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Olympic Judo Recap: Day Four Brings a First for Slovenia, and More Disappointment for Japan

Yahoo Contributor Network

Urska Zolnir of Slovenia made history for her country by capturing the women's judo title in the Half-Middleweight class, thereby becoming the first Slovenian woman to win Olympic gold.

Zolnir had previously won a bronze at the 2004 Olympics, yet was not considered a favorite at age 30 for the title in London.

In a hotly-contested final, Zolnir defeated China's Xu Lili at 63 kilograms. Zolnir scored early in regulation time and that was enough for her to take the victory.

China, which saw its judoka earn four judo medals at home in 2008, got its first medal-podium finish of these Games.

Yoshie Ueno of Japan and Gevrise Emane-both pre-competition favorites-picked up the bronze medals through the repechage.

On the men's side at 81 kilograms, South Korea's Kim Jae-Bum-the reigning world champion-secured the gold in the Half-Middleweight class with a hard-fought victory over Germany's Ole Bischof.

Kim threw Bischof to the tatami on a pair of occasions and was the more impressive judoka throughout the match.

Kim now has two Olympic medals to his credit, with the first being silver won in 2008.

For American judo fans, Travis Stevens put on a courageous performance in the Half-Middleweight class and nearly earned a medal.

After winning his way through Pool A, including a quarter-final victory over Brazil's Leandro Guilheiro-a two-time Olympic bronze medalist, Stevens met eventual silver medalist Bischof in one semi-final.

Despite a deep laceration over his left eye suffered early in their match, Stevens fought on and performed very well, with the match ending in a scoreless draw after regulation time and a three-minute overtime period.

However, Bischof was rewarded with a trip to the gold-medal match after a unanimous judges' decision for him.

Stevens also came up short in his bronze-medal bout with Canada's Antoine Valois-Fortier, but should be able to take some consolation from the fact that he proved himself capable of competing with the world's best judoka.

In addition to Fortier, Russia's Ivan Nifontov also earned a bronze-medal spot on the podium.

Patrick Hattman covers the Olympics for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and looks forward to more drama and excitement from the judo competition at the London Games.

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