The student has become the master.
Well, sort of. Coached by Brown alum Jimmy Pedro (’94), Team USA’s Kayla Harrison became the first American to take Gold in judo as she defeated Gemma Gibbons of Great Britain, 2-0 in the half heavyweight championship bout. Pedro, the US judo coach, was a world champion and a four-time Olympian, winning Bronze in 1996 and 2004.
Harrison scored the second of her two yukos to take a 2-0 lead with just over a minute remaining. From there, she held off the crowd favorite Gibbons to become the first American Olympic judo champion, male or female.
Brazil’s Mayra Aguiar and Audrey Tcheumeo of France each took Bronze. Aguiar came in as the top-ranked half heavyweight competitor by the International Judo Federation, but Harrison dispatched her in the semifinals.
Harrison becomes just the third American medalist in judo, joining her teammate Marti Malloy, who won Bronze in the women’s lightweight division earlier this week. The other Olympic judo medal earned by an American was a Bronze by Ronda Rousey in 2008. Judo has been an Olympic women’s sport since 1992.