The Olympics is the mecca for most sports in the world. Basketball has the NBA championship. Hockey fights for the prestigious Stanley Cup. However, not all sports have that professional league to which they have something to strive for. Sports such as swimming, track and field, curling, and others rely on the Olympics to reach the top of the mountain in their respective sport. One sport presides over all of them in the Olympics, and that’s wrestling.
Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in history and is treated as such. There isn’t a league like the NHL or NBA for amateur wrestlers. That’s why the Summer Games provide a place for amateur wrestlers to compete and win the gold medal. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the United States were presented with a great opportunity to bring home a medal in men’s and women’s wrestling. Their best chance on the women’s side came from Adeline Gray, 25, from Denver, Colorado.
Gray is a three-time world champion who was on a mission to become the first American to win Olympic gold in women’s wrestling. Vice Sports had the opportunity to follow Adeline Gray around for a typical day of training as she prepared for the biggest match of her young career against Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus. Just like anyone would surmise, training is a full-time job.
At her camp, Gray trained alongside six different contenders from other countries, multiple hours a day. In the beginning of the video documentary, Gray commented that two-a-days are a common occurrence when training for the Olympics. It’s no easy task. Terry Steiner, Gray’s coach, further solidified that and talked about her role in the 2016 Olympic games.
“Right now we need a hero. She’s really taking on that role of not only winning but being a leader for the rest of the team. I really think she can transcend the sport.”
Vice Sports’ coverage of Gray’s training opened up aspects of Olympic training that can hardly be defined. The time put into training for her dream is nearly incomparable to other athletes in the world. “I don’t have a regular life,” she said. “I’m at your typical camp daily. That is my life.”
While her training and recent success made her the No. 1 ranked women’s wrestler in the United States, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to medal in the Olympics. She was upset by Marzaliuk in the Quarterfinals in the 75 kg weight class 3-1. Much like her male counterpart, Jordan Burroughs, her journey in Rio ended early.
Even though Adeline Gray wasn’t successful in achieving a gold medal in Rio, she still was able to do what Steiner believed she would. Gray is transcending the sport of women’s wrestling. The casual sports fan presumably isn’t aware what Gray has achieved and as a woman in a predominantly men’s sport, she is achieving an important agenda.
In an interview with NBC’s Olympics site, Gray has “tackled the stigmatization of female athletes” and is following a path similar to Ronda Rousey, former-UFC champion.
“Those boys made me better, and I want to thank all the boys out there who stepped on the mat, and had the courage to really wrestle me, because I wouldn’t be here without them.
Perhaps at the end of the day, Gray can be proud of what she has accomplished. As a three-time World champion, the Denver, Colorado-native is becoming a figurehead for women’s wrestling, and the Olympics in general. When the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo take place, Gray will be 29-years-old. If she doesn’t call it a career first, that could be her chance to take the gold back to America.
[Image via Vice Sports/Used With Permission]