Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Ano Liosia Olympic Hall, Ano Liossia
Date Started: August 22, 2004
Date Finished: August 23, 2004
Format: Round-robin pools, winner of each pool advanced to semi-finals. Runners-up in each pool advanced to classification round for 5/6 places.
Japan’s Kaori Icho had won the 2002-03 World Championships and was favored. Canadian Christine Nordhagen had been World Champion in 1997-98 and 2001, but she had moved up to the heavyweight division by 2004. Icho made it to the final where she faced American Sara McMann, 2003 Pan American Games Champion, who she had beaten in the final of the 2003 Worlds. McMann took a 2-0 lead in the final, but Icho kept chipping away and scored with 21 seconds left to lead 3-2, the final margin. Icho’s sister, Chiharu, had earlier won a silver medal in flyweight wrestling, and would repeat that finish at the 2004 Olympics.
Kaori Icho would become the dominant wrestler in this class, rivalling her countrywoman, Saori Yoshida in lightweight, as the greatest female wrestler in the early years of the sport. Icho would win Olympic gold again in 2008 and 2012, and win nine World Championships between 2002-14. McMann also continued to compete, winning bronze medals at the 2005 and 2007 Worlds, and another Pan Am gold in 2007. She failed to make the 2008 Olympic team and then turned professional and began competing in mixed martial arts.
|2||Sara McMann||23||United States||USA||Silver|