Five days after wrestler Saori Yoshida’s father died suddenly, the Olympic champion led Japan to its first World Cup win in two years over Russia. Yoshida overpowered Maria Gurova in the 53-kilogram class with a technical fall.
Eikatsu, Yoshida’s 61-year old father, was found dead in his car from a brain hemorrhage on Tuesday, March 11. The former 1973 national wrestling champion was the coach for Japan’s women’s team up to the time of his death, and was instrumental in lifting women’s wrestling in Japan. He was on his way to a training camp in Tokyo when the incident happened. The grieving Yoshida was carrying her father’s ashes in a pouch when she went up the podium to receive her medal after the victory. Thanking her supporters and media, who offered messages of condolences and support, the 31-year old wrestler described where her father used to sit during their matches and said, “Today, I felt my father was out there with me on the mat.” Adding, “I felt my father’s power.”
Despite mourning and nursing a knee injury, Yoshida went through the two-day wrestling event, which secured Japan its seventh title. She told reporters that she is “not the only one who is feeling this way,” as she exampled figure skater Mao Asada, who competed to win her fifth national title in 2011 after the death of her mother. Yoshida pledged to win another Olympic medal saying, “At the (2016) Rio Olympics, I want to go for a fourth straight title for my father.”
[via Global Post]