History was made on Thursday as Team USA’s Helen Maroulis became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling.
Maroulis overcame arguably the greatest female wrestler of all time, Japan’s Saori Yoshida in the 53 kilogram (117 pounds) weight class. Saori was the three-time defending Olympic champion and had won 13 consecutive world championships prior to her match with Maroulis.
“I’ve dreamed of this my whole life,” Maroulis said in a report by USA Today. “I put it on this pedestal.”
With her first time competing in the Olympics, Maroulis made her dreams come true after seemingly endless amounts of hard work and discipline. The 24-year-old says she sacrificed a lot in order to compete in the Olympics.
“I didn’t go celebrate (at Christmas) with extended family,” she said. “I had to sacrifice a lot of social time.”
In the end, Maroulis made her dreams come true against a legendary opponent.
“I’ve been dreaming about wrestling Saori for so long,” Maroulis said. “She’s a hero. She’s the most decorated wrestler in the sport. It’s such an honor to wrestle her.”