US wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock could barely contain her pride in country after her historic gold medal win in the women’s 68-kilogram freestyle division — winning a new legion of fans for her unabashed patriotism.
“I love representing the USA. I love living there. I love it, and I’m so happy I get to represent USA!” said the exuberant 28-year-old Texas raised grappler, who is the first black woman and the second woman ever to claim a wrestling gold for the US after her win Tuesday over Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu.
“It feels amazing,” Mensah-Stock, wearing an American flag draped around her shoulders, told reporters following the match, curling her hands into a heart shape.
Fans cheered Mensah-Stock’s win — and her joyous celebration of the Red, White and Blue — which came after US hammer thrower Gwen Berry turned her back on the National Anthem during Olympic trials and Raven Saunders made a symbol of protest after winning silver in the shot put.
“Wrestles like a badass, but has a heart as gold as that medal! Her enthusiasm & joy for life are infectious,” Amy Burchard wrote.
“Who is cutting onions around me,” added Eric Nhilnwe.
“Finally some authentic response from a real human being for once,” another tweeted.
Mensah-Stock has been wrestling since she was in the 10th grade and told reporters she always “knew” she “could do it.”
“When I first started wrestling I felt like I could be an olympic champ and I kept going,” the wrestler sobbed as she answered the question.
The athlete was asked about her father and how he died when she was in high school and she broke down a bit further, saying he “would’ve been the loudest one here.”
“He would be so happy,” Mensah-Stock said of her Ghana-born dad.
“He was like enemies with Nigeria so it’s kind of like poetic that I had to wrestle a Nigerian in the finals,” she joked.
“That was kind of cool.”
Women’s wrestling has only been an Olympic sport since 2004 and Mensah-Stock said her win is a symbol for young girls everywhere and all that they can achieve.
“It means that they see someone like themselves on that podium,” she said.
“Showing them just because you’re a female doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish the biggest of goals and being an Olympic champ is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life and I can say it’s well worth it.”