Global Ambassador for Redefine Feminine, Adeline Gray, has booked her place on the US Olympic Team for RIO 2016 after qualifying trials in Iowa overnight.
Gray (New York AC) dominated her two matches with Victoria Francis (Titan Mercury WC), picking up back-to-back technical falls – the second one coming in just 1:06.
The victory is significant, as it is the first time Gray has qualified for an Olympic Games team. No female has ever won Olympic Gold for the USA in wrestling. With three World Championships now under her belt, Gray is hoping to become the first.
Gray joins Elena Pirozhkova (Titan Mercury WC) on the plane for Rio, with Pirozhkova qualifying in the 63kg division. Helen Maroulis (Sunkist Kids) in the 53 kgs class and Haley Augello (New York AC) in the 48kg class were also successful in their trials and now head to Mongolia in search of their Olympic spots.
Gray was understandably excited with her qualification.
“I am just so excited, it is really surreal. I can’t even believe that it is here. I have been holding back a lot of emotions leading up to this moment. I qualified for the weight, and I knew I was number one in the world and that I could do this. But to still actually have to get it done is something that is another story and to come here and actually get it done is another thing. I am so proud of myself and excited that my support system is so great. I felt like this weekend was really easy and it was because of those great people that have been allowing me to be Princess Adeline this entire week. It was fantastic, I owe so much to my coaches, my family, my boyfriend and everybody who stepped up this weekend and allowed me to get my job done.
“In the Olympics there is so much more pressure and so much more media. So much more of everything. I think it is just the magnitude of people that are really going to be watching and knowing that it is special knowing what we are going to be accomplishing in Rio pretty soon,” Gray said.
Gray is not only the headline act in the Women’s Olympic Wrestling Team, she is also helping change societal perceptions of women’s sport through her role as the Global Ambassador for Redefine Feminine.
“What we as athletes are trying to do when we step on the mat is be treated as athletes. I’ve put in the time, I’ve put in the work as an athlete to step on the mat and have the right to compete,” Gray said.
“I don’t think tough should be a non-feminine word. I am strong and confident and beautiful when I step on the mat. You can be a world champion and an elite athlete and still be a female. Girls should be able to work hard and have a passion for something and be beautiful and successful.
“I will be an Olympic champion next year. Young girls can have that dream. A lot of times we just need to be told that it’s OK to be a girl and be really good at something.
“Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States today. We are part of Team USA and we go out there and we compete. We’re trying to represent our country and commit our lives to being the best in the world. And that’s something that’s very special, and not easy to do.
“Wrestling teaches you so much about yourself and it teaches you strength and character, and just determination to really get through whatever life throws at you. As a female, it can give me power,” said Gray.
The public has the chance to join the conversation and help change the lives of these Olympic athletes by visiting www.redefinefeminine.com and linking through to the campaign’s various social media channels. In addition to showcasing the US women’s wrestlers, the website also serves to inspire women and girls of all ages to be their best and follow their dreams without the pressure of societal stereotypes and pressures. All proceeds from Redefine Feminine go towards the women’s Olympic wrestlers’ quest for Rio 2016.
Adeline pictured after being named Athlete of the Year at the Iowa Olympic Trials.