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2012 Olympic judo hero Kaori Matsumoto retires
4 Nov 2018 14:50
Japan's London Olympic judo champion Kaori Matsumoto said Sunday she will retire from the front line of the sport following her first-round loss at the Kodokan Cup, one of the qualifying events for next year's world championships.
"I'm not that disappointed in the loss. Perhaps I've now reached the stage where I'm distancing myself from going all out and taking risks," the 31-year-old said after losing the women's 57kg division at Chiba Port Arena outside Tokyo.
"I have been thinking I need to start considering about what to do with the rest of my life if I didn't advance to the finals."
Matsumoto, dubbed the "beast," gave birth to a girl in June 2017, after finishing with a bronze at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics the previous year. She had returned to competition this year.
Since the world championships are considered an important meet ahead of the 2020 Summer Games, Matsumoto said "the possibility of competing at the Tokyo Olympics is zero percent."
She said she will talk with her family and her company whether she should retire or continue her career, but not as a member of the national team.
Matsumoto won the world championships in 2010 and 2015.
"My child became my main priority, not judo. I couldn't achieve the results I wanted and I felt qualifying for (the 2020 Tokyo) Olympics was difficult. I started thinking my adventurous days were over," she said. Despite her desire to become a "gold medalist mama," Matsumoto's Olympic hopes took a hit when she was eliminated in the first round of last November's Kodokan Cup, one of the qualifying events for this year's world championships.
But Matsumoto, also a two-time world champion, remained upbeat about the future, saying she has accomplished all her dreams and goals on the judo mat, and will move on to the ice cream counter with no regrets. "I was able to put smiles on people's faces through judo, and now I'm going to try something completely different. I'm going to try to spread smiles through ice cream."
At 2 February 2019 Matsumoto announced to retire completely.
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Loic Davenne (FRA)