Japan's Yoshida earns 3rd straight freestyle gold

Japan's Saori Yoshida earned the third gold medal of her Olympic career, winning a decision by points against Canada's Tonya Lynn Verbeek in the 55-kilogram freestyle wrestling division on Thursday.

Yoshida defended her title from the 2004 Athens Games and Beijing four years ago. With the addition of her nine world titles, she matched the record of 12 world-level championships held by Russian Alexander Karelin, a three-time Olympic gold winner in greco-roman wrestling.

"I have taken 12 gold medals and every single medal is important to me. But the medal I got at London 2012 is very important," said Yoshida.

Verbeek, meanwhile, earned a medal in her third straight Olympics, having previously won silver in Athens and a bronze at Beijing.

Bronze medals in the weight class went to Azerbaijan's Yuliya Ratkevich and Colombian Jackeline Renteria Castillo, who won her country's first Olympic Games medal in wrestling with a bronze in 2008.

Russia's Natalia Vorobieva defeated former-five time world champion Stanka Zlateva Hristova of Bulgaria in the final of the 72kg division by fall. Vorobieva gained the gold after previously winning three junior championships.

"My coach told me that I have nothing to lose. He said that I already have the silver medal," noted Vorobieva. "We did not prepare a special strategy or tactics for that match. I just went out to fight."

Hristova, meanwhile, fell short of gold in her third Olympics. She was 12th in Athens and improved enough in four years to take silver at the 2008 Games.

Bronze medals in the 72kg went to Kazakhstan's Guzel Manyurova, a silver medalist in the 2004 Athens Games for Russia, and Spain's Maider Unda.