The first Black American female wrestler to win Olympic Gold gushed about her love of her country in an emotional and patriotic salute during her news conference before taking the podium.
"It feels amazing; I love representing the U.S.; I freaking love living there, and I love it," Tamyra Mensah-Stock said Tuesday after winning women's freestyle light heavyweight gold in Toyko, holding up her hands in the shape of a heart and shouting loudly. "I am so happy I get to represent U.S.A.!
"I love it!"
Her glowing expression of American patriotism comes amid myriad protests against social injustice at the 2020 Olympic Games and before. Video of her patriotism was shared millions of times by multiple posters on Twitter.
The Black woman from Katy, Texas, is just the second U.S. women's wrestling Olympic champion, capturing gold in her Olympic debut.
Mensah-Stock, 28, completed a stunning run in Tokyo by beating Nigerian veteran Blessing Oborududu 4-1 in the final. She overpowered Rio 2016 champion Sara Dosho of Japan and Ukraine's 2018 world champion Alla Cherkasova en route to the final, before coming through her toughest test against 10-times African champion Oborududu.
"It feels amazing, I'm trying not to cry," Mensah-Stock told reporters. "I want to go hide in a room but people keep pushing me to places.
"It's a dream come true. I knew from the beginning that I could be an Olympic champion. It was a scary though, but I knew it was achievable."
Mensah-Stock got on the scoreboard first with a takedown when she spun behind the 32-year-old Oborududu, who reversed immediately to make it 2-1.
The American made another takedown with a leg attack to go 4-1 up into the break, before holding off the Nigerian in the second period, bursting into tears when the buzzer sounded.
Rio 2016 freestyle bantamweight champion Helen Maroulis is the only other American woman to win an Olympic gold in wrestling.
Information from Reuters was used to compile this report.
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