Rio 2016: Wrestling great Yoshida stunned as Maroulis wins gold


Helen Maroulis pulled off one of the great upsets in Olympic history Thursday, stunning the nearly unbeatable Japanese champion Saori Yoshida to win gold.

Maroulis won 4-1 on points to take the title in the under 53 kilogram weight class and win the first-ever Olympic gold for the United States in women's wrestling.

The loss was only Yoshida's third in 14 years of competition and she had never been beaten at an Olympics, World Championships or Asian Games.

Maroulis was down 1-0 after the first three-minute period due to a passivity warning, but a takedown early in the second gave her a 2-1 lead and she would not relinquish it. 

When the second period ran out, both women broke down in tears, for very different reasons. 

Yoshida is perhaps the greatest female wrestler in history. She won Olympic gold in the discontinued under 55kg weight class in Athens, Beijing and London and won every world championship at that weight between 2002 and 2013, her latest two coming in the under 53kg category.

The 33-year-old was Japan's opening ceremony flag bearer in London and is captain of the country's entire Olympic delegation for Rio.

Japanese women had won all three gold medals in women's wrestling in Rio before Yoshida's loss.

Maroulis is the world's top-ranked wrestler at under 55kg but had to fight an extra bout on Thursday just to make it into the main draw, where Yoshida was the top seed. The gold medal match was Maroulis' fifth of the day.