The United States had never won a gold medal in the sport of judo since it first became an Olympic sport in 1964. That changed on Thursday at the 2012 London Olympics when Kayla Harrison won the gold in women's 78 kilogram judo, the first ever gold medal for the Americans in that event.
An underdog through most of her recent matches, the 2010 world champion beat Great Britain's Gemma Gibbons by yuko in the final round. Prior to that she upset Brazil's Mayra Aguiar to advance.
Harrison's story is one of the most inspiring of all at this summer's Olympic games. She was abused by her judo coach as a youth, but redoubled her commitment to the sport. She moved to Wakefield, Mass., to join a premier judo program and focus on the sport as a means of healing.