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07 Mar 2015
IOC News

Helen Maroulis talks women’s wrestling

Rising US freestyle wrestling star Helen Maroulis talks about her love for her sport and the technical skills it requires.

Born on 19 September 1991 in Rockville, Maryland, Helen Maroulis is a young American wrestler with a very bright future. She proved as much in winning 55kg silver at the 2012 World Championships, where she took on Japan’s three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida in the final; and she backed it up with a bronze on the same stage two years later.

After a much deserved victory at the 2011 Pan American Games, she is now eagerly awaiting her Olympic debut at Rio 2016, where, for the first time since its introduction to the Olympic programme in 2004, women’s freestyle wrestling will have the same number of weight categories as the men’s competition - six instead of four.

Highly committed to the task of promoting her sport, Maroulis is an ambassador for the Super 8 campaign, which was launched by United World Wrestling (UWW), the sport’s global governing body, with the aim of nurturing the development of women’s wrestling around the world.

“It’s an incredible sport. It’s always been offered to men. It’s one of the first sports ever. For women to have that opportunity now to wrestle is pretty incredible,” she says, explaining the global appeal of her sport. “To be at the top level for a wrestler, they have to work on everything. It’s a sport that requires your whole body. It takes coordination, balance and you have to have strength and flexibility because you have limbs being pulled one way and another, so your body has to be able to adapt. You really have to train everything and be prepared for that.”

Describing the dynamic nature of the sport, she says: “The action takes place all over on the wrestling mat, so that’s always exciting. I think referees always want us to keep it in the centre, so that’s what we strive for… but there are times when you’ll have someone on the edge, and then that’s a strategic area as well.”

As the American explains, wrestling involves a wide range of defensive and attacking tactics, all which makes for a thrilling spectacle on the mat: “It’s pretty exciting because both athletes are trying to get the lead with points and scoring.”

“The beauty of wrestling is that everyone can have their own style,” she adds. “No match is ever going to look the same. I think with women, we bring something different to the sport… Men might have certain ways of doing technique, but we can take that and we might do it a bit differently. So I think women’s wrestling really complements wrestling as a whole.”

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