Update: Olympic champ Maroulis wins second World gold with dominance, Leathers gets bronze at Worlds

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 23, 2017, 2:46 p.m. (ET)
Helen Maroulis celebrates with the U.S. flag after winning gold medal at 58 kg at World Championships in Paris. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

PARIS, France – Olympic champion Helen Maroulis (New York, N.Y./Sunkist Kids) added to her legacy among the greats in American wrestling, claiming her third straight World or Olympic gold medal with a victory at 58 kg/128 lbs. at the World Championships at the AccorHotels Arena on Wednesday.

She dominated 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Marwa Amri of Tunisia in the finals, showing spectacular technique on the way to an 11-0 technical fall in the gold-medal finals.

The gold medals were all at different weight classes, with a World gold medal in 2015 at 55 kg/121 lbs., an Olympic gold medal at 53 kg/116.5 lbs. in 2016 at the Rio Games, and now a 2017 World gold medal at 58 kg/128 lbs.

Maroulis had one of the most dominant performances in American history, not allowing a single point in five matches while earning five technical falls with a combined 53-0 score.

“I felt great. I reminded myself that I love this and I was healthy for another year. I had a lot of injuries after taking seven months off before coming back. To be here and to be healthy, it’s amazing. My coaches, Valentin, Charles, Eric and Andy, so many people, my sponsors Sunkist, the NYC RTC, the Barrys, Kim, Art. They are supporting me and Valentin on this journey, it’s amazing. The women’s program with Terry Steiner trusted me to take time off when I needed it and to come back when I was ready. I am really grateful for everyone’s support,” Maroulis said.

In the finals, right off the bat, Maroulis hit a footsweep on Amri and dropped her to back, almost securing a quick fall. That move opened the floodgates, as Maroulis followed with a takedown, then forced a stepout for a 7-0 lead. She added another takedown and closed out the technical fall with a gutwrench turn.

“I didn’t think about anything I do. I just hit what I feel was there. That was there, and I was really hoping to get the pin, because I re-tore my thumb again, so it was like, let’s end this now. It was fun to wrestle, really fun,” said Maroulis.

It was Maroulis’ fifth career World or Olympic medal, to go along with her 2016 Olympic gold, 2015 World title, 2012 World silver medal and 2014 World bronze medal.

Maroulis tore up the field in the morning session, scoring four technical falls and outscoring her opponents 42-0 in the matches. The opponents she dispatched were Hanbit Kim of Korea, Elin Nillson of Sweden, Yessica Ovieda Perez of the Dominican Republic and Michelle Fazzari of Canada in order.

One of the greatest women’s college wrestlers, Maroulis was a four-time WCWA national champion, winning three for Simon Fraser and one for Missouri Baptist.

2015 Junior World bronze medalist Becka Leathers (Choctaw, Okla./Titan Mercury WC) won her first Senior World medal on her first try, defeating 2017 European champion Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria) in the 55 kg/121 lbs. bronze-medal bout, 4-2.

In the first period, Leathers was put on the shot clock, but quickly responded with a takedown and a turn for a 4-0 lead. In the second period, Leathers was put on the shot clock again, but this time could not score, making the score 4-1. In the closing seconds, Dudova forced Leathers to step out, making the final score 4-2 in favor of Leathers.

An age-group star out of Choctaw, Okla., Leathers won a WCWA college national title for Oklahoma City as a freshman. She has since become a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete.

This morning, Leathers opened with a pin over Ramona Galambos of Hungary, but was beaten in her second match by 2016 Cadet World champion Haruna Okuno of Japan, 8-0. When Okuno reached the finals, Leathers was drawn back into repechage, where she registered a 13-2 technical fall over Carola Rainero of Italy to reach the medal rounds.

“I am just happy. It is a lot of work put in, a lot of time put in by my coaches and my teammates. This is what we do it for. I was very confident. I said it all year in interviews, as soon as I moved to the OTC, I was going to make that World Team and medal, and that is what I did today,” said Leathers.

The other two U.S. wrestlers competing on Wednesday finished 0-1 and were not eligible for repechage: Mallory Velte (Sacramento, Calif./Titan Mercury WC) at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. and Victoria Francis (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury WC) at 75 kg/163 lbs. Both were competing in their first Senior World Championships.

The U.S. is right in the hunt in the team standings after the first day, standing in third place with 18 points, behind first-place team Japan with 21 points and second place Belarus with 20 points. Four more weight classes will be contested on Thursday, the final day for women’s freestyle competition.

The other individual champions on Wednesday night in women’s freestyle were Haruna Okuno of Japan at 55 kg/121 lbs., Orkhon Purevdorj of Mongolia at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. and Yasemin Adar of Turkey at 75 kg/165.5 lbs. All three women won their first Senior World titles.

Okuno, a 2016 Cadet World champion defeated 2015 World bronze medalist Odynayo Adekuoroye of Nigeria in a tight finals, 5-4. Tied at 1-1 at the break, Okuno scored the next four points on a pair of takedowns. A late Adekuoroye takedown was too little, too late. Adekuoroye was attempting to become the first African athlete to win a World title in wrestling.

