
Kayla is not new to making history as a 2012 Olympic champion and with last year’s victory at this same event she became the first American to ever win the Grand Slam Tokyo. Now in 2015, she is the defending champion a second year in a row of what some consider to be the toughest and most important competition event of the world judo tour.