Dominique Parrish took gold in her senior world wrestling championships debut, giving the U.S. its first title of the competition in Belgrade, and an unexpected one.
Parrish, 25, beat Mongolian Batkhuyagiin Khulan 4-2 in Wednesday’s 53kg final, capping a remarkable run as the No. 7 seed.
“Indescribable,” Parrish said while wrapping herself in an American flag. “It doesn’t feel real, but it is real, so that’s pretty f—ing cool.”
The bracket lacked all three Olympic medalists and 2021 World champion Akari Fujinami of Japan, the 18-year-old phenom who withdrew last week due to a foot injury.
“She’s the target, right?” Parrish said of Fujinami. “We’re going to pick ’em apart and beat ’em.”
Parrish was eliminated before the finals of last year’s Olympic Trials, went to Tokyo as a training partner for an Olympian and then lost in the quarterfinals of the 2021 World Championships team trials.
“Definitely was like, I don’t know if I love this sport anymore,” said Parrish, who previously competed in three junior world championships with a best finish of fifth.
Now, after changing training locations, she joins an exclusive recent list of U.S. women to win a world title at an Olympic weight: Helen Maroulis and Tamyra Mensah-Stock, who also own Olympic gold medals, and Adeline Gray, a six-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist.
Also Wednesday, Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Hildebrandt earned her third world championships medal, bronze in the 50kg division. Hildebrandt scored technical falls in all three of her wins over the last two days. Her lone defeat came in the semifinals to Dolgorjavyn Otgonjargal of Mongolia.
“When you think about getting ready for the world championships, you don’t envision the preparation that I had. It was rough, mentally,” said Hildebrandt, who still seeks her first global title. “I have an ultimate goal, still, and this is all good feedback for that. Unfortunately, this sport can be really hard, and it stings a lot. It makes me doubt what I’m doing a lot, but in the end I think that’s what’s making me such a great wrestler.”
Japan’s Yui Susaki pinned Otgonjargal in 83 seconds in the final, extending her undefeated international record that now includes an Olympic gold medal and three world titles.
Susaki, 23, didn’t concede a point at the Tokyo Games or in Belgrade over the last two days. All of her three losses dating to 2010 (when she was in fifth grade) came domestically to Yuki Irie, who is six years older, according to United World Wrestling.
American Mallory Velte earned bronze in the non-Olympic 65kg class.
On Thursday at worlds, Mensah-Stock and Maroulis wrestle in gold-medal finals, as does fellow American Amit Elor, a world junior champion in her first senior worlds.
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