Mossely wins 1st French women's boxing gold on birthday
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 20, 2016 09:52 AM
France's Estelle Mossely kisses her gold medal for the women's lightweight 60-kg boxing atthe 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Estelle Mossely skipped the birthday bash for a gold medal celebration.
On her 24th birthday, Mossely gave herself the gift of gold, defeating China's Junhua Lin by split decision to win the lightweight final.
"What a very beautiful present," she said.
Tony Yoka could barely stand to wait for the decision.
Yoka, Mossely's fiancee and fellow French Olympic boxer, won his super heavyweight bout earlier Friday and grabbed a seat in the stands to watch her fight. He buried his head in a towel until the decision was announced. Once Mossely was declared the winner, Yoka jumped and covered his face with the towel. He rushed toward the ring — ignoring a fleeting attempt by security to steer him elsewhere — where Mossely met him with a huge leap into his massive arms. Yoka dropped her off for a victory lap around the ring, the French flag fluttering behind her like a cape.
"It's a bonus," she said. "We have the same passion, we live the same daily life. We train together . We support each other together."
Each fighter won a scorecard 39-37 and one judge scored the fight 38-38. The Puerto Rican judge, who scored it a tie, got to choose the winner and with the push of a blue button, picked Mossely.
"I really felt I had the upper hand in the third and fourth round," she said.
Mossely, her hair braided in red, white and blue in honor of the French flag, became the first French woman to medal in Olympic boxing. She had failed in her attempt to qualify for the 2012 London Games. Brahim Asloum was the last French fighter to win gold, in 2000.
"I'm honored to have won this gold medal," she said. "It's amazing to win the first gold medal for a female athlete."
Finnish fighter Mira Potkonen and Russian figher Anastasii Beliakova, her left arm in a sling because of an injury suffered in a semifinal bout against Mossely, won bronze.
The 24-year-old Yoka, who won the world title at the world championships in Doha in 2015, shouted encouragement throughout Mossely's bout. Yoka won on two of three scorecards against Croatia's Filipto Hgrovic to advance to the super heavyweight final on Sunday against Britain's Joe Joyce.
They could be the golden couple of the Rio Games.
Mossely and Yoka wanted Olympic gold around their necks before they thought about a date for putting rings on their fingers.
"After the games," she said, laughing.
In this ring, I thee wed?
OK, the punching pair will probably choose a more traditional venue for a wedding.
But they felt at home inside the ring. Yoka never changed from his boxing gear before he wished Mossely luck in the locker room, then headed back to the arena to watch her fight.
"I don't like the fights on the same day," Yoka said.
But they survived the day — and soon they'll head off training hand-in-training hand as husband and wife .
"I can't hope for more," Mossely said.