Greek-American wrestler Helen Maroulis won a bronze medal for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.
Maroulis competed in the freestyle 57kg category of women’s wrestling and managed to secure another Olympic medal for the US.
Maroulis competed against Khongorzul Boldsaikhan of Mongolia. The final score was 11 (SUP) for Maroulis and 0 for Boldsaikhan.
The 30-year-old wrestling champion had previously won gold in the 57kg women’s freestyle at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.
She had advanced to the semis in Tokyo after defeating Ukrainian Tetyana Kit 8-0 last week.
How Helen Maroulis recovered to compete in Tokyo Olympics
Despite feeling disappointed with having to compete in the semifinal, rather than the final, Maroulis expressed gratitude for the chance to compete at all in Tokyo this year.
The 2016 gold medalist had experienced a series of serious injuries – including a concussion – that held her preparation back and made her doubtful of her ability to appear at the Olympics again at all. Maroulis credits the extra year leading up to Tokyo for her recovery.
“If you told me a year ago that I was going to feel this healthy today, I just — I would have probably not have believed you,” she said. “So to be here like this is like – I’m so grateful.”
Risako Kawai wrestled Iryna Kurachkina of Belarus to win the gold medal in women’s wrestling for Japan.
Maroulis grew up in Maryland, but her father is Greek. He was raised on the island of Kalamos before coming to America at the age of 12. Speaking with Greek Reporter in 2016 after her gold medal win, Maroulis expressed her love for Greek American culture and said it was her “New Year’s resolution to become fluent in Greek.”
“I love the Greek-American community. It’s nice. My dad and I are going to eat some Greek food today, so that is always fun.”
Who is Maroulis?
Maroulis was born in Rockville, Maryland in 1991. She attended Magruder High School for three years, where as a freshman she became the first female wrestler to place at the Maryland state wrestling championships.
She was also was named the ”Most Outstanding Wrestler” in a tournament by pinning the senior boy who had won that title the year before, all on her way to 99 high school career victories.
Apart from being an Olympian, Maroulis has been a gold medalist at the 2015 World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, and a gold medalist at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Her grandparents and father emigrated to the United States from the Greek island of Kalamos in the Ionian Sea. They left Greece in the 1960s.
Maroulis visited her father’s island a few weeks after her victory at Rio and was given an award by the local community.