The Open Mat announces Patricia Miranda medal for WCWA competitors

By Alex Steen, The Open Mat | Jan. 19, 2018, 12:29 p.m. (ET)
The growth of women’s wrestling, at all levels, continues to be one of the best ongoing stories in our sport. The Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) is expected to see more teams than ever before competing at the national tournament in less than a month with even more programs coming on board next season.

The bid to gain emerging sport status with the NCAA has garnered support from many corners and is an important step in the growth of women’s college wrestling. It is an exciting time for the sport and we here at The Open Mat (TOM) want to do our part.

The Open Mat is proud to announce that we will be awarding the Patricia Miranda Medal annually to one outstanding WCWA athlete beginning at the conclusion of this season. This award will endeavor to identify the most deserving wrestler using four criteria: record, dominance, past credentials, and additional accomplishments.

At the conclusion of the 2018 WCWA Championships, February 9th and 10th in Oklahoma City, a panel of voters will cast their ballots to determine who will be our inaugural award winner.

Patricia Miranda, the inspiration for this award, is the daughter of Brazilian immigrants. She took up wrestling at a time when female wrestlers were even more rare than they are today, joining the boys' team at Saratoga High School in California.

She would go on to compete at Stanford, as she puts it “the best school I could get into that also had a wrestling team”, making her way into the line-up at 125 pounds during her senior season.

During that time, she earned a master’s degree and was accepted into law school at Yale. However, Miranda has also become one of the top women in the sport, winning silver medals at the World Championships in 2000 and 2003. When the announcement was made that women’s wrestling would be included in the 2004 Olympic Games, she had a decision to make.

When Yale confirmed they were willing to defer her enrollment, ensuring she would be able to train for the Olympics without giving up her spot in the prestigious program, Patricia’s path was clear.

She earned one of four spots on Team USA and headed to Athens, Greece, with dreams of a gold medal. As so often happens at that level, it didn’t all go according to plan.

Miranda reached the semi-finals, but was beaten by eventual 48 kg gold medalist Iryna Merleni of Ukraine. With her ultimate goal suddenly out of reach, Patricia had to refocus. She would take part in the first medal match in women’s wrestling Olympic history just hours later.

An early throw by Angelique Berthenet of France put the American behind, but Miranda stormed back to win, 12-4, clinching her spot in the history of the sport.

While she would go on to earn a bronze medal at the 2006 World Championships as well, Patricia was beginning to transition out of the sport. She graduated from Yale in 2007 and the daughter of Brazilian immigrants now specializes in immigration law, helping qualified candidates attain asylum in the United States.

Her continued commitment to principled living speak well of, as she says, “the character revelation and building that college wrestling can help young people obtain.”

It is our hope that with this award, we can recognize one deserving WCWA wrestler each year that embodies that spirit.