Natalia Vorobieva relives her Freestyle Wrestling Gold – London 2012 | Olympic Rewind

Natalia Vorobieva relives her Freestyle Wrestling Gold – London 2012 | Olympic Rewind


When I was walking out, my coaches told me… ‘You’ve already got silver. You have nothing to lose, so go and fight!’. That was what I was going to do… I realised that my whole career was now at stake. So the fight was not only for every point but also for every hold. Stanka Zlateva, of course, came to win, but I also came not to lose. I knew that I must do everything possible to score, because I came to fight and not just stand there. Which is why I tried to make a more valuable technical move… that could bring me more points and extra security. Here I wanted to do a technical move and use my favourite technique “the windmill”. But I stepped off the mat and according to the old technical rules, I received a warning and a minus point. So here I was already losing by one point. Our team head coach, Yuri Ivanocih Shikhmuradov… always says ‘whether you lose or win by point does not change anything.’ In the first round Stanka was more defensive than offensive. When I approached the coaches, they were in a horrible panic… one was screaming something, arguing and the other was fanning me and wiping me with a towel. Well they were all in such a mood, they say that coaches always scream something out of despair. Then I turned to them and said ‘everything will be fine!’ and I left to return to the mat. Somehow I was sure that in the second round I could win, because I wasn’t feeling tired after the first round… and I had nothing to lose, I had a more offensive strategy. I thought somewhere deep inside I would find the moment for a successful attack. I have a fighting style that implies that I compete with clean finishes. That’s how I wanted to finish the final of the Olympic Games. I wanted to make a beautiful move. I wanted to win this Olympic Games in a beautiful way. Here is the action that gave me goosebumps, and even years after I still get goosebumps. I would probably have to give everything up to feel those emotions again. I was screaming and the entire world from london to Irkutsk heard me for sure. I couldn’t believe the moment when the referee first whistled. I started to release the move and laid my opponent down, but this time the referee knocked. At this moment my emotions burst out, I started to scream. Then I sat down, and my coaches were looking at me shouting… ‘Don’t just sit there! Come here quickly!’ It seems that I screamed for the next fifteen minutes. It was some kind of scream from deep down inside me, from my soul, because I had no more emotions left. I only wanted to shout. When I came out to take my place on the Olympic podium I didn’t realise what had happened. So I was like ‘What? Where? How?’ When I rose to the podium, I realised that here it is… the top of the Olympics, above my head is the Russian flag, the anthem of my country is playing, everyone is screaming and shrieking. I thought I can tick a box on my list, mission complete. I was standing there listening to the anthem, I was singing in my mind and it seemed that I could feel every single word. Now, each time I hear the national anthem… I get flashbacks of those moments on the podium. I always associate the anthem with that particular moment, the 9th of August 2012. I instantly associate the anthem with that day.

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