United States’ Tamyra Mensah-Stock became the first Black woman to win gold in wrestling when she defeated Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu 4-1 in the women’s freestyle 68kg wrestling final.
Mensah-Stock scored two points off a takedown about a minute in, however Oborududu was able to escape and earn a point. Mensah-Stock earned another two points on a takedown with three and a half minutes left, but that was the only points awarded for the rest of match.
“Yes, 100%. I knew I could do it,” Mensah-Stock said on winning an Olympic gold medal. “I knew it would be hard. I prayed I could do it. In my wildest dreams, I knew I could do it.”
The American dominated the competition en route to a gold medal. She first beat Japan’s Sara Dosho 10-0 VSU, who was the defending gold medal winner in the event. The native of Katy, Texas, followed that with a win against China’s Zhou Feng 10-0.
Mensah-Stock took down Ukrainian wrestler Alla Cherkasova 10-4 in the semifinals to give her the chance at the gold.
Mensah-Stock has faced her fair share of adversity. She won the 68kg category at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2016 but still failed to qualify for a spot on the team at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She also lost her father in high school.
“He would have been the loudest one here,” Mensah-Stock said through tears of joy on what her father’s reaction would have been. “He would be so proud. He would be so happy. He’s from Ghana too .. he was like enemies with Nigeria so it’s kind of poetic I had to wrestle a Nigerian in the finals.”
Woman’s wrestling has only been featured at the Olympics since 2004 and Mensah-Stock is only the second American woman to win gold in a wrestling event and the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling history.
She hopes that her win can help pave the way for other women, especially Black girls, to compete in wrestling.
“It means that they see someone like themselves on that podium,” Mensah-Stock said as she was literally jumping for joy. “Someone like Helen [Maroulis] on that podium showing them just because you’re a female it doesn’t mean you cant accomplish the biggest of goals. And being an Olympic champ is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life. And I can say it’s well worth it.”
Rounding out the event, Oborududu took the silver, while Cherkasova and Kryzygstan’s Meerim Zhumanazarova each won bronze.