LONDON (Reuters) - French judoka Lucie Decosse, who had won every major title except an Olympic gold, finally put that right on Wednesday, ruthlessly brushing aside her surprise opponent in the final.
Decosse, 30, the overwhelming favorite in the women’s -70kg category, convincingly beat German police officer Kerstin Thiele, a tournament outsider, to claim France’s first Olympic judo title for 12 years.
The three-times world champion and silver medalist in Beijing fell to the mat in tears as victory was confirmed and her win was met with rapture by the large number of French supporters in the crowd at London’s ExCel Centre.
“I don’t think I felt any pressure because I knew that I had to give everything,” Decosse told reporters later.
“I lost at the final in Beijing, I cannot forget that. But I hope I will only remember my victory in London. I have won two Olympic medals in two categories and that’s no mean feat, and I‘m pleased with myself.”
Her gold, the first for France since the Sydney Games, follows the four bronzes the French team had already won in judo in London.
Thiele, who admitted getting to the final itself was a big dream, described her silver medal win as “crazy”.
Her semi-final clash with China’s Chen Fei had been a tense affair, during which she took a nasty blow to her face which stopped the fight for a several minutes.
She burst into tears and clasped her face when the judges awarded her the match after it was scoreless following extra time.
“I saw that Thiele having won in the semi-final was very emotional, she cried, and I thought I‘m going to take advantage of this emotion, and I did and I won,” Decosse said.
She added she would not defend her title in Brazil in four years. Having made the news, she might now also pursue a career as a television reporter.
A tearful Yuri Alvear won Colombia’s first Olympic judo medal, taking the bronze with victory over China’s Chen.
Edith Bosch of Netherlands, 32, won the other bronze, adding to her silver in Athens and bronze in Beijing.
editing by Ed Osmond and Alison Wildey