Carol Huynh won’t be wrestling for gold.
The 31-year-old defending Olympic champion easily won her first two matches Wednesday but lost in the semi-final of the 48-kilogram class to Japan’s Hitomi Obara. Obara grabbed a 2-0 lead then held on for the point victory over Huynh, who will compete for the bronze medal later today.
Montreal’s Martine Dugrenier is also in contention for a bronze in the 63-kg class.
Huynh, with her family cheering her on in the ExCel Centre, had a chance for a later comeback but wasn’t able to take advantage.
“We practice that, ‘Take someone down. You’ve got 15 seconds to score a point,’” said Huynh’s coach Leigh Vierling. “It just didn’t happen. I can’t say enough good things about Hitomi. She’s been a star wrestler on the scene.”
Vierling explained how Obara had tried to make the 2008 Olympic team at 55 kg but lost out to another wrestler.
“We trained to beat her, but it didn’t quite happen today,” Vierling added. “When we were watching the draw, we were watching to see where Japan would pop up. Great attack by Carol at the end, nice and sharp …. If she got the turn, we were going to a third round. Carol's got bronze-medal match tonight, so she’s got to release this and come back ready to tough out another medal.”
Dugrenier, a 32-year-old teacher from Montreal, drew Japan’s Kaori Icho for her first-round fight on Wednesday. The two were tied at the end of the match, so the victory goes to the wrestler who scores the last point. That was Icho.
Dugrenier had to wait through an agonizingly long afternoon to see if Icho would wrestle into the gold medal final, which she has. Now Dugrenier goes into the repechage tournament, akin to a consolation round. If she proceeds through that, she will wrestle for bronze.
Icho had also beat Dugrenier in the semifinals at the 2008 Olympics, then Dugrenier went on to lose a heat-breaker in the repechage to U.S. wrestler Randi Miller. So close to earning bronze back then, she settled for fifth place instead.
Dugrenier is a three-time world champion and three-time runner-up in the 67-kilogram weight class. She had to come down in weight to fight in one of the available women’s Olympic weight classes.