Purevdorj, who was seventh in the Rio Olympic Games, defeated 2014 World champion Yulia Tkach of Ukraine in the finals. Purevdorj scored a key takedown early in the second period to extend her lead to 4-1 and after a two-and-two exchange to make it 6-3, she shut down Tkach.

Marzaliuk was leading 4-2 late in the bout, when there was a scramble. Officials gave Adar two points, but Marzaliuk challenged the call. The call was upheld, giving one more point to Adar, making the final score, 5-4. Adar, the 2016 and 2017 European champion, won her first World medal, after having been fifth in the World Championships two times. Marzaliuk boasts three World bronze medals in her career and now has added a silver medal.

Watch all of the action at the World Championships in the USA on TrackWrestling. Women’s freestyle concludes on Thursday, and men’s freestyle follows on Friday and Saturday.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Paris, France, August 23


Women's freestyle results


55 kg/121 lbs.
Gold - Haruna Okuno (Japan)
Silver - Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria)
Bronze – Becka Leathers (United States)
Bronze – Irina Kurachkina (Belarus)
5th - Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria)
5th - Mathilde Riviere (France)
7th - Mariia Gurova (Russia)
8th - Davaachimeg Erkhembayar (Mongolia)
9th - Lalita (India)
10th - Marina Sedneva (Kazakhstan)
Gold - Haruna Okuno (Japan) dec. Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria), 5-4
Bronze – Irina Kurachkina (Belarus) dec. Mathilde Riviere (France), 9-1
Bronze – Becka Leathers (United States) dec. Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria), 4-2

58 kg/128 lbs.
Gold - Helen Maroulis (United States)
Silver - Marwa Amri (Tunisia)
Bronze – Michelle Fazzari (Canada)
Bronze –Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan)
5th - Ningning Rong (China)
5th - Elin Nilsson (Sweden)
7th - Yessica Oviedo Perez (Dominican Republic)
8th - Iryna Khariv (Ukraine)
9th - Aminat Adeniyi (Nigeria)
10th - Giedre Blekaityte (Lithuania)
Gold - Helen Maroulis (United States) tech. fall Marwa Amri (Tunisia), 11-0
Bronze – Michelle Fazzari (Canada) dec. Elin Nilsson (Sweden), 7-0
Bronze –Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan) dec. Ningning Rong (China), 6-5

63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Gold - Orkhon Purevdorj (Mongolia)
Silver - Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine)
Bronze –Valeria Lazinskaya (Russia)
Bronze – Jackeline Renteria Castillo (Colombia)
5th - Hafize Sahin (Turkey)
5th - Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria)
7th - Henna Johansson (Sweden)
8th - Yukako Kawai (Japan)
9th - Veranika Ivanova (Belarus)
10th - Lais Nunes de Oliveira (Brazil)
Gold - Orkhon Purevdorj (Mongolia) dec. Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine), 6-3
Bronze –Valeria Lazinskaya (Russia) inj. dft. Hafize Sahin (Turkey)
Bronze – Jackeline Renteria Castillo (Colombia) dec. Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria), 6-5

75 kg/165 lbs.
Gold - Yasemin Adar (Turkey)
Silver - Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus)
Bronze –Hiroe Suzuki (Japan)
Bronze –Justina Di Stasio (Canada) pin
5th - Epp Mae (Estonia)
5th - Paliha (China)
7th - Andrea Olaya Gutierrez (Colombia)
8th - Pooja (India)
9th - Urtnasan Gan Ochir (Mongolia)
10th - Aiperi Medet Kyzy (Kyrgyzstan)
Gold - Yasemin Adar (Turkey) dec. Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus), 5-4
Bronze –Hiroe Suzuki (Japan) dec. Epp Mae (Estonia), 6-0
Bronze –Justina Di Stasio (Canada) pin Paliha (China), 4:36

U.S. women’s performances

55 kg/121 lbs. - Becka Leathers, Choctaw, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC), bronze medal
WIN Ramona Galambos (Hungary), pin
LOSS Haruna Okuno (Japan), 8-0
WIN Carola Rainero (Italy), tech. fall 13-2
WIN Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria), 4-2

58 kg/127.5 lbs. - Helen Maroulis, New York, N.Y. (Sunkist Kids), gold medal
WIN Hanbit Kim (Korea), tech. fall 11-0
WIN Elin Nilsson (Sweden), tech. fall 10-0
WIN Yessica Ovieda Perez (Dominican Republic), tech. fall 11-0
WIN Michelle Fazzari (Canada), tech. fall 10-0
WIN Marwa Amri (Tunisia), tech. fall 10-0

63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Mallory Velte, Sacramento, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC), dnp/14th
LOSS Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria), 10-2

75 kg/165 lbs. - Victoria Francis, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Titan Mercury WC), dnp/13th
LOSS Gulmaral Yerkebayeva (Kazakhstan), 10-3

Team Standings after day one
1. Japan 21
2. Belarus 19
3. USA 18
4. Nigeria 17
5. Turkey 16
5. Canada 16
7. Mongolia 15
8. Ukraine 12
8. Russia 12
8. Colombia 12
8. China, 12