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Mensah-Stock becomes second American women to win gold in freestyle

American Tamyra Mensah-Stock became the second U.S. woman to win a gold medal in freestyle Tuesday at the Olympics. (Tony Rotundo photo courtesy United World Wrestling)

Five years ago, American wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock watched the finals of the women’s freestyle tournament at the Olympic Games from the stands. She won the Olympic Trials in 2016 but the United States had not qualified for the weight class in Rio and she fell short at the Last Chance qualifier that year.

In 2019, Mensah-Stock won the world championship at 68 kilograms (150 pounds), ensuring that the Americans would have a seat at the table in the Tokyo Olympics.

She won the U.S. Olympic Trials in April was so emotional that she had achieved her dream of becoming an Olympian. “My dreams are coming true, one step at a time,” she said in emotional post-match interviews. “I’m not done yet but I am so proud that I did this (qualify for the Olympics.)”

Mensah-Stock got it done Tuesday night in Japan – early Tuesday morning here in Connecticut – by beating Blessing Oborududu of Nigeria, 4-1, to become just the second American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in freestyle.

She joins Helen Maroulis, who won gold in 2016, as the only American women to win at the Olympics. Mensah-Stock becomes the seventh American woman to win an Olympic medal in wrestling since it was added to the Olympic agenda in 2004 at Athens.

American Tamyra Mensah-Stock competes in Tuesday’s gold medal final at the Olympics in Tokyo. (Kadir Caliskan photo courtesy UWW)

Mensah Stock, the No. 1 seed, won a rough-and-tumble battle with the powerful Oborududu, who came in as the No. 2 seed. Mensah Stock scored first on a spin-behind takedown to lead 2-0, but Oborududu was able to get a reversal to close it to 2-1. Mensah Stock added a leg attack takedown later in the first period to make it 4-1 at the break.

There was no scoring in the second period, although the athletes were both aggressive. Oborududu never got close to getting a takedown on Mensah Stock. As the time ticked down, chants of USA, USA went through the arena from the American delegation and it ended with a 4-1 win for Mensah-Stock.

NBC highlights on Mensah-Stock’s win

Mensah Stock’s gold gives the U.S. its second women’s freestyle medal of these Olympics, to go with Adeline Gray’s silver medal at 76 kg on Monday night. This matches the 2004 U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling team which also won two medals.

By making the finals, Oborududu, a three-time Olympian, became the first Nigerian wrestler to secure an Olympic medal, as well as the first African women’s wrestler to reach the Olympic finals.

Mensah Stock was dominant on Monday to qualify for tonight’s finals. In the morning session, she scored a pair of 10-0 technical falls over high-level opponents.

In the first round, she dismantled 2016 Olympic champion Sara Dosho of Japan. In the quarterfinals, Mensah Stock had five takedowns beating two-time World medalist Feng Zhou of China. In the evening session semifinals, she stopped 2018 world champion Alla Cherkasova of Ukraine, 10-4

Mensah Stock was a 2019 world champion in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, and also won a World bronze medal in 2018. She was a two-time WCWA national champion for Wayland Baptist University, and is originally from Katy, Texas.

Bronze medals at 68 kg went to Meerin Zhumanazarova of Kyrgyzstan and Alla Cherkasova of Ukraine.

Stefanowicz not eligible for repechage after Huklek beaten in 87 kg semifinals

The fate of the final U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler in the Tokyo Olympics was determined Tuesday night, as John Stefanowicz (Camp LeJeune, N.C.) was eliminated at 87 kg (192 pounds).

Stefanowicz, also a member of the 2019 U.S. Senior World Team, was defeated in the first round by 2017 U23 world silver medalist Ivan Huklek of Croatia, by a 5-3 margin. Huklek won his quarterfinal match, keeping Stefanowicz’ hopes alive for repechage.

However, in the semifinals, Huklek was beaten by two-time world champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Zhan Beleniuk of Ukraine, 7-1. With this loss, Stefanowicz did not qualify for repechage on Wednesday.

All four of the U.S. Greco-Roman entries have finished their competition, without winning a medal.

Content from USA Wrestling used in this report

2020 Olympic Games
At Tokyo
Women’s freestyle
68 kg – Tamyra Mensah Stock (Colorado Springs, Colo.), gold medal
WIN Sara Dosho (Japan), tech, fall 10-0
WIN Feng Zhou (China), tech. fall 10-0
WIN Alla Cherkasova (Ukraine), 10-4
WIN Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria), 4-1

Greco-Roman results
67 kg – Alejandro Sancho (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
LOSS Artem Surkov (Russia), 10-4

87 kg – John Stefanowicz (Camp LeJeune, N.C.)
LOSS Ivan Huklek (Croatia), 5-3

NBC’s Olympic wrestling telecast schedule

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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