We learn a lot about sacrifices made by athletes in pursuit of Olympic glory, and new gold medalist Helen Maroulis may take the cake.
Mostly because she hasn’t taken the cake.
Maroulis, 24, beat dominant Japanese legend Saori Yoshida on Thursday to win the first U.S. women’s wrestling Olympic gold in history.
WATCH: Maroulis defeats Yoshida
NBC’s Nick Zaccardi wrote an fascinating post on what she needed to do to get there following a change in Olympic weight divisions.
Her “walking-around weight” is 130 pounds, and she wrestled at 121. But new Olympic rules forced her to keep an extra five pounds off for competition. Her strict diet, given the caliber of athlete and nutritional demands, was insane.
Chicken. Spinach. Some avocado. Measuring everything out. No dressings. Peanut butter was her treat.
“And I don’t even like peanut butter,” she said.
Maroulis skipped the traditional Christmas dinner.
“With wrestling, it’s two hours a day, four hours a day. … Hard practices, and then I’d be like, OK, I have to make sure I don’t eat anything I’m not supposed to for the next six hours, before I go to sleep,” she said. “And then I have to wake up and do it all over again.”
Read the rest of the article for an increased appreciation of her dedication, which included traveling to Japan to train with the best wrestlers in the world. Great writing by Zaccardi.