It’s been a long road for Helen Maroulis, who is set to compete in the 53kg Women’s freestyle event this Thursday.
There’s no denying the fact that you’ve got to be tough to make it in women’s wrestling. For years it has been considered a man’s sport, but thanks to standout athletes such as Helen Maroulis and Adeline Gray, that perception is beginning to change.
Maroulis knows all too well how women’s wrestling was once, and in many cases still is, viewed. The 24 year old Maryland native grew up competing against boys while pursuing her dream of becoming the best in the world. She recalls hearing the crowd muttering disparaging comments about her during meets. That was something she could handle, but for her parents, it was difficult. At one point they even encouraged Maroulis to quit.
It wasn’t until 2004 when Women’s Olympic Wrestling was created that her parents could see what she was working towards. Helen Maroulis eventually found her way to an Olympic training institute in Michigan where she continued to work on her craft in hope of becoming a champion. Then, in 2012, her dreams were shattered.
The Road to Rio
Maroulis had recently won gold in the 2011 Pan American Games and was riding high on confidence heading into the London Olympic Trials. She would eventually face another top wrestler in Kelsey Campbell. The two went back and forth for the majority of the match before a takedown by Campbell in the waning seconds of the match set her ahead. Just like that, Maroulis’ Olympic Aspirations were crushed.
What could be worse than losing out on something you’ve been working most of your life for? Having to help the person that took those dreams. USA’s Olympic Wrestling coaches knew what an asset Maroulis was for their team, and asked her to join them in London to act as a training partner.
“Being that No. 2 person, you’re totally crushed,” U.S. women’s wrestling Coach Terry Steiner said. “Your dreams are crushed. Then you’re being asked to go help someone who just beat you. You really have to swallow your pride.”
It wasn’t easy, but Maroulis is proud of her contribution to the USA’s Olympic team. She sees it as a form of good karma, and can relax knowing she did what she could with what was given to her. “It would be really hard to enjoy this position that I’m in if I knew that as a training partner, I wasn’t a good partner, I wasn’t a good friend, I wasn’t good teammate,” Maroulis said. “It wouldn’t sit well with me right now. At the time, I wanted to fight against it, just being honest. But it really taught me I’ll be proud of myself, no matter what, based on the way I carry myself.”
Maroulis is a betting favorite to bring gold back to Maryland
USA’s Women’s Wrestling has never been stronger, and Helen Maroulis recently made US gambling news by becoming one of the betting favorites to take home gold at 53kg according to Realbet Sportsbook. The American’s odds currently sit at +300, with only Japanese wrestler Saori Yoshida ahead at -300.
The 53kg bracket is full of tremendous athletes, and Maroulis will need to perform at her best in order to take gold. Sweden’s Sofia Magdalena Mattsson odds sit at +600, and Nigerian standout Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye stands at +700.
Terry Steiner, the USA’s Women’s wrestling coach feels confident that the 24 year old Maroulis will get the job done in Brazil. “Now, I think she’s really ready to go do it.”
Anticipation is high for the women’s wresting event to begin. Adeline Gray will also be gunning for her chance to bring home the gold medal in the 75kg weight class on Thursday. Gray is considered one of the top female wrestlers on the planet, and will be a tremendous training partner for Maroulis in the lead up to their events.
What do you think? Will Helen Maroulis bring gold back to the USA? How will training with Adeline Gray impact her results? Leave your comments below, and make sure to check out GamingZion’s list of online sportsbooks in the US for a full list of the best websites for betting on the Olympics!