This Tuesday, American athlete and world champion wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock received a gold medal in the women’s 68kg freestyle category after her 4-1 victory over Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (OG).
After her incredible performance in the ring, which made her the first African-American woman to win an Olympic medal in her category, Mensah-Stock said she was “happy and proud” to represent the United States at the Olympics.
“It feels amazing,” she responded to a reporter who asked her about her flag. “I love representing the US, I freaking love living there, I love it and I’m so happy I get to represent the USA,” she continued with a huge smile on her face.
The 28-year-old athlete drew a heart with her fingers, amid tears of emotion, as she draped a U.S. flag over her shoulders.
In addition, the Olympic champion, whose father is originally from Ghana (in West Africa), shared her victory with her opponent and said she was proud because they both made history.
“It’s so freaking awesome,” she told the Associated Press in a message of patriotism and pride. And, she further stated, “You’re making history, I’m making history. We’re making history. So it meant a lot.”
Mensah-Stock also expressed her excitement to serve as an example for other young athletes. ““These young women are going to see themselves in a number of ways and they’re going to look up there and go, I can do that,'” she told reporters.
For her part, Oborududu became the first Nigerian athlete to win an Olympic medal in wrestling.
A victory dedicated to her family
Mensah-Stock’s passage through the 2020 Olympics was determined and formidable. She first defeated 2016 Olympic gold medalist Sara Dosho from Japan with an incredible 10-0 win in the first round.
Then Mensah-Stock beat China’s Feng Zhao 10-0 in the quarterfinals, and later beat Ukraine’s Alla Cherkasova, a former world champion, 10-4 in the semifinal.
Years ago, the champion nearly quit the sport after her father was killed in a traffic accident on the way home from one of her high school tournaments.
That’s why Tamyra knows very well what she will invest the $37,500 that the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee awards to athletes who win gold medals: she will fulfill her mother’s dream of owning a food truck.
“My mom’s getting her food truck! She’s going to have a little cooking business. She can cook really, really, really well – barbecue,” she said with great enthusiasm.
Mensah-Stock: an athlete proud to represent her country
In June, American athlete and Olympic thrower Gwen Berry caused a media scandal by turning her back on the U.S. flag during the singing of the national anthem. Berry then said she felt the rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner was “staged.”
At the 2019 Pan Am Games, Berry also protested against the anthem and turned her back to the flag.
Berry’s repeated offenses to his country’s symbols led some political figures to call for her disqualification and caused a barrage of comments from other American athletes and those who considered her to be disrespectful.
For example, world champion archery shooter Brady Ellison said the political activism of athletes like Berry has become a “theatrical spectacle” and disrespectful to people who have “fought and died for their flag.”
“There are ways to do things,” Ellison told Newsweek last month. “There has to be a way to get your message out there and not piss off the people who fought for the flag and died for that flag. Don’t disrespect the people who served in the military.”
Mensah-Stock did not come to the Olympics to practice activism or to carry a political message. She came to compete, to represent and to leave behind the name of her country with pride, discipline and joy.