World champion Iris Smith wins award from Sportswomen of Colorado

By Gary Abbott | Feb. 08, 2006, 2:33 p.m. (ET)
2005 World Champion Iris Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) was announced as an award winner by the Sportswomen of Colorado, which annually recognizes outstanding female athletes from Colorado for their achievements.

Smith will be one of 45 award winners from the organization, which will be hosting its 32nd annual banquet at the Marriott Tech Center in Denver, Colo., March 12. Smith was recognized for the top performance in wrestling for the year.

Smith is a Sargeant in the U.S. Army, based at Fort Carson, Colo. She is a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program. She is also a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete.

Smith captured a gold medal at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. in freestyle wrestling at the World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Sept. 30. It was the only gold medal for the United States at the competition, which included all three Olympic styles of the sport (men's freestyle, women's freestyle, men's Greco-Roman). Smith was one of four U.S. women to win a medal, and helped lead the United States to a third-place finish in the women's team standings.

Smith won four bouts to capture the title. She opened with an impressive 3-1, 1-0 victory over Stanka Zlateva of Bulgaria. In the quarternfinals, Smith beat Agnieszka Wieszczek of Poland, 2-0, 6-0. Her semifinals win was over Anita Schaetzle of Germany, 3-1, 2-0.

Smith pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the entire week, beating five-time World Champion Kyoko Hamaguchi of Japan, 3-1, 1-1, 1-0 in the finals. Smith gained the match-winning point 50 seconds into the third period when both wrestlers scrambled out-of-bounds. She became only the fourth U.S. women's wrestler to ever win a World title. Smith was seventh in the 2000 World Championships, her only previous World appearance for the United States.

She qualified for the U.S. World Team by winning the World Team Trials in Ames, Iowa in June, defeating Ali Bernard (New Ulm, Minn./Univ of Regina) in the Championship Series. It was her third career World Team Trials victory. Smith also won her fourth career U.S. Nationals title with a victory in Las Vegas, Nev. in May, pinning Bernard in the gold medal finals in the second period.

At the 2005 World Cup in Clermont Ferrand, France in May, Smith claimed a bronze medal. Her only loss in the tournament was to five-time World champion Hamaguchi in the dual meet against Japan. She won her match against opponents from Russia and Venezuela.

Smith is originally from Albany, Ga., where she started her wrestling career at Darsey Private School.

Ceal Barry, the former Univ. of Colorado women's basketball coach, will be the guest speaker at the banquet.

"The collection of the best athletes in the state of Colorado involves girls and women of so many different ages," said Barry to the Denver Post. "That's special. I'm not sure any other states do it as well as Sportswomen of Colorado."

For information on Sportswomen of Colorado, visit their webpage at:
http://www.sportswomenofcolorado.org/

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