Tamyra Mensah-Stock‘s first world title also marked unprecedented success for the U.S. women’s wrestling team — three gold medals at a single worlds.
Mensah-Stock, a 26-year-old who agonizingly missed the Rio Olympics, finished her march through the 68kg division by beating Olympic bronze medalist Jenny Fransson of Sweden 8-2 in the final.
She took a victory lap around the mat, carrying the American flag. Her tears didn’t stop flowing after coming down, embracing her coaches and striding into the mixed zone.
“I couldn’t control my feelings,” Mensah-Stock said. “It took about, like, 30 minutes, but I finally calmed down.”
She took out Olympic champion Sara Dosho of Japan 10-1 in the quarterfinals on Thursday as part of a 36-2 romp through the first four rounds to reach the gold-medal match.
Mensah-Stock followed world titles the last two days from countrywomen Jacarra Winchester (55kg, non-Olympic weight) and Adeline Gray (75kg, her U.S. record fifth world title). A women’s division was added to worlds in 1987, and to the Olympics in 2004, but never before had three U.S. women claimed titles at one global meet.
The U.S. earned more women’s world titles this week than any other nation, toppling power Japan one year before it hosts the Olympics.
Mensah-Stock eyes her first Olympics in 2020, despite winning the 2016 Olympic trials. When Mensah-Stock won trials, the U.S. had not yet qualified that quota spot for Rio. Mensah-Stock had three chances to clinch a U.S. Olympic spot at international tournaments, but lost in the quarterfinals, semifinals and semifinals at events where making the final would have earned her place in Rio.
“It told me that I have the potential to be great, but I still have a lot of work to do,” she said in 2017.
She endured, returning to make the 2017 World quarterfinals and the semifinals in 2018, when she came back for a bronze medal.
“Last year I fell short, and I knew I was capable of more,” she said. Her coaches did, too, repeating what her initials stood for before matches. Too Much Stamina. Too Much Speed.
“This year, I proved it,” Mensah-Stock said.
Earlier Friday, four-time world champion Jordan Burroughs gave up the lead with 1.3 seconds left and lost 4-3 in the 74kg semifinals to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov. Burroughs, a 2012 Olympic champion, will wrestle for bronze on Saturday after falling to the defending world champ Sidakov for a second straight year.
Olympic bronze medalist J’Den Cox gave up zero points en route to Saturday’s 92kg final, where he will look to repeat as world champion.
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