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.
“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.
“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 Honest Herald that she plans to give most of her award money to her mother, so she can start a food truck.