American Olympic wrestler Helen Maroulis paused briefly to pray Thursday as she walked to the wrestling mat to confront a legendary rival, Japan’s 13-time World Champion and three-time gold medalist Saori Yoshida.
“All I said over and over again was, ‘Christ is in me, I am enough,’ and that was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever said,” the 24-year-old Californian said.
“I don’t need to be perfect. Leading up to training camp, people would say, ‘How did you feel about practice today?’ or, ‘You looked good,’ and I had no answer because I was looking for perfection everywhere. Finally I was like, ‘You know what? I’m not going to find it. So what I have is enough, and I trust God that what I have is enough,’” she said.
On Thursday, Maroulis became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling, overcoming the obstacles of wrestling in a different weight class than she usually did and facing a repeat gold medal winner.
It feels incredible! Hasn't sunk in yet..just thankful for God, my coaches, family, and everyone's support! 🇺🇸🏅 https://t.co/wPcrOkFAf4
— Helen Maroulis (@helen_maroulis) August 19, 2016
Maroulis was overwhelmed as she stood on the podium to wear her medal and see her nation’s flag saluted.
— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) August 19, 2016
“I looked at that flag and I’m like, ‘The American flag represents our country and it stands for so much.’” Maroulis said. “I have this gold medal, but I’m also thinking there are Americans in other countries at war and there’s flags there. It’s just such an honor to be an American, it’s such a blessing. When the anthem plays, how could you not cry?” she said.