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Tamyra Mensah-Stock becomes 1st US Black woman to win wrestling gold

The Olympian also revealed why she believes her late father would have enjoyed the match.
Stock-Mensah poses with her medal after winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Aug. 3, 2021.JACK GUEZ / AFP via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

On Tuesday, American freestyle wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock made history in Tokyo.

Not only did she take gold for just the second time in Olympic history for Team USA's women's wrestling, Mensah-Stock became the first Black woman to win gold at an Olympic Games in the sport since it was added as an event in 2004.

“These young women are going to see themselves in a number of ways and they’re going to look up there and go, I can do that,” Mensah-Stock told AP. “I can see myself.”

Wrapped in the American flag post-match, the 28-year-old from Katy, Texas was emotional.

Tamyra Stock-Mensah celebrates her gold medal victory against Nigeria's Blessing Oborududu in their women's freestyle 68kg wrestling final match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Aug. 3, 2021.JACK GUEZ / AFP via Getty Images

“I knew I could do it," she told Team USA of her win in the 68kg class. "I knew it would be hard. I prayed I could do it. In my wildest dreams, I knew.”

Mensah-Stock claimed a 4-1 victory over Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu, a detail she said her late father, who was killed in a car crash coming home from one of her meets in high school, would have appreciated.

Stock-Mensah (in red) wrestles Nigeria's Blessing Oborududu (in green) during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.JACK GUEZ / AFP via Getty Images

“He would have been the loudest one here,” she said, adding that it was poetic she wrestled a Nigerian, because her father was from Ghana and the two countries are rivals. “He would have been so proud.”

The 28-year-old added that she hoped to set an example for younger athletes.

“When I first started wrestling I wanted to be an emblem, a light to show younger women that you can be silly, you can be fun and you can be strong, you can be tough and you can be a wrestler,” she said. “You don’t have to be this tough ‘grrrr I’m going to be mean to you (type of person).' I wanted to be that light.”

She told the Guardian that she plans to give most of her award money to her mother, so she can start a food truck.

“I wanted to give my mom $30,000 so she can get a food truck. It’s her dream,” she told the outlet. “My mom’s getting her food truck! She’s going to have a little cooking business. She can cook really, really, really well – barbecue. I don’t eat it because I’m a pescatarian now.”

It was a long road to Tokyo for Mensah-Stock, who originally qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro team only to have to stay home because Team USA did not have a quota place for the event in her weight class.

Post win, when asked about how it felt to finally represent the United States at the Olympics, Mensah-Stock made a heart with her hands.

"It feels amazing. I love representing the U.S." she said. "I freaking love living there, I love it, and I'm so happy I get to represent U-S-A!"

But Mensah-Stock wasn't the only one making history. In taking silver, Oborududu became the first Nigerian athlete to win an Olympic medal in wrestling.

"I’m like, ’Oh my gosh, look at us representing,” Mensah-Stock said. “It’s so freaking awesome. You’re making history, I’m making history. We’re making history. So it meant a lot.”