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Time to Move On for Judo’s Ogasawara

July 23, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ After losing her bid for an Olympic judo medal, the United States’ Liliko Ogasawara was thinking about giving up the sport.

``I want to take a year break. Who knows after that, but I definitely need to take a break,″ the 23-year-old Ogasawara said. ``I want to finish up college. Perhaps pursue my singing. I want to get involved with the theater.″

Ogasawara, the top U.S. medal hope in judo, lost two matches Monday in the women’s middleweight division and was eliminated from medal contention.

Cho Min-sun of South Korea captured the women’s title, while compatriot Jeon Mi-young took the men’s gold in the same division.

Ogasawara, of Montvale, N.J., won medals at the last two world championships but a hamstring injury in May hampered her training for the Olympics.

``I was little apprehensive going out there knowing that I had not had a normal judo practice since May,″ she said.

Her first opponent was Claudia Zwiers, a Dutch woman she had defeated on her way to both world championship medals.

Zwiers, the European champion, gained partial points with takedowns and controlled Ogasawara, including a key reverse as Ogasawara tried for an inner leg throw.

Ogasawara beat Wu Mei Ling of Taiwan in her second match, but then was eliminated by Wang Xianbo of China. Ogasawara had an early lead over Wang, but was suddenly caught and pinned for the required 25 seconds.

``She had my arm really anchored,″ Ogasawara said. ``There was no way I could get out of there.″

Armen Bagdasarov of Uzbekistan won the men’s silver, while the bronze medals went to Marko Spittka of Germany and Mark Huizinga of the Netherlands.

Aneta Szczepanska of Poland won the women’s silver, while Wang and Zwiers took the bronze.

In the men’s middleweight division, Brian Olson of Tallahassee, Fla., became the first American to win a judo match in the games when he beat Wu Kuo Hui of Taiwan in the first round.

Olson lost to Algimantas Merkevicius of Lithuania in the second round and was eliminated.

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