Mensah-Stock is the first Black woman and the second American woman to take gold in wrestling.
Top-seeded U.S. wrestler Tamrya Mensah-Stock has become the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling.
“I knew I could do it,” she said, according to a blog post from Team USA. “I knew it would be hard. I prayed I could do it. In my wildest dreams, I knew.”
Mensah-Stock is only the second American woman to take gold in wrestling, following Helen Maroulis, who won in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Nigerian Blessing Oborududu, who Mensah-Stock defeated, also made history for her country, becoming the first Nigerian ever to win an Olympic wrestling medal; hers is silver.
Gold medalist Tamyra Mariama Mensah-Stock of Team United States poses with the gold medal during the Women’s Freestyle 68kg medal ceremony on Day 11 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
“After wrestling to get into the final yesterday, I was having a lot of messages, a lot of calls,” Oborududu told Associated Press. “I locked down my phone, because I don’t want to receive any calls, or anything that was really disturbing me. I switched off my phone so I was not in any kind of pressure. I know that I’ve created the record for my country.”
Mensah-Stock commented on the significance of their achievements in a post-competition interview.
“I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, look at us representing,’” she said, according to Associated Press. “It’s so freaking awesome. You’re making history, I’m making history. We’re making history. So it meant a lot.”
The gold medalist celebrated her victory as an American and as an African: Her father is from Ghana, West Africa.
“Well, you’ve got to beat the best to know that you’re the best,” Mensah-Stock said. “And that’s what I keep telling myself. It doesn’t matter the draw. You go out there, and you beat whoever is in front of you because that’s how you tell somebody that you were the best. I’m the bad draw.”
The Tokyo Olympics has seen several record wins for Black athletes — women in particular.
Shot putter Raven Saunders took home a silver medal as an openly gay Black female track and field athlete. On the podium, she crossed her arms in an X, demonstrating “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”
Jamaican track star Elaine Thompson-Herah broke the long-standing Olympic record of Florence Griffith-Joyner in the 100m race, winning gold with a record-breaking time of 10.61 seconds.
She said later, “I think I could have gone faster if I wasn’t pointing and celebrating, really. But to show you that there’s more in store, hopefully, one day I can unleash that time.”
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