Tamyra Mensah-Stock Becomes 1st U.S. Black Woman To Win Wrestling Gold

by 24USATVAug. 4, 2021, 6 a.m. 24
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U.S. wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock closed out her first Olympics in dominating style Tuesday, winning gold in the women's 68-kilogram freestyle final. She is only the second woman — and the first Black woman — to win an Olympic wrestling gold for the United States.

The top-seeded Mensah-Stock defeated second-seed Blessing Oborududu 4-1 after seizing points with two takedowns in the first period. Neither athlete scored a point in the second period despite Oborududu's increasingly desperate attempts.

By winning silver, Oborududu became the first Nigerian athlete to win an Olympic medal in wrestling.

After the match, Mensah-Stock, 28, commented on the historic elements of her final with Oborududu.

"I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, look at us representing,' " Mensah-Stock said, according to The Associated Press. "It's so freaking awesome. You're making history, I'm making history. We're making history. So it meant a lot."

She also spoke about her desire to inspire Black girls to pursue wrestling and her family's heritage in Ghana, where her father was from. Mensah-Stock lost her father while she was in high school — he died in a car crash coming home from a wrestling meet, according to Team USA.

"He would have been the loudest one here," she said. "He would have been so proud."

Mensah-Stock curled her hands into a heart-shaped gesture immediately after her win, smiling and bowing to the small crowd in the Makuhari Messe Hall outside Tokyo. She then hugged her coaches and grabbed a large U.S. flag, which she held high above her head.

Several times on the mat and on the podium, Mensah-Stock broke into tears.

"I'm feeling very happy and I keep trying not to cry, but it keeps happening," she said, according to a release from Team USA. "I just want to go into a dark room and cry, but I'm crying from joy."

To reach the final, Mensah-Stock, who is from Katy, Texas, blitzed her way through a tough draw.

Her first match was against Sara Dosho of Japan — the 2016 Olympic gold medalist and 2017 world champion. She then moved on to China's Feng Zhou, who pulled out a surprise win against Mensah-Stock in early 2020. Both of those elite opponents failed to score a point against the American in Japan, who beat them each by a 10-0 score.

In her semifinal match, Mensah-Stock faced another former world champion in Alla Cherkasova of Ukraine. After falling behind, she recovered late to win 10-4.

The gold medal caps a long quest for Mensah-Stock, who finished first in U.S. Olympic team trials ahead of the Rio Olympics but was unable to compete because the U.S. had not qualified to earn a spot in her weight class. She traveled to Brazil for the Games but only as a training partner.

It's the second medal for the U.S. women in Tokyo, coming one day after five-time world champion Adeline Gray won silver in the 76-kilogram category. Helen Maroulis, who won Team USA's first gold medal in women's wrestling in 2016, is slated to wrestle late Wednesday morning (local time) in Japan.

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