Wang Xu, a teenaged high school student from China, completed amission-impossible when she defeated five-time world champion Kyoko Hamaguchi of Japan en route to winning a women's freestyle wrestling gold medal at the Olympic Games on Monday.
The mighty Hamaguchi, daughter of former Japanese pro wrestling star Heigo "Animal" Hamaguchi, was unbeaten over the past two years and thought to be all but untouchable.
But the 19-year-old Wang achieved the unthinkable by beating Hamaguchi 6-4 in the semifinal of the women's 72kg category freestyle wrestling.
During the match, the referee awarded Wang two points in a move Hamaguchi initiated. Hamaguchi's father was infuriated at the decision and stood up shouting from the stands.
"I think the score was correct. When you lose, you lose," said Hamaguchi, who carried Japan's flag at the opening ceremony of the Games, after taking the bronze in the evening.
"I was able to learn about life. That's more valuable than the gold medal," she said philosophically.
Inspired by the historic victory, Wang outpointed Russian Gouzei Maniourova 7-2 in the final, bagging her first major international title.
"I'm so excited about winning the gold medal," Wang said afterwards. "I never thought the way to triumph was so smooth."
Wang, a native of Beijing, took up the sport of judo in 1998 and switched to wrestling one year later.
When asked about her comments on the opinion that wrestling is a sport only for men, Wang said, "Men and women are equal. Since men can wrestle against each other, why can't we women?"
Women's wrestling is for the first time included in the Olympic Games as a medal event.
Wang, a high-school student, has already put her eye on the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
"I hope to win another gold at home in 2008," she said.
(Xinhua News Agency August 24, 2004)