Viet Nam News
RIO DE JANEIRO – American Helen Maroulis denied Saori Yoshida a fourth straight Olympic wrestling gold with a stunning upset of the Japanese great in the 53kg final at Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.
Maroulis, a reigning world champion competing in her first Olympics, made the United States’ first-ever women’s wrestling gold one to remember with her victory over the 13-time world champion, calling it "an honor" just to meet Yoshida on the mat.
"I’ve been dreaming about wrestling Saori for so long," Maroulis said.
"She’s a hero. She’s the most decorated wrestler in the sport. It’s such an honour to wrestle her."
Maroulis said she didn’t "waste time" comparing her own credentials to Yoshida’s.
"I just knew that all the girls here today worked really hard to get here. They made all the sacrifices and anyone can win it. That’s what I told myself.
"I just didn’t want to look at Goliath and get scared."
Yoshida led 1-0 after the first period, but the American produced two takedowns in the second to earn a 4-1 victory on points.
Bronze went to Azerbaijan’s Natalya Sinishin and Sovia Magdalena Mattson of Sweden.
Yoshida, who had lost only two prior bouts over the last 14 years, was trying to join teammate Kaori Icho as the only wrestlers to win four gold medals, Icho achieving the feat on Wednesday with a 58kg triumph.
Yoshida said it was too soon to say if she’d be back to try again in Tokyo in 2020.
"I haven’t decided yet," she said.
One night after Japan swept all three women’s wrestling golds on offer at Carioca Arena, Risako Kawai gave Japan a fourth gold with victory over Mariya Mamashuk of Belarus in the title bout of the freestyle 63kg class.
Yekaterina Larionova of Kazakhstan and Monika Ewa Michalik of Poland claimed bronze.
Canada’s Erica Wiebe won the 75kg gold, defeating 2004 Athens silver medallist Guzel Manyurova of Kazakhstan in the gold medal bout.
Wiebe, whose Olympic dreams were stoked when she served as a training partner for Canada’s Olympians in London in 2012, captured the second gold medal for a Canadian woman wrestler, after Carolyn Huynh in Beijing in 2008.
"I was a training partner in London and I snuck up onto the mats to see what it was like and it was like the same mats that I trained on everyday," Wiebe said. "I knew I could be there in four years. It hasn’t been easy, but it is amazing."
China’s Zhang Fengliu and Russian Ekaterina Bukina claimed bronze. -- AFP