Helen Maroulis, the first U.S. female wrestler to take home an Olympic gold medal, won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Games on Thursday after defeating Mongolia's Khongorzul Boldsaikhan 11-0.
During the 2016 Rio Olympics, Maroulis won the 53-kilogram division, becoming the first woman to win a gold medal for the USA's women's wrestling team. She is also a devout Christian who attributes her success to God.
Following Thursday's victory, Maroulis, 29, posted a picture of herself on Instagram with the bronze medal as she quoted scripture and thanked her supporters.
"And Jesus said to him "anything is possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:23)", she wrote in the caption. "Never lose faith, never give up."
Despite not winning the gold this time around, the bronze medal bears special significance to what Maroulis had been through personally. According to Sports Spectrum, Maroulis had two serious concussions, which led to a diagnosis of PTSD. She briefly retired in 2019 but would soon return to the mat.
Maroulis explained that while she was perfectly content with retiring from wrestling, it was God who brought her back.
"I just kind of felt like He revealed to me that if wrestling is where your pain and trauma happened and you run away from it for the rest of your life, you're not ever going to heal from it," she noted.
Earning her spot on the Olympic team, however, wasn't easy. Maroulis faced several challenges, including competing on a torn MCL that was not fully healed. Nevertheless, the wrestler would overcome adversity and make the 2020 Olympic team, a feat she attributes to God.
"I like sharing what God's done in my life, and I'll share about the good or the bad because at the end of the day, He's with you through all of it, and it's not about winning or losing," Maroulis said. "It's about knowing that no matter what, He's there, and He's good."
Maroulis, a native of Rockville, Maryland, was raised in Marquette, Michigan. She first started walking with God in 2010, after one of her coaches invited her to church. Initially, Maroulis said she planned on sleeping through the service, but she decided to go and ended up hearing a sermon on love "that totally rocked [her] world."
Since that day, Maroulis continues to deepen her relationship with God. She is currently an active member at her church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Maroulis told Sports Spectrum that the Holy Spirit guides her every step.
"It's about praying and journeying with Him," she explained. "And also having that community that helps keep you accountable and helps you see the ways He's moving in and through you," she said.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Maddie Meyer/Staff
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.