Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis produced one of the all-time great performances as she stormed to the women’s 58kg title without conceding a point on a dominant day for the American at the United World Wrestling (UWW) World Championships.
Maroulis, who has stepped up two weights since claiming the first women’s 53kg Olympic crown at last year’s Games in Rio de Janeiro, won all of her matches by technical fall on her way to the top of the podium.
The 25-year-old, the 55kg champion at the 2015 World Championships on home soil in Las Vegas, comfortably overcame Marwa Amri of Tunisia in the final to reassert her status as the best women’s wrestler on the planet.
Amri had herself made history as she became the first African woman to reach a World Championships final.
But she was outfought, outclassed and outworked by Maroulis in a one-sided gold medal contest, although she will no doubt depart Paris delighted with her silver.
Turkey’s Yasemin Adar won the country’s third gold of the event so far with a hard-fought 5-4 triumph over Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus in the 75kg final.
The best was yet to come for the double European champion, however, as her coach and partner came onto the mat, got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.
The other two titles up for grabs went to top 55kg seed Haruna Okuno of Japan and Mongolian Orkhon Purevdorj, who clinched the 63kg honors.
Maroulis was the star attraction on the opening day of women’s competition and shone brightest once again with a series of commanding displays on the mat.
None of her opponents even got close as she skilfully and masterfully picked them off one by one.
She was not scored upon during any of her five bouts and finished with a 53-0 record, marking a performance which will live long in the memory.
Michelle Fazzari of Canada beat junior world champion Erin Nilsson of Sweden to secure the first bronze medal in the category.
Aisuluu Tynybekova, the second seed, also sealed a place on the podium with a narrow success over China’s Ningning Rong.
Adar justified her billing as the top seed in the 75kg category as she took gold by beating Marzaliuk, although she did not have it all her own way in a fascinating encounter, which brought day three to a thrilling close.
The Turkish athlete struggled to deal with the power of the Belarusian early on but gradually found her feet and scored at crucial moments to ensure she added world gold to the European titles she claimed in 2016 and 2017.
Justina Di Stasio earned another medal for Canada as she beat China’s Paliha Paliha by fall, while Hiroe Suzuki joined her on the podium with a comprehensive 6-0 thrashing of Estonia’s Epp Mae.
Elsewhere, Okuno converted her 2016 cadet title into World Championships glory in the 55kg category with a dramatic 5-4 victory against Nigerian Odunayo Adekuoroye.
Maroulis’ team-mate Becka Leathers had earlier sealed the United States’ first medal of the Championships with bronze as she proved too strong for Bilyana Dudova.
Iryna Kurachkina of Belarus denied France their first podium finish in the other bronze bout, beating Mathilde Riviere 9-1 – a result which was far from popular among the partisan crowd.
Purevdorj is already a star in her native Mongolia and she made sure she returned home an even bigger hero with her success in the 63kg category.
The 23-year-old, a Rio 2016 Olympian, battled past Ukrainian Yuliia Ostapchuk 6-3 in a fiercely-contested final.
Valeriia Lazinskaia of Russia – who are still awaiting their first gold of the event here – won bronze by default after Turkey’s Hafize Sahin suffered a nasty-looking injury during their encounter.
Sahin screamed in pain as she lay on the mat, while the crowd collectively gasped when the incident was shown on the giant screens.
Jackeline Castillo of Colombia, a double Olympic medalist, took the other bronze with victory over Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu.
Turkey remain at the top of the medal table with three gold and a bronze.
Armenia are second with on two golds and Germany still occupy third place with a medal of each color.
By Liam Morgan
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.