Wrestler Gray starts in the weight class up to 76 kilograms: She has established her sport in the USA
Sean M. Haffey / AFP
Had it gone according to her original plan, Adeline Gray would no longer be a wrestler, but a mother.
She wouldn't be in Tokyo now, but at home in Denver.
Ideally, she would even be an Olympic champion and mother.
“I wanted to have a baby after the 2020 Games.
But the pandemic has messed up my family planning, "said the American to the sports portal" The Athletic ".
Gray's ticket to Tokyo was out of reach before she could even reach for it.
At the beginning of March 2020, she broke her ribs in the Pan American title fights and could no longer compete in the final.
The US championships had been postponed to the beginning of April 2020 due to Corona.
But even that was too short to heal the injury.
And since the USA does not compose its Olympic team according to the merits and medals of the past, but strictly according to its performance in the national championships, it was clear that Gray would be absent from Tokyo.
But the games have been postponed for a year, and Gray now has the unexpected chance for gold.
At the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, the 30-year-old now wants to win the title she's still missing in Japan. She is a five-time world champion, the first woman wrestler with her own shoe. She established her sport in the USA. But Gray has never become an Olympic champion. The competitions begin on Sunday (from 4 a.m. CET). The final follows on Monday in their weight class up to 76 kilograms.
Gray stood on the mat for the first time at the age of six. Father George is her first trainer and is convinced that wrestling is the ideal sport for his agile daughter to let off steam. But back then it was also a sport that hardly existed for girls - neither in school nor in a club. This leaves Adeline Gray with only two options: change sport or wrestle with guys. The decision is easy for her - especially since the trainers support her. You don't see in her a girl who needs or wants to be treated separately, but a team member like any other.
Gray is technically better in many fights, but still loses because the boys are stronger.
But it is always evolving.
However, it remains unique in Colorado.
One that is not welcome everywhere.
Some high schools have parents who forbid their sons to fight a girl.
Such experiences motivate Gray even more.
Her performance continues to rise - and she eventually becomes team captain.
Women's wrestling has only been an Olympic event since 2004
Her idol is Iris Smith, the 2005 world champion. Like Smith, who won the title in the - at the time heaviest - weight class up to 72 kilograms, Gray is also strong.
“Iris had this tremendous, beautiful power.
She was someone Adeline could identify with, ”said Gray's younger sister Geneva, also a wrestler.
When Gray first fought women herself, she was amazed.
She is used to often being physically inferior to men.
Now she almost exclusively faces physically weaker women.
"That feeling of just overpowering my opponent was completely new to me," she said.
Adeline Gray: "I've learned to accept my body as it is."
Photo: Sean M. Haffey / AFP
In 2012, the American is world number one in the weight class up to 67 kilograms - but only a spectator at the summer games in London. Although women's wrestling has been Olympic since 2004, there weren't seven freestyle weight classes as there were for men, but only four. Grays wasn't there. When the world championships were held in September - then in all seven weight classes - Gray won the title for the first time. In 2014 and 2015 - in the weight class up to 75 kg - two more World Cup gold medals were added.
Gray traveled to Rio as the top favorite in 2016.
She hadn't lost in two years.
And no one doubted that she would become the first US Olympic champion in wrestling history.
America actually won gold, but through Helen Maroulis (up to 53 kg).
Gray, however, surprisingly lost in the quarter-finals to Vasilisa Marzaliuk from Belarus.
Since that defeat, she has won two more world titles.
But much more important: it has "broken the stigma of women's wrestling," as Forbes magazine writes.
"I have a very strong, powerful body, weigh 76 kg, sometimes 81 - and I'm very happy with it," emphasizes Gray.
She trains five hours a day.
“Like everyone else, I have cellulite or clothes that make my shoulders look too big.
But I've learned to accept my body as it is. "
Gray wants to use her story to inspire other women and at the same time to criticize social grievances.
In American football, for example, players are literally "bred" for positions like linemen, she says.
But the daughters of these colossi, which sometimes weigh 150 kilograms, would look like linemen, but that is exactly why they are pilloried, she complains.
"I hope that women can accept it through me and others if they are obese."
And she hopes that there are other weight classes.
The men fight up to 125 kg, the women only up to 76 kg.
"I would like to see weight classes for 80 or 90 kg so that wrestling is not only reserved for thin women."