Helen Maroulis is set to make history this summer as the first U.S. woman to wrestle at three Olympic Games.

After topping three-time Olympic gold medalist Saori Yoshida of Japan at her first competition in Rio — becoming the first U.S. female wrestler to win gold at the Olympics — Maroulis suffered a series of concussions, received a diagnosis of PTSD and underwent shoulder surgery, which she initially thought to be career-ending.

Following a brief stint in retirement, Maroulis slowly began to train again and eventually qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, where she earned a bronze medal in a triumphant return performance. Now, the three-time world champion will take the mat for a third time in Paris.

Here are some things to know ahead of Maroulis’ upcoming Olympic matches.

Athlete bio

How old is Helen Maroulis?

Helen Maroulis is 32 years old. She was born Sept. 19, 1991.

Where is Helen Maroulis from?

Helen Maroulis was born in Rockville, Maryland, to parents Paula and Yiannis Maroulis.

Does Helen Maroulis have siblings?

Helen Maroulis has two brothers, Michael and Tony.

How tall is Helen Maroulis? 

Helen Maroulis is 5-foot-3.

When did Helen Maroulis start wrestling?

Helen Maroulis was 7 years old when she started wrestling. After being asked to stand in as her younger brother’s drilling partner, Maroulis asked her parents if she could compete. Her father made a bet with her that if she won her first match, she could continue in the sport. Though she won that bet, she went on to lose all of her subsequent matches that season, finishing with a record of 1-30.

Maroulis continued with the sport, competing against boys through high school and becoming the first girl to ever place in the Maryland Boys’ State Championship in her freshman year, finishing sixth. 

In which weight class will Helen Maroulis compete?

Helen Maroulis will compete in the women’s freestyle 57kg weight class in Paris.

What are some fun facts about Helen Maroulis?

  • In her free time, Helen Maroulis likes to salsa dance and play the harp
  • At 32 years old, Helen Maroulis will become the oldest woman from the United States to compete as an Olympic wrestler
  • Her two medals make Helen Maroulis the most decorated female Olympic wrestler from the United States
  • Helen Maroulis made a movie called "Helen: Believe" about her experience with concussions and returning to the sport, which was produced by actor Chris Pratt. The movie premiered in spring 2023.

The road to Paris

When did Helen Maroulis qualify for the Paris Olympics?

Helen Maroulis qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics at the U.S. Olympic Trials on April 20, where she swept fellow Tokyo Olympian Jacarra Winchester in a best-of-three series. Maroulis pinned Winchester for the win in their first match, then took the second match 6-0.

Where does Helen Maroulis train?

Helen Maroulis trains at the powerhouse Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club in Arizona.

In her own words

Helen Maroulis on what people should know about women’s wrestling:

“I want people to love women's wrestling as much as I do … It's such a beautiful sport. I think it does combine grace and strength and resiliency and power also through an artistic expression.”

Helen Maroulis on being able to compete in Tokyo following her injuries:

“I would say it was even more special [than Rio] because I knew I was enough regardless of whether I had a medal or not. I was plagued with injuries and potential career-ending injuries the entire four years leading up to Tokyo. And so my perspective really changed where the thought was just, it's a gift to be here, and I'm thankful I get to do this one more time.

Helen Maroulis on qualifying for Paris:

“I was giving my dad a hard time because two years ago he said, 'Hey, no more medals, just retire, get married, have kids.' And I was like, 'let me go one more, dad.'”

Helen Maroulis on playing the harp:

“The harp is extremely meditative. I like activities that require you to be completely present and they really allow you to drop in. So, I find it very healing for my brain and just my psyche and my soul."