LONDON (Reuters) - Slovenia’s Urska Zolnir won her country’s first Olympic judo gold on Tuesday and admitted victory had even come as a surprise to herself.
The 30-year-old world number three, who won bronze in Athens in 2004, defeated China’s Xu Lili in the final of the women’s -63kg category, getting the all important winning score when she threw Xu over her shoulder for a waza-ari.
“I didn’t expect the gold medal when I woke up in the morning,” she said. “I just hoped it would come together on the day.”
She also told reporters she would not defend her title in Brazil in four years.
“You will not meet me in Rio. It’s too far, four more years to really work hard,” she said.
Slovenia had only won bronze in judo before and Zolnir’s gold also represented their fourth in any sport.
Xu’s silver was China’s first judo medal in London after the Chinese had picked up three gold and a bronze in Beijing.
The quarter-finals had earlier produced major shocks with both of the category’s standout judokas, Japan’s Yoshie Ueno and France’s Gevrise Emane, surprisingly defeated.
World number one Ueno, who trudged off dejected after her loss, bounced back to win bronze, adding to her family’s medal collection as her sister Masae was an Olympic judo champion in Athens and Beijing.
“This is my first time at the Olympics and I was nervous,” admitted Ueno, a two-time world champion and considered one of the top female judokas in all categories.
Japan were tipped to dominate the lower weight categories in London, but have so far only managed one gold.
“It is still in the lower range (of medals),” Ueno told reporters. “The coach has not said anything in particular about that but we still have tomorrow.”
Emane, 30, the world champion, said she had not been at her best in the early stages but also recovered to take the other bronze, defeating Ueno’s conqueror Joung Da-woon of South Korea, to win France’s fourth bronze medal in judo in three days.
Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Ed Osmond and Justin Palmer