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Maroulis to compete for Olympic bronze medal after close loss in battle of Olympic champions in semifinals

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

In a battle of Olympic champions, Helen Maroulis (USA) and Risako Kawai (Japan) square off in the semifinals. Photo by Larry Slater.


MAKUHARI, Chiba, Japan – In a battle of 2016 Olympic champions, Risako Kawai of Japan edged U.S. star Helen Maroulis (Rockville, Md./Sunkist Kids), 2-1 in the semifinals at 57 kg at the Olympic Games at the Makuhari Messe Hall A.


Maroulis will compete in a bronze medal on Thursday night, against the winner of the repechage match between Fatoumata Camara of Guinea and Khongorzul Boldsaikhan of Mongolia.


There were no technical points scored in the match between Maroulis and Kawai, just points from the shot clock. Kawai scored the first two points, with Maroulis getting her point late in the second period.


At the 2016 Olympics, neither Maroulis nor Kawai wrestled at 57 kg. Maroulis won her Olympic title at 53 kg, while Kawai was the champion at 62 kg. These two stars have won multiple World titles as well, with Kawai owning three World gold medals and Maroulis having two World gold medals of her own.


Maroulis opened her tournament on Wednesday morning with an impressive 8-4 over No. 4 seed Ningning Rong from China, a 2018 World champion. In the quarterfinals, Maroulis shut out 2015 World bronze medalist Tetyana Kit of Ukraine, 8-0.


Maroulis defeated three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida in the 2016 Olympic finals at 53 kg to become the first American woman to win an Olympic wrestling gold. If she wins her bronze medal match tomorrow, she will become the first U.S. woman wrestler to win two Olympic medals.


She also won World titles in 2015 and 2017. Since then, Maroulis has battled injuries and concussions, but was able to come back in 2020 and qualify the weight class for the USA at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier. Maroulis is a product of Rockville, Md.


The medal match finals on Thursday will begin at 7:30 p.m. local time, which is 6:30 a.m. ET in the USA. Fans can enjoy the action live on The Olympic Channel.

U.S. women’s freestyle results


57 kg – Helen Maroulis (Rockville, Md./Sunkist Kids)

WIN Ningning Rong (China), 8-4

WIN Tetyana Kit (Ukraine), 8-0

LOSS Risako Kawai (Japan), 2-1

Bronze Bout – vs. winner of Fatoumata Camara (Guinea) vs. Khongorzul Boldsaikhan (Mongolia)


Group 4 women’s freestyle finals pairings

57 kg - Risako Kawai (Japan) vs. Iryna Kurachkina (Belarus)

Group 4 women’s freestyle semifinal results

57 kg

Risako Kawai (Japan) dec. Helen Maroulis (USA), 2-1

Iryna Kurachkina (Belarus) tech. fall Evelina Nikolova (Bulgaria), 11-0