Kayla Harrison did something no other American had ever done at the 2012 Olympics on Thursday. Her victory in women's judo produced the U.S.'s first gold medal in the event in Olympic history.
Harrison defeated Great Britain's Gemma Gibbons by yuko in the gold medal final of women's 78-kg judo, scoring Team USA's first gold medal in the sport, which has been contested at the Summer Olympics since 1964. The U.S. had previously won 10 medals, including Marti Malloy's bronze at this Olympics, but had never claimed gold before.
Harrison thus becomes the most decorated judoka in American history. Her background and resilience — Harrison was sexually abused for years by a former coach before beginning training under current coach Jimmy Pedro, with whom she has flourished — will also make her one of the feel-good stories of these Olympics.
France's Audrey Tcheumeo and Brazil's Mayra Aguiar, who Harrison defeated in a semifinal match, earned bronze medals in the event.