Who is... Adeline Gray
Name: Adeline Gray
Country: United States
Weight class: Women's freestyle, 75kg (165 lbs)
- Three-time World Championships gold medalist (2012, 2014, 2015)
- Two-time World Championships bronze medalist (2011, 2013)
- 2015 Pan American Games champion
- Two-time U.S. Open champion (2011, 2015)
- 2014 USA Wrestling Women's Wrestler of the Year
- 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials runner-up (63kg/139 lbs)
Olympic history: Gray was an alternate at the 2012 London Games. Her weight class at the time (67kg/148 lbs) was not an Olympic weight class that year, so Gray had to drop down to the closest division (63kg/139 lbs) when she competed at U.S. Olympic Trials. In order to make weight, Gray needed to shed about 30 pounds from her natural weight, and as a result, she was defeated by Elena Pirozhkova in the final round at Trials.
Olympic outlook: For this year's Games, women's wrestling expanded from four Olympic weight classes to six. Included among them is Gray's current 75kg weight class. As the defending world champion and the number #1 ranked wrestler in the world at that weight, Gray is considered the gold medal favorite in 2016.
How she got started in wrestling: Gray was a hyper kid growing up, so her mother tried putting her into a variety of sports as a way to get her to burn off her energy. By the time she was six, Gray was doing soccer, running and wrestling. Her father, a former wrestler in high school, became Gray's wrestling coach and taught her everything he knew about the sport he loved.
When she started wrestling at age six, Gray was matched up against boys. She continued wrestling against boys - and winning against boys - all the way through high school. Gray was even named captain of her high school's varsity wrestling team as a junior.
Says Gray: "I don't remember a lot of discrimination or bigotry towards me [as a girl] being on the mat. I know that people had issues with it, and I think that they were just missing the bigger picture. I had an opportunity to train in a sport that I could be an Olympic champion in, and a world champion in, and dream really big for being a female. And I'm now a professional athlete that is getting to live an amazing life, and I would have never had that opportunity without those boys stepping on the mat with me every single day and making me better."
Why she stuck with wrestling: "[For] the joy of it. You get to go out there and impose legal will on someone else. It's a combat sport, but at the same time, it's controlled in a manner that allows you to really just dedicate your athletic abilities and your skill and your hard work into one moment and one match."
On her Olympic debut: "The opportunity to go in and become the first gold medalist will just be icing on the cake for wrestling in the United States for women. It is really groundbreaking what we are able to do, and opportunities are really budding and opening up for college scholarships, for women getting to travel and make national teams. We are really ready for that Olympic gold medalist, and I would love to fill those shoes."
Terry Steiner (Gray's wrestling coach): "He has taught us as women that we deserve to be on the mat. It is not easy to step out of the men's wrestling world and coach women; it is still taboo. He was a respected and successful athlete, and for him to step out and say women deserve the same opportunities as the men in this sport is something that has not only changed me as an athlete, but as a person."
Iris Smith (wrestler): "She was an example that I could be beautiful and a world champion. She showed me I didn't have to be one of the boys to win or fit in, and I could be respected as a professional athlete and as a female in this world."
Personal motto: "Refocus with a new attitude, and a new truth may appear."