New Delhi: Ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, three-time defending wrestling champion Kaori Icho suffered her first defeat in 13 years, but the Japanese legend has termed it as a "good experience".
Icho, 31, lost to an unheralded 21-year-old Mongolian student Orkhon Purevdorj in the final of the 58kg category event at the Krasnoyarsk Golden Grand Prix event on Friday.
It was her first loss on the mat since a 2003 defeat by American Sara McMan and ended an astonishing run of 189 victories. The unexpected result prompted Japanese officials to play down it, but the 10-time world champion owned up and said: "I couldn`t wrestle my way and this is the outcome. It was a good experience."
Putting things in the right perspective, he added that, "I`m relieved it wasn`t the Olympics. There`s enough time to put things right and I believe she can win her fourth straight Olympic title."
Icho arrived in the international wrestling scene, taking a silver medal in the 2002 Asian Games, and then winning her first world championship a month after that at the age of 18. She has won all three 63 kilogram Olympic freestyle gold medals in a celebrated career.
"I`d like to make this an opportunity to grow ahead of Rio," she confided.
(With Agency inputs)