Saori Yoshida (Japan) was looking to join her teammate as the first women to win 4 gold medals in 4 Olympics in any sport. Yoshida had won every World & Olympic Championship since 2002, losing just 2 international matches in this whole span. She entered Rio as the most winning wrestler in history, and already one of the greatest Olympians of all time.
Helen Maroulis was looking to stop this coronation and have one of her own. The 23-year old from Maryland thought she was ready in 2012, but was upset at the Olympic Trials. After a World Championship at the weight class above, if it was Olympic Gold coming home with her it'd have to be against the most accomplished wrestler of all time.
The match started off with a pretty slow pace. Maroulis would give up a passivity point, but she started to push in to Yoshida causing her to move her feet. This led to an underhook and a takedown for Helen to take the 2-1 lead. Maroulis continued to wisely press in the 2nd period controlling the middle. It led to another pushout and caused Yoshida's shots to not have any successful angles. Helen Maroulis won 4-1 and became the first American Woman to win an Olympic Gold medal in wrestling, knocking off the legend.
The day wasn't all positive for the United States, but it was early. Helen had to come from behind to beat a very tough North Korean opponent. The #2 ranked Mattson (Sweden) waited in the semis dominating her way there. Helen destroyed her, picking up a takedown in the opening seconds and never looking back. Up 4-0 in the 2nd she got a 4-point takedown off a high crotch and got the finish for the pin. Mattson would pick up the bronze with a pin in 28 seconds.
Elena Pirozkhova got off to a great start including a 10-7 win over Bulgaria and then the 3-2 upset over defending World Champion Battsetseg (Mongolia). Elena would then drop back to back heartbreaking losses though to Belarus and Kazakhstan to finish 5th.
Perhaps more shocking than Yoshida losing, USA's 3-time World Champion Adeline Gray was poised to cap it off with Olympic gold. Unfortunately, she never got her offense going in the quarterfinal and gave up a defensive 2 in a chest lock at the buzzer. When the Belarussian lost in the semis to Canada, Gray would not get another match in Rio.
The USA Women come back with just one medal, but it was the big one. The "monkey off the back" getting gold is huge and the win over the legend will be something that'll make a great splash. Adeline being upset is a tough pill to swallow, as well as missed opportunities with Haley & Elena. Still though, this is a young team that'll continue to improve with a bright future ahead.
Jordan Burroughs & Daniel Dennis take the mats tomorrow. Prelims start at 9am.
Aug. 18 at Carioca Arena 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
53 kg/116.5 lbs.
Gold – Helen Maroulis (United States)
Silver – Saori Yoshida (Japan)
Bronze – Natalya Sinishin (Azerbaijan)
Bronze – Sofia Mattsson (Sweden)
5th – Betzabeth Arguello (Venezuela)
5th – Xuechun Zhong (China)
7th – Jong Myong Suk (DPR Korea)
8th – Isabelle Sambou (Senegal)
9th- Kararzyna Krawczyk (Poland)
10th – Maria Prevolaraki (Greece)
Gold – Helen Maroulis (United States) dec. Saori Yoshida (Japan), 4-1
Bronze – Natalya Sinishin (Azerbaijan) dec. Betzabeth Arguello (Venezuela), 2-1
Bronze – Sofia Mattsson (Sweden) fall Xuechun Zhong (China), 0:29
63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Gold – Risako Kawai (Japan)
Silver – Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus)
Bronze – Yekaterina Larionova (Kazakhstan)
Bronze – Monika Ewa Michalak (Poland)
5th – Elena Pirozhkova (United States)
5th – Inna Trazhukova (Russia)
7th – Anastasia Grigorjeva (Latvia)
8th – Hafize Sahin (Turkey)
9th- Yulia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine)
10th – Henna Johansson (Sweden)
Gold –Risako Kawai (Japan) dec. Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus), 6-0
Bronze – Yekaterina Larionova (Kazakhstan) fall Elena Pirozhkova (United States), 4:01
Bronze –Monika Ewa Michalik (Poland) dec. Inna Trazhukova (Russia), 6-3
75 kg/165 lbs.
Gold – Erica Wiebe (Canada)
Silver – Guzel Mayurova (Kazakhstan)
Bronze – Fengliu Zhang (China)
Bronze – Ekaterina Bukina (Russia)
5th – Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus)
5th – Annabel Laure Ali (Cameroon)
7th – Adeline Gray (United States)
8th – Yasmine Adar (Turkey)
9th- Aline Da Silva Ferrera (Brazil)
10th – Zsanett Nemeth (Hungary)
Gold – Erica Wiebe (Canada) dec. Guzel Manyurova (Kazakhstan), 6-0
Bronze –Fengliu Zhang (China) dec. Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus), 8-4
Bronze – Ekaterina Bukina (Russia) dec. Annabel Laure Ali (Cameroon), 5-3
U.S. women’s freestyle results
53 kg/116.5 lbs. - Helen Maroulis (Huntington Beach, Calif./Sunkist Kids), Gold
WIN Yulia Khavaldzhy Blahinya (Ukraine), 12-1
WIN Xuechun Zhong (China), 10-0
WIN Myong Suk Jong (DPR Korea), 7-4
WIN Sofia Mattsson (Sweden), Fall 5:24
WIN Saori Yoshida (Japan), 4-1
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Elena Pirozhkova (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury WC), 5th
WIN Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria), 10-7
WIN Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia), 3-2
LOSS Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus), 3-2
LOSS Yekaterina Larionova (Kazakhstan), Fall 4:01
75 kg/165 lbs. - Adeline Gray (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), 7th
WIN Andrea Olaya Gutierrez (Colombia), Fall 1:54
LOSS Vasillisa Marzaliuk (Belarus), 4-1