Entering the gold medal match of the women’s 53 kg (116 lbs.) freestyle wrestling competition, Japan’s Saori Yoshida had never lost a match in the Summer Olympics. With three gold medals, not to mention 13 world championships, to her credit Yoshida is an all-time great in the sport.
But the Olympic run came to an end Thursday afternoon, as American Helen Maroulis beat Yoshida by the final score of 4-1. Trailing 1-0 at the end of the first period, Maroulis scored a two-point takedown in the first minute of the second period. Another two-point score for Maroulis would provide the final margin, with Yoshida unable to make the scoring moves needed to keep her hopes of another gold medal alive.
When Yoshida won her first Olympic gold medal in Athens in 2004, Maroulis was less than a month away from her 13th birthday. And now Maroulis is an Olympic gold medalist, defeating Yoshida to accomplish that goal. With the win, Maroulis is the first American woman to win an Olympic wrestling gold medal.
Taking bronze in the competition were Sweden’s Sofia Mattsson and Azerbaijan’s Natalya Sinishin, with Mattsson losing to Maroulis 5-0 in the semifinal round.