Saori Yoshida is about as dominant as anyone in the international wrestling scene, having won three Olympic gold medals and 13 world championships. Women’s wrestling joined the modern Olympics in 2004, making Yoshida the only gold medalist ever in the 53 kilogram class. The Japanese wrestler had never earned anything less than gold at an Olympics, World Championships, or Asian Games until this afternoon, when she lost the gold medal match to American Helen Maroulis.
Maroulis normally wrestles in the 55 kg weight class, but 55 kg isn’t an Olympic category. So she cut weight, dropped down to the 53 kg class, and dethroned the three-time defending champ 4-1. This is the first gold medal that an American woman has ever earned in Olympic wrestling. Here are the two takedowns that got her the four points she needed to win.
Sweden beating the United States in women’s soccer and Brazil dethroning Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross in beach volleyball were both enormously surprising outcomes. But Maroulis dealing Yoshida her first ever loss in a gold medal match as well as winning the first gold for an American in women’s wrestling feels like an upset of a larger magnitude.