RIO DE JANEIRO - Helen Maroulis claimed the first wrestling gold for the U.S. women in the 2016 Rio Games in a match-up she spent her whole life training for.
She started her wrestling career as a sparring partner for her brother. When she began competing herself, she went 1-30 in her first season.
The 24-year-old won in the 53 kg weight class, defeating three-time defending Olympic champion and 13-time world champion Saori Yoshida of Japan.
As time expired with Maroulis ahead 4-1, she dropped to her knees and started bawling. She covered her mouth with her hand in disbelief. Then she climbed into the stands to embrace coaches and friends.
Maroulis had previously won gold at the 2015 world championships in Las Vegas in the 55 kg division. This was her first time competing in an Olympic Games.