Meet Yui Susaki, a 24-year-old Japanese female wrestler with a dozen gold medals under her belt who has been dominating international wrestling competitions.
At 22 years old, Susaki dominated the women’s freestyle 50 kilograms competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics without losing a single point.
Susaki’s jaw-dropping performance at the biggest sporting stage in the world began when she defeated Mongolian wrestler Namuuntsetseg Tsogt Ochir 10-0. Her astonishing performance continued into the quarterfinals, where she bested Ecuador’s Lucia Yepez Guzman 10-0, followed by Rio 2016 silver medallist Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan 11-0.
The Japanese wrestler’s undefeated reign at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ended with another 10-0 sweep against China’s Sun Yanan in the grand finals held at the Makuhari Messe Hall.
Born in Matsudo, a city in Chiba Prefecture, on June 30, 1999, Susaki has been competing professionally since her international debut at the 2014 Cadet World Championships in Snina, Slovakia, in the 43-kilogram (approximately 95 pounds) category.
She then continued her reign in the Cadet World Championships for two years in a row, taking home the 46 kilogram (approximately 101 pounds) and 49 kilogram (approximately 108 pounds) world titles in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
After that, Susaki jumped straight from the junior circuit up to the senior-level Ivan Yarygin in 2017 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, where she bested five opponents with a total score of 48-0 to get her first senior-level gold medal.
Before making her World Championships debut in Paris in 2017, Sasuki reportedly stopped over at the Asian Championships in New Delhi, India, that same year to add another gold medal in her growing list of top awards.
Susaki continued her show of dominance on the mat by going 5-0 in the 48 kilogram category and earning a total score of 53-8 in New Delhi.
Although Susaki did not make Japan’s Asian Games and Asian Championship teams in 2018, she still competed in the 2018 Junior World Championships in Trnava, Slovakia, where she received a gold medal the same year she took home another World Championships title at Budapest, Hungary.
Her gold medal run continued with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021, another World Championships title in Belgrade, Siberia, in 2022 and her U23 World Wrestling Championships title in Pontevedra, Spain, that same year. She also won a gold medal at the 2023 Zagreb Open last February in Zagreb, Croatia.
In her entire wrestling career, Susaki has only lost three times to date, with her most recent loss being in the 2019 World Championships playoffs.
The only person to defeat Susaki on the mat since high school, Japan’s Yuki Irie managed to stop Susaki on her track to receiving a third straight world title and a shot at being a part of the official Japanese team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at that time by defeating her 6-1.
Irie’s victory was quickly put to an end when she lost to Sun in the 2019 World Championships quarterfinals 13-12, opening the door for Susaki to achieve her Olympics ambition.
Susaki eventually qualified for the Olympics after winning the women’s freestyle wrestling 50kg at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in April 2021.
Besides her jaw-dropping 72-0 international record, Sasuki also became the first person to win a “Grand Slam” in wrestling, meaning she had won titles in the four women’s freestyle wrestling categories, notably the schoolgirls (U15), cadets (U17), Juniors (U20) and seniors (U23).
Speaking to United World Wrestling, Susaki said that her two predecessors, Haruna Okuno and Masako Furuichi, had also won their age group titles, but having an Olympic gold medal to boot is unheard of in Japan.
I always knew about [the Grand Slam]. There were two of my predecessors who won four [age-group] titles, but no one in the wrestling world had added the fifth title of the Olympics. I wanted to make history, so I was definitely going to enter this year. I knew [the U23] would be the first and last time.
As for what the future holds for Sasuki, the Japanese wrestler told United World Wrestling that she is aiming to defend her Olympics gold medal at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
To me, the Paris Olympics is a special tournament. I want to see what the scenery looks like when you win a second Olympic gold. I want to know what is the spectacular view. I am looking forward to that. And when I became a senior world champion for the first time, it was in Paris. I feel I have a destiny with the Paris Olympics.