History was made in the final when Harrison overpowered the No. 42-ranked Gibbons and overcame a British crowd chanting for her opponent. Harrison scored one yuko, a throw that places an athlete on her side worth one point, at the 3:54 mark and another at the 59-second mark. Previously, the best finish by an American in the 78 kg (half-heavyweight) division was ninth by Amy Tong in 2000.
“I didn’t come here for silver,” said Harrison. “I came here for gold. I was just trying to focus on: It’s just another girl. It’s just another tournament. She’s the only girl in your way. You win this and you’re done. I was trying not to realize that it was the finals of the Olympic Games. I went out there and I tried to stay aggressive the whole time. We do a drill at the Pedros where we’re down by a yuko and we have to hustle, hustle, hustle. I just pretended I was down for a yuko, not up by a yuko. I made sure that I imposed my will.”
Harrison plans to celebrate around London with family and her fiancé, Aaron Handy, her training partner back in Ohio and the friend she first confided in about Doyle.
When asked what sight she most wanted to see in London, Harrison smiled, lifted her gold medal, and said, “This.”
Then she acknowledged a desire to visit the set of “Harry Potter.” Upon returning to Massachusetts, Harrison will take her EMT exam and, perhaps, start wedding planning, though she hopes to be busy enjoying a victory lap of sorts and promoting judo.
“I hope [my gold medal] changes America’s perspective on judo,” said Harrison. “I hope to be able to use it to benefit everyone in my sport. I love my sport. It’s the best sport in the world. Hopefully, this will help create that splash of new judo interest.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Shira Springer can be reached at email@example.com.