Golden Girl: Simon Fraser Alum Makes History In Rio
To earn her gold medal, Helen Margolis (second from left) beat 16-time world champion and three-time Olympic champ Saori Yoshida of Japan (left). Courtesy of IOC.
To earn her gold medal, Helen Margolis (second from left) beat 16-time world champion and three-time Olympic champ Saori Yoshida of Japan (left). Courtesy of IOC.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO – Helen Maroulis not only won the United States’ first ever Olympic gold medal in women’s wrestling, but made history for the sport in the process.

The graduate of GNAC member Simon Fraser University won the 53-kilogram freestyle weight class on Thursday at the Olympic Games in Rio, beating 16-time world champion Saori Yoshida of Japan, 3-1, to send a shockwave through the wrestling world.

Maroulis, a native of Marquette, Mich., never lost as a collegiate athlete at Simon Fraser and won four Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) national championships. To win gold, however, required beating the most decorated women’s wrestler in history. Yoshida, the three-time Olympic champion, had lost just two other times in her senior career.

Maroulis won her qualification round match over Ukraine’s Yuliya Khalvadzhy, 4-1, and then blanked China’s Zhong Xuechun, 4-0, in the round of 16. In the quarterfinals, Maroulis was a 3-1 winner over North Korea’s Jong Myong-suk and advanced to the final with a 5-0 shutout of Sweden’s Sofia Mattsson in the semis.

Prior to her golden run in Rio, Maroulis was the 2015 world champion at the 53-kilogram class, won the world silver medal in 2012 and the bronze medal in 2013. This was her first Olympic games.

Maroulis was one of two former Simon Fraser wrestlers at the Olympic games. Danielle Lappage competed for Canada in the 63-kilogram weight class, losing 5-0 to Ukraine’s Tkach Ostapchuk in the qualification round.

The 2013 GNAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year hoped to have a chance for playing team for Canada at the Olympics. She ended up being a major factor.

Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe started four of Canada’s six games in the Olympic tournament as it made a run into the quarterfinals, averaging 7.7 points and six rebounds per game. She scored her tournament high of 10 points on 2 of 3 from the field and 6 of 8 from the free throw line in Canada’s 68-63 quarterfinals loss to France on Aug. 16.

Her biggest contribution, however, came in Canada’s second group game against Serbia. Raincock-Ekunwe scored a three-point play with 48 seconds to give her team the 71-67 win on Aug. 8. Canada went 3-2 in the group phase and also scored wins over China (90-68) and Senegal (68-58). Raincock-Ekune scored six points and had eight rebounds in Canada’s 81-51 loss to the United States.

EMMONS’ MEDAL RUN COMES TO AN END: Matt Emmons, a 2003 graduate of Alaska, had medaled in each of his first three Olympic games. Unfortunately, there would not be a fourth in Rio.

The 2004 gold medalist and 2008 silver medalist in the 50-meter rifle prone and the 2012 bronze medalist in the 50-meter rifle three positions, Emmons failed to advance out of the qualification rounds on Aug. 14 in the Rio 50-meter rifle three positions. He finished with a score of 1169-59x, which placed 19th.

On his Facebook page, Emmons simply acknowledged that it wasn’t his day. “I felt great coming into Rio and felt great competing today. At the same time, I’m sad the score didn’t show what I thought I did,” Emmons said. “I didn’t have very many bad shots, just a lot of very close 9’s.

“Now I will look forward to some much needed time with my family and look forward to the World Cup Final in October.”