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Campbell got no breaks in her first Olympic experience
LONDON, England — If Kelsey Campbell wanted to win an Olympic medal in her first Games experience, the 121-pound women’s freestyle wrestler knew she wasn’t going to get any help from Olympic officials.
She knew that when she drew Japan’s legendary Saori Yoshida of Japan in the first round … and eventually lost that match in the ExCel Center to the eventual three-time Olympic champion who sent the American wrestler to the repechage (consolation) bracket.
And Campbell, a native of Oregon, learned she would not get an special breaks in her consolation bout when Azerbaijan’s Yuliva Ratkevich scored a somewhat controversial call and eventually eliminated the American wrestler.
Ratkevich got on the board first with a pushout off an inside single at the 1:14 mark. Campbell nearly had pushout at 1:59 on Ratkevich who stepped outside the circle of the mat. However, Ratkevich hit a reverse gut and was given two points as final buzzer sounded. The American staff challenged the call, but it was denied and the Ratkevich was given the fourth point for the U.S. losing the challenge.
Ratkevich successfully countered a Campbell shot 12 seconds into the second period for the only point of the period, advancing her to the bronze-medal bout.
“I can be upset about that or I can just recognize the fact that I gave up a point and allowed myself to be in the the situation,” said 26-year-old who dropped down to 55 kilos this Olympic year after competing in the last two World Championships at 59 kilos . “When you’re down a p0int, there’s a reason you’re down. It should never come to that where it’s an official making a decision. I can’t be frustrated. It’s not like we went to a clinch. Everything happened in regulation. You just can’t make excuses.”
“(Ratevich’s) foot was out,” said U.S. national coach Terry Steiner, who saw his four women Olympians — including bronze medalist Clarissa Chun (48 kilos) and Elena Pirozhkova (63 kilos) on Wednesday — combined to go 3-5 over two days. “I think they left it the way it was because (Ratkevich) started the action right after it. We can’t leave matches up to those kinds of things. Whenever you’re leaving things in the hands of something else, you’re bound to be disappointed.”
In Campbell’s 1-0, 1-0 loss to Yoshida, the Japanese star won the tactical first period when she scored a defensive takedown at the :48 second mark as Campbell shot in on a double with her head down, winning 1-0.
In the second period, Yoshida was able to push Campbell off the mat after driving in on an inside single just over a minute into the period.
“You always say you have to be ready for the first one,” Campbell said. “But that’s the true test. I was resolved about it. I prepared for her. There was nothing else I could have done. Sometimes you get “that” person the first round. I would have liked to think that no matter who I got that I would have been just as focused. I wish it would have gone the other way. But it’s done and I can’t get it back.”
Fortunately for Campbell, Yoshida won her next two matches to advance to the finals and gave Campbell a second chance.
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