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Saturday, September 20, 2014  

Japanese wrestler Yoshida gets golden pearl
TOKYO Japanese wrestling queen Saori Yoshida received a necklace with a gold-coloured pearl on Wednesday for winning a record 13 straight Olympic and world championship gold medals over 10 years.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda handed her the jewellery worth an estimated $20,300 as part of the government’s “People’s Honour Award” given to figures who inspire the nation.

“Here is the golden pearl you requested. It’s 13 millimetres (half-an-inch)(in diameter) because you won 13 straight titles,” Noda told the 30-year-old wrestler, clad in a black kimono, in a ceremony at his executive mansion.

When Noda decided two weeks ago to reward the 55kg-class freestyle wrestler for winning her third straight Olympic gold in August and her 10th consecutive world title in September, Yoshida said she wanted a gold-coloured pearl, in recognition of the pearl-producing region she comes from.

“I really feel so happy that I cannot say a word,” the 156-centimetre Yoshida told reporters after the ceremony.

Asked how long her winning streak will last, she replied: “It will go on as far as it can.” Yoshida earlier said she might aim to compete at the 2020 Olympics if Tokyo wins its bid for the mega event.

With the double victory this year, Yoshida eclipsed Russian Greco-Roman wrestler Alexander Karelin’s record of 12 back-to-back Olympic and world championship titles.

A similar necklace was priced at about 1.6 million yen at Mikimoto’s flagship pearl shop in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza.

Agence France-Presse
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