Kayla Harrison wins first American judo gold ever

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

The United States had never won a gold medal in judo, until Thursday. Kayla Harrison won gold in the 78 kg (171.9 lbs) weight division in a 2-0 win over British judoka Gemma Gibbons.

[ Photos: Kayla Harrison makes judo history ]

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This was the first Olympics for Harrison, who is just 23. She attended the 2008 Olympics to train with eventual bronze medal-winner (and current Strikeforce MMA champion) Ronda Rousey. Harrison was inspired by watching Rousey get to the podium.

Harrison earned her gold by beating Russian Vera Moskulyak, then Hungarian Abigel Joo. In the semifinals, she took out Brazilian Mayra Aguiar, then topped off her gold medal run by winning over Gibbons in front of her home crowd.

[ Related video: Athlete spotlight of Kayla Harrison ]

After the win, she leaped into the stands, where her fiance was waiting to hug her and drape her in the American flag.

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